Cordouan, the king of lighthouses and the lighthouse of kings



Position 45°35′10.84″N  1°10′24.48″W
Built 1584-1611, although the original structure was built in 1360, and the conical tower wasn’t completed until 1788
Focal plane 60 m (197 ft); white, red, or green light, depending on direction, occulting three times every 12 s.
1st order Fresnel lens
With a 223 feet (68 m)  stone tower with lantern and three galleries, it is the tenth tallest “traditional lighthouse” in the world.

The oldest and perhaps greatest of French lighthouses and one of the most famous lighthouses in the world, in the west of France it is called le roi des phares, le phare des rois (the king of lighthouses and the lighthouse of kings). It marks the entrance to the Gironde, standing on a sandbar in the mouth of the estuary. According to legend, Charlemagne commanded that a light be shone here in the early ninth century. It’s more certain that the English Prince Edward (the Black Prince), ruling southwestern France as Duc d’Aquitaine, built a 16 m (52 ft) stone tower in 1360 and engaged monks to keep a fire burning.

The lower portion of the present lighthouse remains from the great work of Louis de Foix, who spent 27 years building the lighthouse from 1584 to 1611. The original lighthouse was an elaborate structure that included a chapel and a royal apartment (although no king ever visited).  In 1645 the wood-fired lantern was blown off by a storm and replaced by a new lantern designed to burn whale oil. This was replaced in 1727 by a third lantern designed for charcoal. Parabolic reflectors of the Argand design were installed in 1782, but shortly thereafter the original superstructure was entirely removed and replaced with the soaring conical tower that survives to the present. In 1823 Augustin-Jean Fresnel brought the first of his lenses to the tower, and here he perfected the lens designs that were soon in use around the world. The present lens was installed in 1854, during a thorough restoration of the tower ordered by Napoleon III. The lighthouse was not electrified until 1948. Instead of abandoning the lighthouse, steps were taken to restore it. In 1987, a modern halogen lamp was installed; since the lamp’s light could be flashed, the rotating mechanism was then retired. In 2005 a new restoration was completed.
For more information about Cordouan click HERE

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