License: Creative Commons - Attribution-Share Alike Author: Helgi Halldórsson
The History of Icelandic Lighthouses
In the year 1878 the first lighthouse was built on the South-West coast of Iceland, at a place called Valahnúkur, on the Reykjanes shore. The Reykjanes coastline was and still is a treacherous sea. The lighthouse offered a most welcome guiding light for seafarers.
Only five lighthouses had been built at the beginning of the 20th century, and it was not until 1954, that the circle of 104 lighthouses around Iceland was finally closed. The lighthouses were built and operated by the Icelandic state, where as harbour throughfares, marked by buoys or smaller lighthouses, were operated and paid for by the individual communes.
The only lighthouse built by a private entrepreneur is Dalatangaviti. It was financed and built by Otto Wahne in 1895. Otto Wahne was a well off businessman at Seyðisfjörður. This is the oldest preserved lighthouse, now maintained by the National Museum of Iceland.
On December 1st 2003 we celebrated the 125th anniversary of the first lighthouse ever operated in Iceland. The occasion was used to put the first seven lighthouses on a preservation list: Arnartangaviti in Skutulsfjörður, Bjargtangarviti (built 1913, re-built in 1923, again in 1948), Dyrhólaey (1927), the older Garðskagaviti (1897), Hríseyjarviti (1920), Malarrifsviti (1946), and Reykjanesviti (1907).