Feature: Greek lighthouses open to reveal their secrets

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-21 04:47:04|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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by Maria Spiliopoulou, Valentini Anagnostopoulou

LAVRIO, Greece, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- For over a century, Vrysaki lighthouse is standing tall at the edge of a cliff near Lavrio port, 60 kilometers northeast of Athens, guiding sailors.

Vrysaki was one of the 27 lighthouses across Greece which opened to the public on Sunday to reveal their secrets on the occasion of the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend.

During the third weekend of August, visitors to over 500 lighthouses in more than 40 countries, according to the event's website, were given information about the importance of lighthouses and the duties of lighthouse staff.

Senior Greek Navy officer Vasileios Fassoulis welcomed people at Vrysaki, one of the 144 traditional stone lighthouses nationwide, as he told Xinhua.

Vrysaki was built in 1892. Most traditional lighthouses in Greece were constructed in the 19th century. Initially they operated on oil until electricity supply reached the most remote parts of the country.

The development of telecommunications dealt the final blow to these traditional lighthouses and their keepers. Currently only a few dozen host keepers, Fassoulis explained.

The structures, monuments of cultural heritage, are managed and restored by the Greek Navy's Lighthouses Service. Each one is unique, Fassoulis explained.

"All lighthouses are architectural monuments with special features. Each region has its own architecture... On Santorini island, let's say, where I served a few years ago, they have used rocks from the volcano. Each lighthouse is built with local materials depending on the site," he told Xinhua.

The officer knows very well what it is like living at a lighthouse.

"I have served as a keeper at lighthouses for almost 16 years. I have served on islets... I have lived at a lighthouse with a baby. I have raised my daughter inside one," he said.

She was two years old when they moved to a house on Santorini. She had taken her first steps at the lighthouse, said the officer.

"Hoisting the flag with my daughter and handing her the binoculars to look around the ships sailing nearby, taking her with me upstairs at the mechanism and letting her switch it on... She loved it," he said.

Maria T. visited Vrysaki on Sunday with her children.

"I wanted so much to see this with my children. My daughter is nearly four and I wanted to take her here. It is a great experience for both her and me. I had never entered a lighthouse," she told Xinhua.

Irene B. has visited lighthouses again, but it was the first time she was allowed to climb the stairs up to the tower and enjoy the peace and quiet and harmony.

"If you take a close look all lighthouses are humble constructions standing in harmony with the environment," she said.