Photo taken on Aug. 18, 2019 shows the lighthouse of Chalkida in Chalkida, Greece. Greek citizens and tourists were given a rare opportunity to visit 28 lighthouses across Greece on Sunday in the context of the annual International Lighthouse Day, according to Greek national news agency AMNA. (Photo by Nick Paleologos/Xinyhua)
ATHENS, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Greek citizens and tourists were given a rare opportunity to visit 28 lighthouses across Greece on Sunday in the context of the annual International Lighthouse Day, according to Greek national news agency AMNA.
Visitors were briefed on the lighthouses' network contribution in safe navigation by Greek Navy officers who also underlined the need to preserve these architectural monuments which are part of the country's rich cultural heritage.
The lighthouses across Greece are managed and restored by the Greek Navy's Lighthouses Service. There are 144 traditional stone lighthouses nationwide. Most of them were constructed in the 19th century and operated on oil until electricity supply reached the most remote parts of the country in the second half of the 20th century.
Not all of them are now in good condition. Most were damaged during WWII.
In 1940, there were 206 stone lighthouses in Greece, while till the end of the War only two dozen remained functional, according to the Lighthouses Service's webpage. Approximately 80 were rebuilt in the next two decades. The development of telecommunications dealt the final blow to traditional lighthouses and their keepers.
The lighthouses' role was eventually replaced by light beacons which are cheaper and easier to maintain. Currently, only 58 lighthouses across the country host keepers.
Over the past three decades, various conservation and restoration programs were implemented with funding from the state, European funds and private donors.
In recent years, the Lighthouses service also started opening some of the lighthouses to the public.
Last year, more than 20,000 people visited lighthouses on the International Lighthouse Day.