The Lighthouse of Kitries

This lighthouse was constructed in 1892. The tower height is 11 meters and its focal height is 31 meters. It is located in the cape of Kitries in the Messinian Gulf. Access to the area is hard since in the beginning there was not even a path and in order to reach there you had to hike for at least an hour from the settlement of Kitries on rutty ground.  Later, a path was built but today it is once again closed due to dense shrubs.

Today access is easy because about a decade ago an agricultural road was constructed as a bypass road from the central road of Kitries- Kalianaika. The lighthouse is built at an altitude of 20m  from the sea, it is 7.00×11.5m with a total of 80 square meters. On top of the tower there is a metal container closure with in a focal height of 31m with a lightning rod. Its longitude is 36ο 55’ Ο’’ North and its latitude being 22ο 07’ 6’’ East with Greek Reference Number 2260-E4032.

It first operated on the 1st of June 1892 upon circular letter of the Ministry of Marine No 27/1-5-1892 as a supervised lighthouse with the revolving system Sautter Lemonnier, clockwork rotation mechanism with balance weights and with its source of energy being petroleum. It emitted stable light of a white flash every 30sec. and its range was 10 nautical mile.

During World War II operation of the lighthouse was discontinued. The German troops withdrew from Kalamata on 6-9-1944 and just a few days before they withdrew they shot the lighthouse with cannons from coastal blockhouses so that they could destroy it.

The shooting, though did not bring the expected results, except for a cannon ball which afflicted the northern part of the guards’ residence, luckily without going through the wall nor causing any serious damage other than in masonry. After the withdrawal of the military occupation troops and as part of reconstructing the lighthouse network, the lighthouse restarted its operation as controlled following the aforementioned system.

In 1950 Lighthouse Service replaced the petroleum machinery with an acetylene torch Chance 800m/m of English making. Since then, the lighthouse changed from supervised to an unsupervised one and operated with a characteristic of 2 white flashes per 12 sec. and its range was now 12 nautical miles.

In 1999 it changed into a solar lighthouse with a characteristic of 2 white flashes per 12 sec. but its range was now limited to 7 nautical miles. After the automatization of the lighthouse and the retirement of its last guard in 1953the lighthouse remained all alone and completely unprotected, left to molder away. With the only exception being the yearly periodical maintenance of the light mechanisms by the lighthouse ship it is possible that it has undergone no restoration or actual maintenance since the day it was built and today the building complex is in bad condition.

Hopefully, there will be some state care so that damages and wearings can be restored, which is a sign of fine Greek presence in the domain of Art and Culture in order for this exceptional monumental building that lies as a landmark in the entrance of the Messinian Gulf to be saved.

It would be an omission not to mention those who have some time served as lighthouse keepers who, isolated and under hard working conditions, stayed awake so that the lighthouse did not stop working. These people always had a huge sense of responsibility because it was them who had the lives of the sailors in their hands.