Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse – Løkken, Denmark - Atlas Obscura

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse

Løkken, Denmark

An abandoned lighthouse awaits its destiny: being buried under shifting sand. 


Desertification is not a problem that is usually associated with Denmark. Yet 60 meters above the sea, the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse is slowly being claimed by shifting sands that have caused the structure to be abandoned for over 10 years, and will eventually cause its complete destruction.

Wind from the North Sea blasts up the cliffs toward the lighthouse, and has steadily caused sands to move and bury the structure. Since its creation, the coast has eroded at a rate of five feet per year, rapidly changing the landscape around the lighthouse.

The lighthouse stopped functioning in 1968, and stayed alive for a few more decades as a museum and coffee shop. But slowly, the force of the sand overtook the lighthouse, causing its abandonment in 2002. Efforts in the 1990s were taken to plant grass and other foliage to stop the spread of the sand, yet anything that was done was overpowered with ease by the sweeping dunes and erosion.

When the lighthouse was first built in 1900, a few other small buildings were still nearby. The Mårup Church near the lighthouse, a residence built next to the structure and small gardens have all since been dismantled or destroyed by nature. The lighthouse is the last building to remain standing against the sand, but not for long, as it is expected to plummet into the sea by 2020.

Update as of October 2019: The 720-ton lighthouse was moved 70 m inland. This is expected to extend its life until about 2060.

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