Þrídrangaviti Lighthouse – Iceland - Atlas Obscura

Þrídrangaviti Lighthouse

A lonely beacon, precariously perched atop a remote sliver of rock. 


A cluster of slender rock pillars jut out from the ocean’s surface like fingers stretching toward the sky, miles away from civilization. From a distance, it looks like a colorful speck has settled atop the largest one. Look closer, and you’ll see it’s a tiny red-roofed lighthouse, perhaps one of the loneliest in the world.

The whitewashed lighthouse is perched atop the tallest of the rocky cliffs, which stretches an impressive 120 feet upward. It’s off the coast of the Westman Islands, which themselves are about 4.5 miles from mainland Iceland. Because of its isolation, some on the internet have jokingly dubbed the beacon a haven for introverts.

The remote lighthouse was built right before the dawn of World War II. Constructing this lonely lighthouse was no easy task, as helicopters had yet to take to the skies when the work began in 1938. Builders scaled the cliffs to reach the pillar’s pinnacle, laying out the groundwork by hand. They faced slick rocks, rain, and fervent winds knowing that one slip could send them plunging into the frigid North Atlantic Ocean that thrashed and splashed below.

Now, thanks to advances in aviation, maintenance workers can take a helicopter to the far-flung beacon. Yet even still, visiting the Þrídrangaviti lighthouse is a daunting endeavor. One wrong step, and any unsuspecting explorers just may find themselves going for an unplanned swim with the killer whales that sometimes lurk within the waves.

Know Before You Go

The Þrídrangaviti lighthouse is also known by variations of this name, such as Thridrangaviti or Thridrangar.

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