The Role of Lighthouses in the Construction of Coastal Identities

Elisa Magnani, Filippo Pistocchi


Mysterious and fascinating figures – a light that brightens the land where it meets the sea – lighthouses have always played a vital role not only in drawing the line of the coast, but also in creating the social and cultural identity of those people who live at the edge of the land, in the finis terrae. Lighthouses have known an architectonic and maritime history of their own, but most of them were abandoned after the decline of the maritime economy and the introduction of new technologies. Nowadays they are being rediscovered, both as part of a process of territorial re-appropriation enacted by the local communities, aiming at transforming them in modern houses or recovering their traditional use, and as part of tourist development policies, making of them new tourist accommodation for people wishing to live new types of cultural experiences or interested in re-discovering the history and memory of a territory. The article analyses the role of lighthouses in the creation of territorial identities and in the tourist exploitation of the European coastal landscapes in areas with a strong maritime identity, inexorably connected with these coastal “giants”, symbols of both defense and openness towards otherness.


Lighthouses; Territorial identity; Heritage; Heritage tourism; Territorial promotion

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2036-5195/6360


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