The Thridrangar Lighthouse is considered one of the most dramatic and unique lighthouses in the world, and it’s also the most isolated, located 4.5 miles (7.2 kilometers) off the southern coast of Iceland in the Westman Islands.
Today the lighthouse is only accessible via helicopter. Although it’s not open for visits, plenty of other helicopter tours in Iceland are available to locations like active volcanoes, the craters of Reykjanes, and northern lights hotspots.
This lighthouse was built in 1938 and 1939. Although Iceland is home to many lighthouses, this one is highly unique. Initially, the only way to access it was by scaling the rock it sits atop. Later, a helipad was built beside it, and today it can be reached by helicopter.
Thridrangar, spelled Þrídrangaviti in Icelandic, means “three rock pillars” and refers to the three rocks in the same location. Klofadrangur, Thufudrangur, and Storidrangur are the rock names, with Storidrangur being the rock upon which the lighthouse is built.
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Building Thridrangar Lighthouse
Given this lighthouse’s unique location, its builders had to lay the foundation by hand and scale nearby cliffs to reach its pinnacle. The conditions weren’t favorable either, and they had to weather rain, strong winds, and slippery rocks, which could send them into the cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Arni Thorarinsson, an Icelandic author and journalist, directed its construction. Experienced mountaineers sailed to the rock and then scaled it to build the lighthouse.
The task was both challenging and dangerous. Climbing tools could not grip the rock, so they had to build a human pyramid (one person on his knees, another person on top of him, and a third on top of him).
The Lighthouse’s Characteristics
Described as “an introvert’s haven,” the lighthouse is six miles (9.7 kilometers) from shore and sits atop a basalt stack about 110 feet (36.5 meters) above the sea. You can see its light at nine nautical miles. The lighthouse consists of a single story with just a deck and a lamp on the roof, measuring 24 feet (7.4 meters) high.
The Area Around Thridrangar Lighthouse
Although this lighthouse is not open to the public and only accessible by helicopter, there is plenty to do in the Westman Islands. Heimaey is the largest island, home to 4300 people. The other 15 islands in the archipelago are uninhabited.
These islands are abundant in seabirds, especially seals, whales, and puffins, and are also home to two volcanoes. One last erupted 6,000 years ago, and the other in 1973, requiring evacuation from the islands.
One underground eruption between 1963 and 1967 gave rise to the island of Surtsey. It is extraordinary as it has been uninhabited and free from human intervention since its creation.
As a result, it offers unique information about plant and animal life and plays a vital role in studies about succession and colonization. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.