The lighthouses of Zeeland
It is impossible to imagine Zeeland without its lighthouses. They are essential beacons for ships at sea. Their lights warn seafarers they are close to land and so prevent them running aground. Zeeland’s lighthouses have been acting as a signal to shipping for centuries. Check out Zeeland’s lighthouses and find out what makes them so special.
How lighthouses work
The lighthouses in Zeeland each have their own unique set of lights. That way, for example, mariners will know whether they are sailing in the Oosterschelde or the Westerschelde estuary. The light signal emitted from each tower flashes at different intervals. By counting the number of flashes, you know exactly where you are. Through an ingenious interplay of lenses and mirrors, the light can be intensified. A signal from a lighthouse can be seen tens of miles from shore.
By far and away the most famous lighthouse in Zeeland is the Westerlicht at Burgh-Haamstede. Its red-and-white striped tower – the added pattern is to help aviation pilots – was the inspiration of the old 250 guilder banknote. Standing at 58 metres above sea level, the Westerlicht is one of the highest lighthouses in the Netherlands. It is not open to the public.
't Hoge Licht lighthouse
The Zuiderhoofd lighthouse is a prominent feature of Westkapelle on Walcheren. Also known as the Hoge Licht or Westkapelle Hoog, it was initially the spire of the Sint Willibrorduskerk. It survived the fire which engulfed the rest of the church, and was rebuilt as a lighthouse. It stands notably some distance inland from the sea, but being 53 metres high, it is head and shoulders above anything else in the village. Visitors are welcome, and free to climb its 207 steps up. The lighthouse gained worldwide fame when it featured in paintings made by Piet Mondriaan.
't Lage Licht lighthouse
There is an second lighthouse near Westkapelle: 't Lage Licht lighthouse, also known as Noorderhoofd or what the locals refer to as 't Iezerderen. The lighthouse is 16 metres in height, has four floors and has been standing on this sea dyke since 1874. Did you know that ‘t Lage Licht lighthouse was the first cast-iron lighthouse of its kind in the Netherlands? Along with the Zuiderhoofd lighthouse, these seamarks act as leading lights to help navigation: if a ship follows this line of these beacons it can enter the port of Breskens without difficulty. You can visit this lighthouse too.
Lighthouse Nieuwe Sluis
In Breskens, the eye-catching Nieuwe Sluis lighthouse rules the roost, with its distinctive black and white stripes. It towers above the sea dike at the entrance to the Westerschelde. It is part of a line of lights marking the mouth of the estuary. From the external bike path between Breskens and Nieuwesluis, you’ll see the black-and-white tower from far off. Go on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, it’s open to the public.
In Dishoek there are two characteristic lighthouses which - like those in Westkapelle - serve as leading lights. The beacons at Kaapduin Hoog and Kaapduin Laag help vessels navigate the channel safely. The tarmacked track through the wonderful dunescape here leads to the lighthouses.