Kõpu Lighthouse s one of the best known symbols and tourist sights on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, having been in continuous use since its completion in 1531.
The most important East–West shipping lane in the Baltic Sea passed the Hiiu sandbank. Already before the year 1490 the Hanseatic merchants were seeking permission to mark this peninsula with an outstanding landmark. On 20 April 1500 Bishop Johannes III Orgas (John Orgies) agreed to allow a massive stone pillar without any openings. To cover the building costs, Tallinn city council had to establish a special lighthouse tax until the sum was complete. After couple of interruptions and major costs a fire was first lit in the autumn of 1531; it was simply a bonfire on top of the tower.
In August 1649 a wooden staircase was built to the outside wall of the tower and an open iron fire grate affixed to the top. Originally it was planned to burn coal in the lighthouse, but due to high transport costs of coal, wood was used instead. Several reconstructions were made by Swedish and Russian Empires between 17th and 21th centuries. A new light system was bought at the 1900 Paris World Fair, for three million gold rubles. The new apparatus (including the light chamber) was made by Sautter, Marlé & Co. It used a kerosene lamp with a gas mantle.
Kõpu Lighthouse only lost its important role as a primary navigation aid in 1997, when a radar lighthouse took over its duties. Recreational craft and small fishing vessels continue to rely on Kõpu for navigating, as a backup to electronic navigation systems. The Estonian Maritime Administration still classifies it as an active aid to navigation. Its future is ensured by its status as a protected cultural memorial.
Due to its enduring popularity and memorable shape, it is often used as a symbol of Hiiumaa. A major tourist attraction, the tower has been open for tourists since 1999. Together with the nearby Ristna lighthouse, the Kõpu lighthouse was commemorated on a postage stamp in 2000.
The Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg is situated in a strategic area on a rocky spur overlooking the Upper Rhine Plain, it was used by successive powers from the Middle Ages until the Thirty Years' War when it was abandoned. From 1900 to 1908 it was rebuilt at the behest of the German kaiser Wilhelm II. Today it is a major tourist site, attracting more than 500,000 visitors a year.
The first records of a castle built by the Hohenstaufens date back to 1147. The fortress changed its name to Koenigsburg (royal castle) around 1157. The castle was handed over to the Tiersteins by the Habsburgs following its destruction in 1462. They rebuilt and enlarged it, installing a defensive system designed to withstand artillery fire.
The fortification work accomplished over the 15th century did not suffice to keep the Swedish artillery at bay during the Thirty Years War, and the defences were overrun.