Falsterbo Lighthouse lies on the place of the oldest known beacon in Scandinavia. The sea route past the Falsterbo Headland has always been dangerous, because of the moving sand banks hidden in the sea. The first beacon was lit by German monks already in the 13th century. By that time Falsterbo was an important trading centre in Denmark. The beacon was placed at the then outermost point. When the trading became less important (16th century) there were periods without any beacon at Falsterbo. This caused a great loss of ships of the coast of Falsterbo.
In the 1630s the open fires were replaced by a lever light. An iron basket full of burning coal was hoisted up and down by a balanced bar. Hence the light was moving and easier to detect. The coal fire was intensely red and could not be mistaken for a star or ship lantern. The rests of the beacon are still visible as a small hillock of ashes and coal, "Coal Hill" (Kolabacken). Towards the end of the 18th century the lever light was moved to the site of the present lighthouse, closer to the new shoreline.
The lighthouse was built in 1793-96 and the "light" was a coal fire at the top. In 1842-43 the uppermost crenellated parts were replaced with the present lantern. Coal was replaced with oil. The oil was very inflammable and the lighthouse keepers had to watch the lamp all night. To make a periodic light; a screen was moved around the lantern by heavy plummets. Around 1850 a house for the keeper was built next to the lighthouse. At the end of the 19th century another house was built for the assistants to the lighthouse keeper.
Also when the oil was replaced with parraffine and, later, gas, the screen still had to be moved around. When electric light was installed in 1935 the screen was removed and so was a major part of the staff. Only one lighthouse keeper remained. In 1972 the lighthouse was automatised and the last keeper retired.
The lighthouse is 25 metres high and 12 metres broad. Nowadays it has no importance as a navigation mark and therefore the light is not very strong. It was totally turned off 1990-93.
Even though the lighthouse is managing itself nowadays, there are still lots of activities around it. Falsterbo is one of twenty synoptic weather stations in Sweden still manned. The lighthouse garden is the ringing site of the Falsterbo Bird Observatory. Falsterbo is a premier site in Europe to watch autumn bird migration. Every year on last Sunday of August it is "Lighthouse Day". Then the lighthouse is open to the public. Visitors are shown not only the lighthouse itself but also bird ringing and the weather station.References:
The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.
The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.
After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.
In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.