Abandoned Lighthouses 4. Mogadishu

Mike GristLighthouses, Somalia, World Ruins 4 Comments

The crumbling Italian lighthouse perched on the edge of Mogadishu’s Old Harbor was built over a century ago, and abandoned some 20 years ago as trade dried up and the failed state of Somalia descended into a home for extreme jihad and piracy.

Now it stands as a reminder of the spectacular city Mogadishu once was, a bullet-pocked shell left to rot as a haven for homeless fishermen and qat-junkies.

A view across Mogadishu’s Old Harbor to the Indian Ocean. Image from

“[The lighthouse’s] spiral staircase is in a state of mid-collapse. Its hollowed-out rooms smell of sea rot and urine. Young men sit cross-legged in the rubble, chewing qat, a plant whose leaves contain a stimulant; and playing a dice game called ladu for hours. Some huddle in a corner and smoke hashish. They seem like ghosts in a city left for dead. But the lighthouse is quiet and it is safe; if anyplace in Mogadishu can be considered safe.”

Robert Draper, National Geographic

From the reverse angle, where the fishermen enter. Image by Alex Strick.

Sitting at the dock of the bay- image by Frank Keillor

“Yet amid the exoskeletons of banks and cathedrals and luxury hotels overlooking a glimmering coastline that once buzzed with pleasure boats, an awful truth dawns. Mogadishu was never like other African cities. Mogadishu was a spectacular city. Even in its disfigurement, the beauty is still there; above all, in ghostly Hamarweyne, where photographer Pascal Maitre and I [Robert Draper] stand in the empty boulevard and squint out at the sea until a call to prayer from a nearby mosque reminds us it is almost five in the afternoon, after which all outside activity ceases. Anyone on the streets of Mogadishu by evening is inviting misadventure.”

Robert Draper, National Geographic

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Inside the lighthouse, deteriorating spiral staircase, image by Pascal Maitre, National Geographic.

Text Source- National Geographic


Dead Sentinels: 10 abandoned lighthouses

1. Rubjerg-Knude, Denmark

2. Talacre, Wales

Construction of the Rubjerg-Knude lighthouse in Jutland, Denmark straddled the last two centuries, beginning in 1899 and finishing in 1900. The Talacre lighthouse, officially titled ‘Point of Ayr’, has stood on Talacre Beach in various incarnations since 1776, watching over ships make the trek across Liverpool Bay from the Welsh town of Lllandudno.

3. Tillamook, USA

4. Mogadishu, Somalia

The Tillamook Rock Light was built in 1881 on a rock off Oregon coast. It was born in blood; with its grand opening overshadowed by a nearby shipwreck just days before its guardian gas-light was lit. The crumbling Italian lighthouse perched on the edge of Mogadishu’s Old Harbor was built over a century ago, and abandoned some 20 years ago as trade dried up to the failed state of Somalia.

5. Grand Cay, Bahamas

6. Klein Curacao, Caribbean

The lighthouse on Great Isaac Cay, a small island in the Bahamas around 20 miles north-east of the Bimini Islands, was built in 1859 to guide trade-ships carrying exports of sun-dried sea salt from Inagua The Klein Curacao (‘Little Curacao’) lighthouse was first built in 1850, on a tiny spit of land 11km off the southeastern tip of Curacao in the Caribbean Sea.

7. Capo d’Otranto, Italy

8. Aniva Rock, Russia

The Capo d’Otranto lighthouse was built in 1867, situated at Italy’s most eastern point, marking the point where the Ionian and Adriatic Seas meet. It was abandoned in the 1970’s The Aniva lighthouse was built by the Japanese in 1939, on a chunk of rock off the southern coast of Sakhalin, a thin 950 km long island situated just east of Russia.

9. Ship John Shoal, USA

10. Fish Fluke Point, Canada

Construction of the Ship John Shoal Lighthouse in Delaware Bay took 27 years, from a decision by the US Congress in 1850 that a light was needed through various incarnations. The Grand Harbor Lighthouse on Fish Fluke Point, Ross Island, was built in 1879, a square wooden tower 32-feet tall with the Keeper’s dwelling attached.

See many more abandoned places in the ruins gallery.

Explore more Japanese ruins (haikyo) in the galleries:

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You can also read SF & Fantasy stories inspired by ruins.

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Comments 4

  1. Mogadishu Lighthouse: My father built a new mechanism for this lighthouse back in the mid 1960s. He was so passionate and optimistic about the future.

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