Lighthouses continue to be fascinating sites for shooting movies, and with over 3,700 km of coastline, Estonia has them in endless quantities.
If you search for “lighthouse” on IMDb, you’ll find one of the most bizarre phenomena in the history of moving pictures: A structure so helpful to mariners and having even fairytale-esque qualities can provoke unexplained fear and horror, at least the way filmmakers use them. Almost every movie set near or in a lighthouse portends suspense and dread if the Internet Movie Database is to be believed.
Take a look at these titles: “Horror on Snape Island,” “Hysterical,” “Haunted Lighthouse,” “Tormented,” “The Monster of Piedras Blancas,” “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” and “The Day of the Triffids.” Do these sound like movies you want to take a first date to or are they more like the names of Norwegian black metal bands?
Lighthouses continue to be fascinating sites for shooting movies, and with over 3,700 km of coastline, Estonia has them in endless quantities. We’re not kidding. If you want your film to feature world class architecture, you might as well skip the usual suspects like Hagia Sophia or Sagrada Família and head straight to the Estonian coast, which is dotted with loads of historical lighthouses, some dating back to the 16th century and still operating.
The most famous Estonian lighthouse is probably the Kihnu Lighthouse on an island of the same name in the northern Gulf of Riga. It was built in England, dismantled, brought to Estonia in 1864, and subsequently reassembled. This white lighthouse with its red lantern dome is made of tapered cast iron and has a Fresnel lens, that compact lens developed by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel. The Kihnu Lighthouse stands over 100 feet above sea level, and since 2013, pretty much anybody–even movie producers and location scouts–can climb the tower to see the striking views from its pinnacle.
If the Kihnu Lighthouse doesn’t meet your requirements, there is another stunner– Ruhnu Lighthouse. Situated on remote Ruhnu island (with fewer than 100 permanent inhabitants), this structure was built by Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, a company based in France. The French connection (pun intended for those sneaky William Friedkin fans) doesn’t end there, though. According to the locals, the tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel, whose name you may have heard because of the structure he helped to design in Paris.
If an Eiffel structure seems too contemporary for your project, head to Kõpu Lighthouse, one of the best known symbols on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa. Not only is Kõpu Lighthouse the oldest in Estonia, it’s the oldest anywhere in the Baltic States. This impressive building dates back over 500 years and was erected to help guide ships in the Hanseatic League. It stands 220 feet above sea level and is still in full operation, making the Kõpu Lighthouse the third-oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the world, lending it an air that makes it an even more exciting movie location.
In total, there are 41 lighthouses in Estonia. Pick any of them, bring your cast and crew, and Estonia will take good care of you through the Film Estonia cash-rebate program.
Used photos: Visit Estonia