The Lighthouse of Agios Nikolaos | Its old lens The Lighthouse of Agios Nikolaos welcomes its visitors at the port of Kea. It was built in 1831 on the ruins of the holy temple of Poseidon by the French Company of Lighthouses at the expense of the Municipality of Kea. It is the first lighthouse to light in the Cyclades and one of the two first lighthouses of the Greek Lighthouse Network.
It has been characterized as a monument, based on the decision of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, as it is a “particularly remarkable architectural construction and a representative sample of a special category of buildings, i.e. lighthouses; it has contributed to the development and safety of navigation in the area, whereas it is connected to the naval tradition of Greece and is a reference point for sailors, as well as for the island’s inhabitants”.
It is stone-built with a square tower with a height of 8 m and focal height of 32 m. On its ground floor there is available residence for lighthouse keepers. Next and attached to the lighthouse is the chapel of Agios Nikolaos, from which it got its name.
It used to operate with a complex gear system. These gears used to help to rotate a mechanism, which with the use of magnifying flat convex lenses (Fresnel Lens) produced the flashing – “identity” of the lighthouse. Sailors could count from afar and in the darkness the frequency of the flashing and in this way they found the lighthouse on the map and calculated the position of their ship.
Its lens was made of thick and transparent crystal. During World War II, the lighthouse was hit by a machine gun by a German aircraft (Stuka) and as a result, two of the lens’s crystals were broken. During the war, the lighthouse remained off and re-operated in 1945 within the context of reconstruction of the Lighthouse Network. Over the period 2007-2013, the lighthouse was repaired with funding from the Lighthouse Service of Greece.
It initially operated with acetylene and then with paraffin oil, whereas there were double lighthouse keeper shifts. In 1994 its lens was replaced and the Lighthouse needs were now covered by an automated machine with the use of electricity, without the constant supervision by a lighthouse keeper.
Then the president of the Community of Korissia, Mr. Ioannis Mouzakis sent a letter to the Navy General Staff – Lighthouse Service requesting that the lens of Agios Nikolaos remain at the Community of Korissia, so as to be exhibited as a cultural and historic monument of Kea. Following the positive response, the lens was transferred by hand from the Lighthouse to Kokka and from there by car to the warehouse of the Community of Korissia. Many years went by and the lens remained in a dusty corner of the warehouse, because the right place for it to be exhibited had not yet been found. Following the establishment of the Folk and Cultural Museum of Kea at Mylopotamos in 2014, the Mayor of Kea Mr. Antonis Demenegas and the Deputy Mayor at the time, now Mayor, Mrs. Rena Velissaropoulou gave the permission for the lens of the lighthouse of Agios Nikolaos to be exhibited at the above-mentioned site. | Maria Mouzaki – Chionatou
The Lighthouse Square hosts the old lens and the visitors are given the opportunity to learn more about its history and about the history of the Lighthouse of Agios Nikolaos with its present-day light in the background.