Green point lighthouse celebrate 200 year anniversary with free public tour

The iconic Green Point lighthouse, situated in Sea Point, was first lit on 12 April 1824 and celebrates its 200 years of service this year as the oldest operational lighthouse in South Africa.

History of Green Point lighthouse

Commissioned by Sir Rufane Shaw, the acting Governor of the Cape and designed by the German architect Heenan Shutte, Green Point lighthouse is now a National Heritage site.

The building of the lighthouse commenced in 1821 and was completed in 1823, with the light house being operational in 1824.

When the lighthouse was first lit, it burned Argand lamps, which were fueled using the oil from Sperm Whales.

The light from these lanterns could be seen for 6 nautical miles (11 km).

In 1865, the lighthouse was expanded to its current height, and the range of its light was extended to 22 nautical miles (40.744 km) in 1922 as a result of 3rd order dioptric flashing lights being installed. Presently, it flashes a white light every 10 seconds, reaching 25 nautical miles (46km) .

A foghorn was installed in 1926, even though a letter of complaint was sent to the Mayor of Cape Town by the residents of Green Point.


The 18m heigh building comprises of a stone walled square tower, painted with white and red diagonal stripes to make it more distinguishable from the rest of the buildings on the Foreshore.

Today the building also comprises of a small museum, visitor centre and conference centre.

What’s in a name ?

Green Point Lighthouse is often mistakenly referred to Mouille Point Lighthouse.

However, Mouille Point lighthouse was a different structure which was built near Granger Bay a few years later.

Local Residents also often refered to the Green Point Lighthouse as ” Moaning Minnie” before her foghorn was replaced with a nautophone in 1986 thanks to the bass notes emmited during fog.

Our Visit

Being that it was an advertised open day yesterday, our wait to enter the lighthouse was only 2 hours long. Obviously on am organized tour, that would not be the average wait time to go in.

The large crowd was well managed by lighthouse personnel and safety was paramount both on the narrow steps leading up to the light as well as on the balcony near the light. A limited number of visitors were allowed to go forward at a time, with the rest of the crowd waiting patiently for their turn.

It was well worth the wait as the views from the top are breathtaking and span far out into the ocean, along the promenade,  into Greenpoint Park and showing off our beautiful mountains.

For me the small details inside the building were remarkable and I will definitely visit again to get a better look.

As you ascend the ancient wooden stair case to start the three flight journey up the lighthouse you are met with a small section of stone wall that is framed highlighting the original structure before it was plastered.

Along the walls are paintings of other South African lighthouses and along the way are the cutest little windows allowing you wonderful photo opportunities abd amazing views.

Once at the top of the stairs you enter a room with a narrow staircase.This leads you up to the light and deck. The staff were wonderful at navigating us up and down and we were allowed the freedom to wonder the top of the lighthouse.

What a wonderful experience!

It’s good to note that toilets are avaliable as well as a small museum depicting various artifacts from South Africa’s lighthouses. The walls host beautiful paintings as well as photos of other lighthouses and there were a few books for sale.

We were each issued a postcard. I’m not sure if these are permanently avaliable.

Visit Green Point lighthouse

The lighthouse is open to visitors for a small fee.


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