The Tahkuna peninsula at the northern tip of Hiiumaa is the site of Estonia's tallest cast-iron lighthouse. The 43-meter high, state-of-the-art white tower with a green cupola was assembled in 1875 from parts manufactured in France. The slender, distinctively square-patterned lighthouse's various floors host exhibitions and installations, and the facility is used for theater performances and concerts. The lantern room and balcony are accessible via an elegant, characteristically French spiral staircase. A seaside hiking trail leads from the lighthouse to another landmark, the Tahkuna greatstone, and onwards into primal forest. Smart benches provide an overview of the lighthouse's history, the local nature, military heritage, and seafaring traditions.
At the foot of the tower is a café and souvenir shop.
With the completion of the St Petersburg-Paldiski railroad, the importance of local ports increased, so lighthouses that helped improve navigation in the Gulf of Finland were prioritized. Designs for Tahkuna were drawn up at the same time as the Ristna beacon, and together they were meant to mark the Hiiu shallows. The tower's square-pattern look is due to its cast-iron construction, with specially shaped parts that cover joints in such a way as to keep moisture out of the interior. Cast-iron towers did not require buttressing, and rested on their own weight. The cast-iron modular tower was developed by English engineer Alexander Gordon, and his building method – first introduced at a Jamaican lighthouse in 1841 – quickly gained fame.
The Tahkuna lighthouse is well-preserved. Only the prismatic glass of the dioptric light source, damaged in WWI, was replaced with optical lenses ordered from England in 1920.
The Tahkuna compound gives a good overview of the lifestyle at a shore-side lighthouse. Surviving outbuildings include a sauna from the second half of the 19th century, a stone kerosene store, a cellar, and a 20th century wooden residence and generator building.