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France’s 16th century iconic lighthouse wins place in World Heritage list

France’s 16th century iconic lighthouse wins place in World Heritage list(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

France’s 400 years old Cordouan beacon, referred to as the "king of lighthouses," has been recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Cordouan was built at the end of the 16th century and stands in the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Gironde estuary in southwestern France in a "highly exposed and hostile environment", UNESCO's World Heritage Committee said while announcing its decision on Saturday. 

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Describing it as a "masterpiece of maritime signalling", the committee said,  "It embodies the great stages of the architectural and technological history of lighthouses and was built with the ambition of continuing the tradition of famous beacons of antiquity, illustrating the art of building lighthouses in a period of renewed navigation, when beacons played an important role as territorial markers and as instruments of safety."

The lighthouse was designed by engineer Louis de Foix, and was later remodelled by engineer Joseph Teulere in the late 18th century. The increase in its height in the late 18th century and changes to its light chamber at the same time were also noteworthy, the committee said.

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The committee described the structure as an "attest to the progress of science and technology of the period. Its architectural forms drew inspiration from ancient models, Renaissance Mannerism and the specific architectural language of France's engineering school Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees."