Acclaimed symbol of Genoa, to confirm both the seafaring power of the city, overlooking the Mediterranean, and its commercial and mercantile vocation, it was an evident architectural element for those who entered the city from the sea. The LANTERN, called Lighthouse Tower, has ancient origins.
The sources report its construction around 1128 and, from the beginning, it was built to indicate the port entrance to the sailors.
On the top, dried stalks of heather ("brugo") or broom ("brusca") were lit and sailors who benefited from this 'service' had to pay a tax for the light when the ship docked.
In 1326, the first lantern powered by olive oil was installed and in 1340 the coat of arms of the municipality of Genoa was painted.
Around 1400, the tower became also a prison to host the king of Cyprus, Giacomo di Lusignano, together with his wife as hostages for five years.
Of course the primitive aspect of the tower was not the current one. It consisted originally of three overlapping crenellated structures and, due to the many damages suffered over the centuries, it was restored several times.
A real reconstruction almost from scratch began in 1543, at the behest of the doge Andrea Centurione and with the financing of San Giorgio Bank. This is almost how it appears today.
During its first centuries of life, the Lantern was located outside the town, isolated, extended towards the sea, built on the land extremity that closed the port arch of Genoa: the rocky promontory of Capodifaro, overlooking the sea and separating the city from the village of Sampierdarena.
Only in the seventeenth century the mighty New Walls included the lantern into the perimeter of the city.
The current situation is quite different: the lantern has been absorbed by the context and its grandeur reduced, overturning the dimensional relationship between the surrounding buildings and the tower.
Today the Lantern continues to perform its primitive function, even if with a modern point of view, by sending optical signals for both ships and planes and electromagnetic and acoustic signals, in case of poor visibility.