An enchanting lighthouse island in the middle of the sea
Far out in the outer Hitis archipelago lies Bengtskär, the southernmost inhabited island in our country, with its 52-metre high lighthouse, the highest in the Nordic region. After ascending the 252 steps of the spiral staircase and climbing two ladders, visitors enter the lighthouse’s lantern room. The view of the Archipelago Sea is unparalleled from here. There are many ways to describe the atmosphere of the lighthouse island, but you need to experience Bengtskär for yourself. On the one-and-a-half-hectare barren island, the senses come alive, and you will never forget the sounds and smells of the sea.
Bengtskär lighthouse was designed by architect Florentin Granholm in the late 19th century. Construction began in the early spring of 1906 and was completed in the same year, a real achievement given the inaccessible location and the construction techniques of the time. The granite for the foundations and the facades was quarried on the spot. The lighthouse was maintained by a senior lighthouse keeper, an engineer and three lighthouse keepers and their families, a total of 15 people. The population peaked in the late 1930s, when 32 adults and children lived on the skerry.
The lighthouse was attacked for the first time during World War I, when the Russian cruisers Magdeburg and Augsburg hit it with some thirty shells. The next incident took place during World War II, during the Battle of Bengtskär on 26–27 July 1941. This time the damage and losses were much greater. The guided tour briefly covers the events of the Battle of Bengtskär, and visitors can also learn more about the subject in the exhibition on the ground floor of the lighthouse.
Day visitors are served delicious butter buns, salty and sweet snacks and drinks. The café sells souvenirs. Postcards sent from the island are stamped with Bengtskär’s own postmark.
It is also possible to spend an unforgettable night on Bengtskär in one of the seven popular hotel rooms. There are 25 beds in total. In the evening, overnight guests can enjoy delicious archipelago food and a gentle steam in the granite sauna, which is over a century old.
From disrepair to new glory
The lighthouse’s gas lantern was automated in 1968, after which the building was left cold and uninhabited for decades. Damage and a lack of heating led to the lighthouse falling into disrepair until the Finnish Maritime Administration leased the building to the Centre for Continuing Education at Åbo Akademi University in 1992. The lighthouse was restored to its original glory under the leadership of Paula and Per Wilson, and in 2000 it was sold to the Turku University Foundation. The Wilsons managed the lighthouse and the services until 2022, when responsibility began to pass to Paula’s and Per’s daughter Nora Wilson and her husband Henrik Wilson.
– No major changes will be made at Bengtskär, but our vision is to provide more information about the everyday life of the lighthouse keeper families than before. We are also considering various digital experiences both on the lighthouse island and online, says Nora Wilson.
The main changes concern the lighthouse’s electricity and heat supply.
– A long power cable has been laid on the seabed from the mainland to Bengtskär. We are also considering geothermal energy and solar panels. They would help us improve the operational reliability of the lighthouse and avoid our current dependence on oil, says Nora.
Passenger boats for which you pay serve Bengtskär from Kasnäs, Örö, Rosala and Hangö between May and September.