It is one of the landmark buildings of Mogadishu, even after it has been largely reduced to ruins during the war: the lighthouse of the city. So much so, that it is one of the first stops on our visit to the capital. After we get off the car, one of the armed guards opens a panel in a wall, and we step inside a compound. It is clear that these were once beautiful buildings; if you look carefully, you can still see details of decorations on the walls. Like so many others in Mogadishu, these buildings did not survive the war. Walking past them, where small boats are haphazardly lying on the ground, we reach the hexagonal tower. It lies at a natural strategic point, and therefore saw heavy fighting in the war.
My guide tells me that it was built by the Italians, but other sources say that the origins might be pre-colonial, and that it is not even certain whether this was ever officially used as a lighthouse. When we enter the building, we can look straight to where the light once must has been. A spiral staircase leads up, but is largely destroyed. The floors have holes in them, you can see the rusty threads sticking out of the concrete. I manage to climb up one floor, which requires holding on to one of the rusty threads, hoping it won't break. Once there, I meet a caretaker, who has his bed, and a radio, in one of the rooms. Or, well, room: a space with openings in the walls, no door, no windows, and nothing but a rickety bed. I walk into the spaces around the tower, which offer views either towards the sea, the ruins we have just walked through, or the small beach under the tower.
Once downstairs again, we walk down the stair on the side, past street stalls selling mangoes, to the fine sand of the small, secluded beach. Ahead of us, the ruins of the Uruba hotel, currently housing the African Union soldiers. It is a Friday, and there are lots of people on the beach; playing in the water, coming from one of the many boats, or playing football. When I turn around, and see the lighthouse at the far end of the beach, with the boats bobbing on the waves, I realize that this must have been one of the prettiest corners of Mogadishu. Before, that is, the lighthouse was reduced to rubble, and the surrounding buildings were destroyed.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Mogadishu lighthouse (Somalia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Mogadishu lighthouse.
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