Since ancient times lighthouses have served to signal ports or danger for a safe navigation.

Lighthouses were absolutely essential to seamen to know where they were, how close to the rocks they were, and where to find safe harbor.

In the past lighthouses were actually given by nature, as sailors sometimes used landmarks such as glowing volcanoes to guide them. The very early devices used as lighthouses consisted of simple lamps hung from trees or controlled fires on hillsides probably used in Africa and Egypt as markers to guide ships into port.

Although it would be difficult to date the first "lighthouse" in history, the most representative of all certainly was the Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria, a lofty tower (between 393 and 450 ft. tall), with a 29 miles range, built between 280 and 247 BC. Pharos became then the etymological origin of the word 'lighthouse' in Greek (φάρος), and in many languages (“Farum” in Latin, “Faro” in Italian). It was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and it worked for as long as sixteen centuries.

All the lighthouses built afterwards took it as a model, such as the magnificent lighthouse in the Roman Harbour at Ostia, depicted in many coins -in ancient times, a lighthouse in a city harbor was a symbol of power and prestige - and especially in the mosaics of the so called “Piazzale delle Corporazioni” (Forum of Corporations) in Ostia Antica. Other important lighthouses of the Roman times were built in Brindisi and in Capri, whilst on the Trajan Coloumn in Rome is depicted the Lighthouse of Ancona.

The only ancient Roman lighthouse still in use is the so called Tower of Hercules which stands at the entrance of La Coruña harbour in Galicia (Spain). The lighthouse (185ft. tall) was probably remodeled during the reign of Trajan (98-117 AD) and it was listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

In Britain, shortly after their invasion in 43 AD, the Romans built two lighthouses. The remains of one of them, 25 m. in height, are still visible on the eastern heights of Dover, within the fortification of Dover Castle.