Lighthouses of Russia: Volga, Kama and Don Waterways

Russia has an extensive network of inland waterways. The Volga River, Europe's longest river, forms the backbone of this system as it drains southward into the landlocked Caspian Sea. The lower portion of the river is connected to the Don River and the Black Sea by the Volga-Don Canal, while the Volga-Baltic Waterway connects the upper part of the river to St. Petersburg (via Lakes Onega and Ladoga) and to the White Sea and Arctic Ocean (via Lake Onega and the White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal). In addition, the Moscow Canal connects the river to the Moscow River and the national capital, and the Kama River, a major tributary, extends the waterway system to the northeast.

During the Soviet era, a series of large dams and hydroelectric generating plants were built on the Volga. Each dam has large double locks for ships, and lighthouses were built at some of the lock entrances. These lighthouses had a navigational purpose, but they were also for show, since the dams were promoted as triumphs of Soviet engineering.

In the Soviet Union, all lighthouses were closed to foreign visitors. Since the breakup of the Soviet empire, conditions have become much more free, and many of the lighthouses listed on this page are accessible to visitors.

Since aids to navigation on these waterways are not listed on international light lists, we have very little information about them. More information certainly would be welcomed. Aids to navigation on the inland waterways are presumably maintained by the River Transport division of the Maritime Board.

The Russian word for a lighthouse is mayak (маяк); mys (мыс) is a cape and ostrov (остров) is an island.

Lighthouses of these inland waterways are not included in the international light lists, and currently none of them are listed by ARLHS.

General Sources
World of Lighthouses - Russian Inland Waterways
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Russische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.

Bol'shoy Volzhskiy Light
Bol'shoy Volzhskiy Light, Dubna, July 2008
Panoramio Creative Commons photo by Andrey Zakharov

Moskva Oblast (Moscow River and Dubna Locks) Lighthouses

Note: The Moscow Canal was built with prison labor in 1932-37. The waterway is 128 km (80 mi) long, extending from Tushino near Moscow to Dubna on the upper Volga. The canal passes through several reservoirs that provide the water supply for the city.
Moscow City Lighthouses
Moskva Shluzy
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower. The light is (or was) probably shown through a rectangular opening near the top of the tower. A photo (halfway down the page) is available, and Google has a satellite view. Shluzy ("gateway") is the name given by Google to an island in the Moscow River on the south side of Moscow. The lighthouse carried a directional light guiding vessels headed downstream to a lock gate just north of the tower. It is now hidden in vegetation. Located at the west end of the island. Site status unknown.
* Alye Parusa (Scarlet Sails) Yacht Club
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 22 m (72 ft); light characteristic unknown. Approx. 23 m (75 ft) round brick (?) tower with lantern and gallery. The tower is white with narrow red horizontal bands. Lantern painted black. Andrei Mischouk has a 2016 photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view.The lighthouse is part of a large condo development. Located on the east side of the Moscow River just below the Stroginskiy boulevard bridge in the Shchukino district of northwest Moscow. Site open, tower status unknown. Owner/site manager: Yaht-Klub Alye Parusa.

Dubna Area Lighthouses
Note: The Dubna Dam on the upper Volga, completed in 1937, created the large Ivankovo Reservoir, known informally as the Moscow Sea (Moskovskoe More). The reservoir is the principal source of water for the Moscow metropolitan area. The Moscow Canal and Volga Waterway have a joint entrance at the south end of the dam, about 1 km (0.6 mi) west of the Dubna Lock on the Volga.
* Bol'shoy Volzhskiy (Great Volga)
Date unknown (1937?). Active (?); continuous red light. 20 m (66 ft) octagonal stone tower with gallery, mounted on a square stone base. The lighthouse is unpainted. Andrey Zakharov's photo is at the top of this page, Lightphotos.net has a photo by Alexandr Melnikov, Pavel Dergachev has a 2017 photo, Natalia Pinchukova has a nice photo, a 2004 photo is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This lighthouse was the rear range light for vessels crossing the Ivankova Reservoir; the Mal'yy Volzhskiy light (next entry) is the front light. Located on the east side of the Moscow Canal about 700 m (0.4 mi) south of the entrance. Site open, tower closed.
* Mal'yy Volzhskiy (Little Volga)
Date unknown (1937?). Active (?); continuous red light. Approx. 6 m (20 ft) square masonry tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view and a very distant street view. Located at the end of an earthen jetty on the west side of the entrance to the Moscow Canal and Volga waterway from the Ivankovo Reservoir. Site apparently open, tower closed.
* Dubna Lock Upper Entrance North
Date unknown (1937?). Active (?); flashing green light. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) octagonal tower mounted on a large square concrete base. Andrey Zakharov's photo is at right, Veniamin Cheredin has a closeup 2017 photo, Oleg Smirnov has a street view, and Google has a satellite view. The tower appears to carry a daymark panel on the side facing the lake. This lighthouse stands at the end of the north jetty at the entrance to the Moscow Canal and Volga waterway from the Ivankovo Reservoir, near the Dubna Dam. Site apparently open, tower closed.
Dubna Lock Upper Entrance South
Date unknown (1937?). Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) hexagonal tower mounted on a large square concrete base. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse stands at the end of the south jetty at the junction of the Moscow Canal and Volga waterway. May be accessible only by boat. Site status unknown.
* Dubna Lock Lower Entrance
Date unknown (1937?). Inactive. Ruined octagonal tower mounted on a large square brick base. No photo available, but Google has an indistinct satellite view. This light is a twin of the Upper Entrance North Light. Located on the south side of the Volga Waterway about 1 km (0.6 mi) east (below) the Dubna Lock.
Dubna North Light
Dubna Lock Upper Entrance North Light, August 2009
Panoramio Creative Commons photo by Andrey Zakharov

Upper Volga River Lighthouses

Nizhny Novgorod Oblast Lighthouses
Note: Completed in 1957, the Gorky Dam continues to bear the Soviet-era name of the city of Nizhny Novgorod, which is located about 50 km (30 mi) downstream from the dam. The dam is actually at the city of Gorodets. The lake it creates extends 430 km (267 mi) upstream to Rybinsk. Two locks are required for ships to bypass the dam.
Gorodets (Gorky, Nizhny Novgorod) Locks Upper Entrance North
1957. Active (?); continuous green light. 10 m (33 ft) square concrete tower, wider at the top, with a lantern/observation room. Tower painted white, observation room brown. No photo available, but Andreas Hofer has a distant street view and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the north mole sheltering the locks, at the city of Gorodets. Accessible only by boat (the mole is detached from shore). Site status unknown.
Gorodets (Gorky, Nizhny Novgorod) Locks Upper Entrance South
1957. Active (?); continuous red light. 10 m (33 ft) square concrete tower, wider at the top, with a lantern/observation room. Tower painted white, observation room brown. Andrew Kiselev's photo is at right, Lightphotos.net has a photo by Dmitry Shchukin, Andreas Hofer has a distant street view, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the south mole sheltering the locks, at the city of Gorodets. This mole does not appear to be walkable. Site status unknown.
* Gorodets (Gorky, Nizhny Novgorod) Locks Lower Entrance
1957. Active (?); continuous red light. 10 m (33 ft) square concrete tower, wider at the top, with a lantern/observation room. Tower painted red with white trim. A 2014 street view by Sergey Zamudryakov shows the lighthouse restored and with its new red color. A more distant 2015 street view is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the west side of the entrance to the channel leading to the locks. This site appears to be accessible. Site probably open, tower closed.
Gorodets Locks Upper Entrance South Light
Gorodets Locks Upper Entrance South Light, May 2010
Picasaweb Creative Commons photo by Andrew Kiselev
 

Kama River Lighthouses

Note: The Kama River is the largest tributary on the east side of the Volga and a major river in its own right; in fact, at the confluence of the two rivers the Kama has the greater flow.
Permskiy Krai Lighthouses
Perm Locks Upper Entrance
1956(?). Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the main (west) breakwater protecting the entrance to the locks from the Kama (Perm) Reservoir. Site status unknown.
* Perm Locks Lower Entrance
1956(?). Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 6 m (20 ft) octagonal concrete tower painted white with a red band at the top. Lightphotos.net has a photo, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Located on the west side of the lower entrance to the locks at Perm. Site open, tower closed.
Chaykovskiy Lock Upper Entrance
1964(?). Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 5 m (17 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower. Upper half of the tower painted red (possibly black), lower half white. A 2010 photo is at right, and Google has a satellite view. Located in Chaykovskiy at the end of a long curved breakwater protecting the entrance to the lock from the Votkinsk Reservoir. Site status unknown.
Chaykovskiy Lock Lower Entrance
1964(?). Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 5 m (17 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower. Upper half of the tower painted red (possibly black), lower half white. No photo available, but Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located in Chaykovskiy on the east side of the lower entrance to the lock. Site status unknown.

Tatarstan Republic Lighthouses
Naberezhnye Chelny Lock Upper Entrance
Around 1980. Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 8 m (26 ft) round strongly conical six-legged white concrete tower. Artimiy Bikeev has a photo, Lightphotos.net has a photo by Evgeny Kuibyshev, and Google has a satellite view and a very distant street view. Located at the east (upstream) end of the breakwater protecting the lock entrance at Naberezhnye Chelny. Site status unknown.

Chaykovskiy Lock Upper Entrance Light, May 2010
Panoramio Creative Commons photo by Yanat
Naberezhnye Chelny Lock Lower Entrance
Around 1980. Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 8 m (26 ft) round strongly conical six-legged white concrete tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. The locks carry vessels around the Nizhnekamsk (Lower Kama) Dam. Located at the west (downstream) end of the breakwater protecting the lock entrance at Naberezhnye Chelny. Site status unknown.

Lower Volga River Lighthouses

Samara Oblast Lighthouses
Note: The Kuybyshev Dam, completed in 1957, pools the largest reservoir in Europe, known informally as the Kuybyshev Sea. The dam is actually located between the cities of Zhigulovsk and Tol'yatti (Togliatti). The two pairs of locks are located on the north side of the river in Tol'yatti.
Zhiguli (Kuybyshev, Tol'yatti) Breakwater North
1957. Inactive. Approx. 15 m (49 ft) square white concrete tower. No photo available, but Google has a distant street view and a fuzzy satellite view. The detached breakwater protects the upper entrance to the Kuybyshev Locks. Located at the north end of the breakwater. Accessible only by boat. Site probably open, tower closed.
Zhiguli (Kuybyshev, Tol'yatti) Breakwater South (1)
1957. Active (?); flashing green light. Approx. 15 m (49 ft) square white concrete tower. Lightphotos.net has Konstantin Poddybnyy's photo; it shows that the light was moved to a post painted with black and white bands. Google has a fuzzy satellite view. Located at the south end of the breakwater. Accessible only by boat. Site probably open, tower closed.
* Zhiguli (Kuybyshev, Tol'yatti) Locks Upper Entrance (Volnolom)
1957. Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 17 m (56 ft) round unpainted tower with gallery, upper half concrete and lower portion brick, mounted on a square 2-story red brick base. Aleksey Kouzmenko's photo is at right, Lightphotos.net has Dmitry Shchukin's photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Formerly in very poor condition, this lighthouse has been restored in recent years and may be back in service. Located at the end of the mole sheltering the lock entrance at Tol'yatti. Accessible by walking the mole; there are also excellent views from shore and from ships navigating the river. Site open, tower closed.

Chuvash Republic Lighthouse
Cheboksary Locks Upper Entrance North
Mid 1980s. Active (?); continuous green light. Round cylindrical tower painted with black and white horizontal bands. Lightphotos.net has Alexandr Melnikov's photo, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Completed in 1986, the Cheboksary Dam is the last of the great Soviet hydroelectric projects on the river. The lighthouse is at the end of the mole on the west (upstream) end of the entrance to the locks at Novocheboksarsk. Site status unknown.
* Cheboksary Locks Upper Entrance South
Mid 1980s. Inactive. Round cylindrical tower painted with black and white horizontal bands. Lightphotos.net has Alexandr Melnikov's photo, Google has a street view and an indistinct satellite view. Located onshore on the south side of the entrance to the locks at Novocheboksarsk. Site apparently open, tower closed.

Tol'yatti Locks Upper Entrance Light, March 2018
Google Plus photo by Aleksey Kouzmenko

Saratov Oblast Lighthouse
* Balakovo Locks Upper Entrance
Late 1960s. Active (?); continuous green light. Round cylindrical tower mounted on a square concrete base. The tower also carries a square daymark panel. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Completed in 1967, the Saratov Dam is one of the last of the great hydroelectric projects on the river. The locks are not at the dam, but on a side channel of the river. The lighthouse is at the end of the mole on the north side of the entrance to this channel, on the north side of the city of Balakovo. Accessible by walking the mole (the adjoining area appears to be a park). Site open, tower closed.

Volgograd Oblast Lighthouses
Note: The Volgograd Dam forms a huge reservoir north of the city of Volograd. Ordered by Stalin in 1950, it is one of the largest public works projects of the Soviet era. Completed in 1961, the dam is nearly 4 km (2.5 mi) long and has a height of 47 m (154 ft). As at all the dams on the Volga, the dam is equipped with double locks with a length of 290 m (950 ft).
* Volgograd Locks Upper Entrance East
1960 (?). Active (?); flashing green light. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) round concrete tower with lantern. The lighthouse is unpainted with narrow green bands, and the lantern is green metallic. Nikita Bobrovsky has a closeup photo, a closeup photo is available (halfway down the page), and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse is at the end of the east mole, one of two moles sheltering the lock basin at the southeastern corner of the reservoir. Site open, tower closed.
Volgograd Locks Upper Entrance West
1960 (?). Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) round concrete tower with lantern. The lighthouse is unpainted with narrow red bands, and the lantern is red metallic. Aleksey Seykin's photo is at right, Ilya Petrin has a view from the lake, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse is at the end of the west mole. Site status unknown; there are excellent views from shore and from ships navigating the river.
* Volgograd Locks Lower Entrance
1960(?). Active (?); continuous red light. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) square skeletal tower mounted atop a round concrete tower. The lighthouse is unpainted; lantern is red metallic. Sergey Khristoforov has a photo, Sergey Lato has a 2018 photo, Evgeny Lokhmatov has a closeup street view, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the west side of the entrance to the canal leading to the locks on the downstream side of Volgograd Dam. Site open, tower closed.
Volgograd Locks Upper Entrance West Light
Volgograd Locks Upper Entrance West Light, July 2006
Panoramio photo copyright Aleksey Seykin; used by permission

Volga-Don Canal Lighthouses

Note: Completed in 1952, the Volga-Don Canal is 101 km (63 mi) long. It links the long Volga River waterway to the lower Don River, which flows into the Black Sea; in this way it provides a connection between the Mediterranean and Black Seas and the landlocked Caspian Sea. A large part of the waterway runs through the Tsimlyansk Reservoir, created by damming the Don River. The waterway has a design depth of 3.5 m (11.5 ft) and has 13 single-chamber locks.
Volgograd Oblast Lighthouses
* Volga-Don Canal East Entrance
1953 (R. Yakubov). Inactive. 26 m (85 ft) square concrete tower with a round, colonnaded chamber topped by a gallery. The lighthouse is unpainted concrete. The photo at right is from a Russian article on the canal, a closeup photo and a 2008 photo are available, Lightphotos.net has a photo, a Soviet postage stamp featured the lighthouse when it was completed in 1953, Alexey Chebotarev has a midwinter lake view, and Google has a satellite view. The tower was built to honor Volga sailors who fought to protect the city during the Russian Revolution in 1918-19 and during the epic Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-43 during World War II. Located at the tip of a forested peninsula on the south side of Volgograd and the west side of the entrance from the Volga to the Volga-Don Canal. Site open; it is not known if the tower is ever open.
* Chervlenoye
1953. Active (?); flashing green light. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) square unpainted concrete block tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on the south side of the canal at the junction with a creek at Chervlenoye, about 30 km (19 mi) east of the eastern entrance to the canal. Site open, tower closed.
Gornyy Lock Lower Entrance North
1953. Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) square unpainted concrete block tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. This light and the next one frame the eastbound exit of the canal from the Bereslavsk Reservoir. Located on the north side of the canal near Gornyy. Site status unknown.
Gornyy Lock Lower Entrance South
1953. Active (?); flashing green light. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) square unpainted concrete block tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on the south side of the canal near Gornyy. Site status unknown.
* Bereslavka North
1953. Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) square unpainted concrete block tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. This light and the next one frame the westbound exit of the canal from the Bereslavsk Reservoir. Located on the north side of the canal near the Bereslavsk Dam. Site open, tower closed.
* Bereslavka South
1953. Active (?); flashing green light. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) square unpainted concrete block tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on the south side of the canal near the Bereslavsk Dam. Site open, tower closed.

Volga-Don Canal East Entrance Light
photo copyright vetert.ru
non-commerical use permitted with attribution
* Oktyabrskiy
1953. Active (?). Approx. 7 m (23 ft) square unpainted concrete block tower. No photo available, but Google has a distant satellite view. Located on the north side of the canal at a bend of the river a short distance west of a lock at Oktyabrskiy, near the midpoint of the canal. Site open, tower closed.
Karpovka Locks Upper Entrance
1953. Active (?); flashing green light. Approx. 15 m (49 ft) square concrete tower. The lighthouse is unpainted concrete. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on the south side of the entrance to the locks from the Karpovka reservoir, about 5 km (3 mi) east of the Tsimlyansk Reservoir. Site status unknown.
Volga-Don Canal West Entrance North
1953. Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 18 m (59 ft) square concrete tower with a round, colonnaded chamber topped by a gallery. The lighthouse is unpainted concrete. Lightphotos.net has Alexandr Melnikov's photo, and Google has a satellite view. This tower marks the place where eastbound vessels leave the Tsimlyansk Reservoir and enter the canal to the Volga. Located at the end of the long north mole of the lower entrance channel to the locks, south of the town of Kalach-na-Donu. Site status unknown.
Volga-Don Canal West Entrance South
1953. Active (?); flashing green light. Approx. 18 m (59 ft) square concrete tower with a round, colonnaded chamber topped by a gallery. The lighthouse is unpainted concrete. A view from the water is available, Roman Kobylkin has a 2017 view from the lake, and Google has a satellite view. This tower is located on the east side of the Tsimlyansk Reservoir about 1.2 km (3/4 mi) south of the north light (previous entry); it serves as a leading light for vessels approaching the canal. Site status unknown.

Don River Lighthouses

Rostov Oblast Lighthouses
Volgodonsk Breakwater East
1953. Active (?); flashing green light. Approx. 26 m (85 ft) square concrete tower with a round, colonnaded chamber topped by a gallery. The lighthouse is unpainted concrete. Aleksey Litovchenko's photo is at right, a 2018 photo is available, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a fuzzy satellite view. Located at the north end of the detached breakwater sheltering the upper entrance to the locks of the Tsimlyansk Dam at Volgodonsk. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed.
Volgodonsk Breakwater West
1953. Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 26 m (85 ft) square cylindrical concrete tower with red pyramidal roof. The lighthouse is unpainted concrete. Sergey Artyukhov has a photo, and Google has a fuzzy satellite view. Located at the east end of the west breakwater sheltering the upper entrance to the locks of the Tsimlyansk Dam at Volgodonsk. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed.
Volgodonsk Locks Lower Entrance
1953. Active (?); flashing red light. Approx. 26 m (85 ft) square concrete tower with a round, colonnaded chamber topped by a gallery. The lighthouse is unpainted concrete. Ivan Zagaynov has a fine photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the north side of the lower entrance to the channel leading to the locks of the Tsimlyansk Dam at Volgodonsk. Site status unknown.
Nikolayevsk Lock Upper Entrance
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 5 m (17 ft) round cylindrical white concrete tower centered on a round concrete pier. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located in the river just off the entrance to the lock channel at Nikolaevskaya. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed.

Volgodonsk Locks Lower Entrance Light, September 2011
Panoramio Creative Commons photo by Aleksey Litovchenko
Nikolayevsk Lock Lower Entrance
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) 2-stage round cylindrical white concrete tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on the south side of the entrance to the lock at Nikolaevskaya. Site and tower closed.
* Konstantinovsk
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 2 m (39 ft) round cylindrical unpainted stone tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. This may be a historic watch tower. Located at the lower entrance to the lock channel at Konstantinovsk. Site open, tower closed.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Lake Onega | Southeast: Russia Caspian Sea | South: Russia Eastern Black Sea

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Posted February 26, 2007. Checked and revised June 5, 2018. Lighthouses: 41. Site copyright 2018 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.