The light of the maritime lighthouses in the Balearic Islands
Lighthouses date back to the times of ancient civilizations. All these civilizations are famous for their extensive sea routes that ran the length and breadth of the Mediterranean where the Balearic Islands, throughout history, has played an important role within these maritime routes. Routes which were followed using very precise geographic maps and by using a series of lighthouses which extended along the coastline whose main objective was to help determine their locations and to avoid potential dangers.
If there is something that must be noted about the lighthouses, it must be the magic, light, mystery, the sea and the dose of enchantment which is conjured up when we think about the profession of the lighthouse keeper. All this gives these buildings their well-deserved prominence on the Balearic Island coastline.
All along the coast it is not only sand which borders the coastline, the sheer cliffs with their outstanding dimensions appear and disappear creating their maritime skyline, giving rise to thousands of white sandy coves which are characteristic of the whole Mediterranean.
The lighthouses are linked to these islands by cultural, maritime and architectural links with a total of 34 buildings spread all over the islands.
The lighthouse forever linked to the lighthouse keeper has been a part of the coastal regions throughout the history of sailing. Among the most famous lighthouses in the Balearic Islands, the most noteworthy are “La Mola” in Formentera, the “Portopí” lighthouse or the “Botafoc” and the “Mur” in the Ibiza harbour among many others.
In the Balearic Islands there exists a large network of lighthouses spread all over the islands, set up to ensure that the ships that sail the Mediterranean keep their course. It is not only symbolism or poetry, the work of the lighthouses serves as a point of reference for sea faring folk.
Behind each of these buildings and constructions that fight against the harsh climatic elements they stand to carry out this precise nautical job. Although they are linked together, a world of architecture and beauty is maintained in these buildings, above all for the visitors who come to these islands and visit the island lighthouses.
The construction of the building is usually made up of a quadrangular tower and a house as an annex. The beams of light are sent out from this tower with a geographic reach which can reach an extreme depth and whose bright light can reach out over the sea coming from a mere bulb or revolving lantern.
The lighthouses are patrimony of the Balearic Islands and make up part of the human and natural landscape. The admiration which these buildings inspire is astonishing not only because of what they symbolise but for the job they carry out.
To build the island lighthouses certain criteria was adhered to, especially the neo-classic art criteria that inspired a whole generation of architects in the XIX century. The architectural style was used for most of the public buildings and transmits the values of the train of thought that existed at the beginning of the century. The Balearic islands lighthouses transmit this architectural and social tradition of the time that grew with a Mediterranean air.
The lighthouses on the island all show similar structures. They only vary in the height of the towers. The lighthouse keepers’ houses, the storerooms and the machinery rooms are all found at the base. They also possess a spiral staircase that leads up into the tower where the machinery which turns the light projector around as well as a lightening rod which tops the tower off, can be found.
The lighthouses vary in their positioning and the distance at which their light beams that they send out must reach. The first class ones, found on the peninsulas and capes, herald the proximity of the coastline from great distances and have a revolving light. The second, third and fourth class ones are only for reference for cabotage navigation. The fifth and sixth class ones are used to show the entrance to a harbour or to indicate the direction of a ship at a certain point in its voyage.
The beauty of the lighthouses, together with the Mediterranean waters is astounding. Among the most beautiful, the Favàritx lighthouse on the northern coast of Minorca stands out. It is to be found in a harsh area as is all the north of the island of Minorca which is lashed by the strength of the Tramutana winds, we are speaking about the Cavelleria Lighthouse. At the “punta de Moscarter” in Ibiza we can find one of the tallest lighthouses in the Balearic Islands with a tower which reaches 52 metres into the sky above a 42 metre cliff and serves as a reference point between Tagomago and Sa Conillera. In Majorca, the Portopí lighthouse is the oldest on all the islands and one of the first in all the Western Mediterranean. The Alcanada lighthouse in the Alcudia area named because it is built on the island of Alcanada or the Formentor lighthouse because of the beautiful surrounding countryside stand out because of their beauty and uniqueness.
Plan the course of your visit and discover these buildings placed at emblematic points in the Balearic Mediterranean. Enjoy the architectural beauty and maritime uniqueness that surround them and breathe in the magic, light and dreams of the visitor and discover the lighthouses that are dotted along the Balearic coastlines. They used to be fire in the night but nowadays they are lit with electric lights but they still arouse a lot of curiosity. Lights that have always been the best company for the sailor on dark nights after various long days of sailing, a guide to their destination.
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