They are limit places, stages of countless legends, protagonists of metaphors, poetry and present in the cinematographic imagination. Lighthouses are a guiding light, and Portugal is full of them.
With an extensive coastline of 943 kilometers in mainland Portugal, 667 kilometers in the Azores and 250 kilometers in Madeira, it is no wonder that our country has a remarkable maritime history .
The Portuguese navigators threw themselves out to sea and set out in search of distant lands, but always with the hope of finding their way back home.
That's why lighthouses played a fundamental role in the history of Portugal and are still national monuments that arouse much interest today.
Cabo de São Vicente Lighthouse. By Rui Gloria
According to the Portuguese Maritime Authority , in Portugal there are 30 lighthouses on the mainland, 16 in the Azores and 7 in Madeira, constituting a priceless heritage that began around the 16th century.
We have selected some lighthouses that you can visit in Portugal , each with its own light, a unique view and many stories to tell.
Lighthouse of Cabo de Santa Maria. By Manjeet Bawa
The Cabo de Santa Maria Lighthouse dates back to 1851. This lighthouse was the first in Portugal to receive a second-order Fresnel lenticular apparatus with a focal length of 700mm, which allowed white light to reach 15 miles, installed in the high of a cylindrical tower of 35 meters. In 1922, the tower was increased by 12 meters, now measuring 47 meters.
Leça Lighthouse. By Victor Oliveira
Also known as Boa Nova Lighthouse, this lighthouse has the shape of a white conical tower, in reinforced concrete, with narrow black strips and outbuildings. It is located between the bars of the rivers Ave and Douro, about two kilometers north of the mouth of the river Leça where the Port of Leixões is located.
In the annex building there is a small museum, which you can also visit, with an exhibition of pieces and mechanisms related to the theme of lighthouses. In the outer enclosure, there is still the column and lantern of the old Farolim das Sobreiras.
Located on Barra beach in Gafanha da Nazaré, Farol da Barra is the largest lighthouse in Portugal.
At the time of its construction, between the years 1885 and 1893, it was the sixth largest in the world in stone masonry, and currently remains the second largest in the Iberian Peninsula, being included in the 26 largest in the world .
The Berlenga Lighthouse is located at the highest point of Berlenga Grande. It is a square masonry tower, white, with adjoining buildings, 29 meters high.
Between 1897 and 1985, one of the two hyper-radiating Fresnel lenses that equipped the Portuguese lighthouses was installed in this lighthouse, and is now on display at the Museum Center of the Faroes Direction, in Paço de Arcos.
The Penedo da Saudade Lighthouse is located in São Pedro de Moel.
It is a quadrangular masonry tower, with an annex building covered with reddish brown tiles and red light.
It is 32 meters tall and came into operation in February 1912.
Along the entire coast of mainland Portugal and the islands, lighthouses are present, illuminating navigators. They are true works of art at an architectural level and carry with them centuries of history of a country linked to the sea that they illuminate. These are some of lighthouses in Portugal that you can visit, in an enchanting setting.
The Cabo da Roca Lighthouse is one of the oldest on our coast and came into operation in 1772, and is currently the second oldest on our coast.
The lighthouse is located at an altitude of 165m above sea level and has a height of 22 m. Its light has a range of approximately 48 kilometers.
The Directorate of Lighthouses in Portugal (Direção de Faróis) is responsible for managing the country's 47 lighthouses, as well as other marine navigation activities. It is headquartered in Paço de Arcos .
Located in Ponta do Cavaleiro, the Cabo Sardão Lighthouse was first proposed in 1883, but only came into operation in April 1915.
It is a quadrangular white tower, in masonry, with an annex building surmounted by a red cylindrical lantern, it is 17 meters tall.
Lighthouses have played an important role in Portugals maritime history. Portuguese sailors launched and led the Age of Discovery, and Portuguese ships have been sailing to far parts of the world for around 600 years.
It is, therefore, not surprising that lighthouses have developed along the entire length of the country's coast and that today many are highly cherished national monuments.
Since 1892, the Portuguese Navy has been responsible for maintaining the lighthouse network on the coast of Portugal. This is the responsibility of its Directorate of Lighthouses, which is a part of the National Maritime Authority (Autoridade Marítima Nacional). The Directorate was founded in 1924.
Built in 1880, the Cabo de Sines Lighthouse is composed of two annex buildings, a white cylindrical tower, 22 meters high, and a red light.
Let us have a look further in the Atlantic Archipelagos of Portugal.
Located in the eastern part of the island of São Miguel, the Ponta do Arnel Lighthouse was the first to be installed in the Azores archipelago, having started operating in November 1876.
Over the years, the lighthouse underwent several improvements and adaptations, which allowed it to reach the present day, maintaining its functions of maritime signalling and constituting a landmark in the heritage of the municipality of Nordeste.
The Albernaz Lighthouse is located at the tip of Albernaz, on the island of Flores, in the Azores. It is the westernmost lighthouse in the archipelago and in Europe.
It was built in the extreme northwest of the island, on a high cliff, facing the direction from which most of the maritime traffic that demanded its waters came from. The Albarnaz Lighthouse started operating in January 1925.
The Ponta Garça Lighthouse is located in Lugar do Cinzeiro, parish of Ponta Garça, on the south coast of the island of São Miguel, Azores.
The lighthouse was built in 1957 and is installed on top of a 14 meter high white cylindrical tower with an annex building.
Find out more, about Portuguese lighthouse, locations, characteristics and visit times here
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