The Algeciras Port Authority has recently finalised the construction of the brand-new, state of the art Punta Paloma lighthouse within the Parque Natural del Estrecho. Boasting a modern and unusual design; the new lighthouse will not only serve as a guide for ships in the Strait of Gibraltar, but also as an iconic landmark.
Ships crossing the Strait of Gibraltar have a new guiding light: The Punta Paloma Lighthouse along the Valdevaqueros cove in Tarifa. Nestled within the Parque Natural del Estrecho, this artistically designed lighthouse has taken over from the previous facilities which had been built in 2007.
The Algeciras Port Authority (APBA) finalised the construction of the Punta Paloma Lighthouse over the course of the last year, and it’s eye catching, octagonal design makes it quite an unusual landmark.
The Algeciras Port Authority told us that the project has cost nearly €500,000 (approx. £430,000) from scratch, a change from the previous lighthouse which was built using prefabricated segments.
The project was approved by the Puertos del Estado organisation following an in depth review by the Spanish Lighthouse Commission.
The construction was also carried out in line with stringent environmental protection and preservation requirements that exist in the Parque Natural del Estrecho.
The Punta Paloma Lighthouse is octagonal, and spirals about 10 degrees south as it increases in height with a focal plane with an elevation of 50+ above sea level.
Of course, the navigation shaft has been designed with adequate dimensions suitable for a lighthouse, with a southernly orientation and appropriate height.
The Punta Paloma Lighthouse is designed by Manuel Matoses, an official Algeciras government architect, together with the Spanish “Department of Maritime Signals” and the “Sub-Directorate of Infrastructure” with the “Area of Aid to Maritime Navigation of State Ports” overseeing the project.
Matoses explained to ReachExtra that the materials used for the construction of the lighthouse were chosen to match the colour of the sand dunes that you would typically find in Tarifa.
“The lighthouse is octagonal and twists with the easterly and westerly winds, which has caused a lag of about 10 degrees, so that, in this way, form follows function.”
José Luis Hormaechea, the General Director of the APBA, said that the construction has been carried out with three goals: uniqueness, seamless integration with its surroundings and, of course, functionality.
The lower sections of the lighthouse are now occupied by “Arquitectura 77” magazine, who wrote a full-length feature on the surroundings.
They explained that the new lighthouse has maintained its ground floor which houses technical facilities, a fully fitted work space on the first floor and the second floor houses the crucial guide light.
The Punta Paloma Lighthouse has been in operation since early 2021 and has been visited by president of the OPPE (Public Organisation of State Ports) Francisco Toledo and President of the APBA, Gerardo Landaluce, along with their colleagues.
Toledo explained that safe passage is always the OPPE’s top priority, especially in the Strait of Gibraltar which sees massive amounts of traffic throughout the year.
The most perilous area for ships is known as the Bajo de los Cabezos, which has been marked as a “red zone” by the Punta Paloma Lighthouse authorities, which is situated in the Valdevaqueros cove.
Rennovations of the Isla de las Palomas Lighthouse Underway
The APBA told us that they are also currently engaged in renovating the iconic Isla de las Palomas lighthouse, which is the southernmost building in the European continent and the first of its kind to be built in the Strait of Gibraltar. It dates back to 1813 and has been in operation for well over 2 centuries.
The renovation will involve adapting and modernising the facilities for current-day maritime navigation, which has become increasingly digitalised, and to convert sections into tourist offices and an interpretation centre.
These works are costing approximately €750,000 and are expected to be completed by the end of the year; with the facilities expected to be open to the public in 2022.