Cabo da Roca Lighthouse

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Cabo da Roca Lighthouse
Farol do Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca (2426924641).jpg
The lighthouse complex on the edge of the Cape
Cabo da Roca Lighthouse is located in Portugal
Cabo da Roca Lighthouse
Coordinates38°46′55.2″N 9°29′50.4″W / 38.782000°N 9.497333°W / 38.782000; -9.497333Coordinates: 38°46′55.2″N 9°29′50.4″W / 38.782000°N 9.497333°W / 38.782000; -9.497333
Year first constructed1772
Constructionsotne tower
Tower shapesquare tower with balcony and lantern rising from a 1-storey keeper's house
Markings / patternwhite tower and unpainted stone trim, red lantern
Tower height22 metres (72 ft)
Focal height165 metres (541 ft)
Original lens16 Argand lamps with parabolic reflectors
Current lenscrystal optic with a third-order Fresnel rotational beacon
Intensity3000 W
Range25.92 nautical mile Edit this on Wikidata
CharacteristicFl (4) W 18s.
Fog signalinactive
Admiralty numberD2108[1]
NGA number3376[2]
ARLHS numberPOR-007[3]
Portugal numberPT-186[4]
Managing agentDirectorate for Lighthouses
(Direcção de Faróis)
HeritageIncluded in the Protected Area of Sintra-Cascais (PT031111050264)

The Cabo da Roca Lighthouse (Portuguese: Farol de Cabo da Roca) is a beacon/lighthouse located 165 metres (541 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean, on Portugal's (and continental Europe's) most westerly extent (Cabo da Roca). It is located in the civil parish of Colares, in the municipality of Sintra, situated on a promontory that juts out into the ocean, made up of granite boulders and interspersed limestone. It is a third-order lighthouse, which originally began operating in 1772. It was the first new purpose-built lighthouse to be constructed in the country: the older lighthouses in existence at that time, were constructed on existing platforms or from pre-existing beacons.[5]


Cabo da Roca, a tourist attraction and limit of continental Europe, with the lighthouse in the background
Close-up of the base and main tower of the Cabo da Roca complex
Main beacon on the lighthouse

The initiative to construct the lighthouse came from the Junta Geral da Fazenda do Reino on 1 February 1758, in an order to construct six lighthouses strategically throughout the country to assist navigation.[5]

Cabo da Roca lighthouse began operating in 1772, becoming the third oldest lighthouse along the Portuguese coast.[5]

During the management of civil engineer Gaudêncio Fontana (1843), the lighthouse was updated with a new rotation platform, comprising sixteen Argand lamps with parabolic reflectors.[5] Yet, by 1865, there were critics of the system, noting the inefficiency of the lighthouse. Over time this was addressed by the installation of a blow-horn signal and the renovation to electric-powered machines.[5] The "electrical" lighthouse began functioning in 1897, with a system that included a backup petroleum lamp.[5] The main unit was a fourth-order optical system, with rotational platform and clock mechanism, and was paired with a steam siren.[5]

In 1917 a building was constructed to produce the acetylene gas necessary to power a new lamp system.[5]

The siren was replaced in 1932 by a compressed air blow-horn, while a lighthouse radio system was installed in 1937.[5] During the post-World War era a new fourth-order optical system replaced the older mechanism, but was quickly substituted by a third-order lamp with a 3000 Watt lamp. At the end of the 1940s, the site was reached by public water and sewage.[5]

During the mid-1950s, the Direcção Geral dos Edifícios e Monumentos Nacionais (DGEMN) (General Directorate for Buildings and National Monuments), and its Serviços de Construcção e Conservação (Construction and Conservation Service) branch, was responsible for periodical conservation and maintenance of the lighthouse: in 1956 a renovation was undertaken.[5]

It was only in 1980 when the electrical grid reached the site, resulting in the 1982 installation of an electrical siren.[5] By 1990, the lighthouse was automated and the acetylene production facility was closed.[5]

In 2000, the electrical siren ceased to function, and the following year, the radio system was deactivated.[5]


The lighthouse stands 22 metres at its base (its light commands a 165-metre beam from sea level).[5] In addition to the main tower, the complex is composed of nine buildings, since prior to electrification, it was necessary to marshall a team to maintain the lamp, store valuable equipment and produce the Acetylene necessary to run the torch.[5] Currently, the lighthouse supports a team of three lighthouse keepers, in order to monitor the lamp and signal/communicate between Cabo da Roca and Ericeira.[5]

It is accessible by the Estrada do Cabo da Roca, and situated on the tip of the cape, on land that is considered the most western extent of continental Europe. Although not on that point, it does occupy the safest position on the Cape to monitor and safeguard the navigable seas, with a coastal panorama.[5]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Admiralty List of Lights (ALL)". Notice to Mariners. Taunton, Sommerset, England: United Kingdom Hydrographic Office. 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  2. ^ "NGA List of Lights". Maritime Safety Information. Springfield, Virginia: U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  3. ^ "ARLHS World List of Lights (WLOL)". Identification Codes. Merchantville, New Jersey: Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society/The Weidner Publishing Group. 2003. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  4. ^ Cabo da Roca The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved March 19, 2016
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Costa, Patricia (2004). SIPA (ed.). "Farol do Cabo da Roca" (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico.


  • MOP, ed. (1957), Relatório da Actividade do Ministério no ano de 1956 (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: Ministério das Obras Públicas