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Europa Point Lighthouse

Europa Point Lighthouse
Europa Point Lighthouse at Gibraltar
Europa Point Lighthouse is located in Gibraltar
Europa Point Lighthouse
Europa Point Lighthouse
Location Europa Point, Gibraltar
Year first constructed 1841 (1841)
Year first lit 1841
Automated 1994
Construction Masonry
Tower shape Cylindrical
Markings / pattern Red horizontal band
Height 20 metres (66 ft)
Focal height 49 metres (161 ft)
Current lens 2nd Order Catadioptric
700 mm Focal Length
  • White 1,070 Candela
  • Red 208 Candela
Characteristic Oc W 10s
Oc R 10s
Fog signal HORN: 1 blast ev 20s
Admiralty number D2438
NGA number 4220
ARLHS number GIB-001

The Europa Point Lighthouse, also referred to as the Trinity Lighthouse at Europa Point and the Victoria Tower or La Farola in Llanito, is a lighthouse at Europa Point, on the southeastern tip of the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.

Europa Lighthouse was inaugurated on 1 August 1841 in a brief ceremony witnessed by about 10,000 people. The first upgrade of the lighthouse occurred in 1864, when the single-wick lamp was replaced with a Chance Brothers four-wick burner, with further changes in 1875 and in 1894 when the amount of light emitted was increased. A three incandescent mantle burner was added in 1905. Following further modernisation in the 20th century, the lighthouse was fully automated in 1994.

Europa Point Lighthouse is operated by Trinity House. The cylindrical tower is painted white, with a wide red horizontal band in the middle. The lighthouse has a height of 20 metres (66 ft) and is 49 metres (161 ft) above the high-water mark, and has a white light that occults every ten seconds. The Gibraltar Amateur Radio Society operates from the lighthouse during the third weekend of August each year.

The lighthouse's beacon may soon be retired if plans for a new UEFA Category 4 stadium go ahead.


  • History 1
  • Description 2
  • Administration 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Also known as the Trinity Lighthouse at Europa Point and the Victoria Tower,[1] the Europa Point Lighthouse, of classic British design, first underwent construction in 1838.[2][3] Sir Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar, set the first stone for the lighthouse's foundation on 26 April 1838, with the aid of the Masonic Order of Gibraltar.[2][4] The inscription read:[1]

This foundation-stone of a light-house, erected by order of the colonial government of her Majesty Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and their dependencies, in the first year of her reign, was laid on the 26th day of April, A.D. 1838, A.L. 5838, with military and masonic honours, by his Excellency Major-General Sir Alexander Woodford, K.C.B. &c. governor and commander-in-chief of the town and garrison of Gibraltar, assisted by the Rev. W. E. T. Burrow, D.D. F.R.S. Provincial Grand Master, for the protection of Mediterranean commerce, the saving of human life, and the honour of the British name.

A brief ceremony commemorated the event, which was witnessed by about 10,000 people.[1][5] Construction of the lighthouse was completed in 1841, and was inaugurated according to schedule on 1 August that year.[6] The first lighting of the Europa Point Lighthouse drew an audience of more than 2,000 people.[2][3][5]

To navigate the Bay of Gibraltar prior to the opening of the lighthouse sailors were dependent on the light emitted by the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe, Roman Catholic shrine, which was originally a mosque built after the victory of King Ferdinand IV of Spain over the Moors at the 1309 siege. They expressed their gratitude by leaving supplies of oil at the chapel, which also encouraged the continued burning of the lights.[5][7][8]

Europa Point Lighthouse in 1879

At the time of the opening of the lighthouse in 1841, a fixed light was emitted by an oil lamp with one wick. The intensity of the light was increased by a combination of a dioptric fixed lens and catoptric mirrors.[9] On 25 April 1843, lighting was upgraded to improve visibility from Sandy Bay, and in 1854, the lighthouse had a reported visibility of 16 miles (26 km).[10]

The first upgrade of the lighthouse occurred in 1864, when the single-wick lamp was replaced with a Chance Brothers four-wick burner, as well as a new lens. The improvements included a red arc of light over the hazardous Pearl Rock region.[9][11] An additional upgrade was made in 1875 when the lamp was switched out for a four-wick mineral oil burner.[9]

In 1894, the lighthouse was further altered to increase the amount of light emitted. The four-wick burner and mirrors were exchanged for a Douglass burner with eight wicks and an improved lantern; the power of the light was increased to 35,000 candela. The characteristic of the light changed from fixed to occulting. A foghorn was also installed, with two quick blasts every five minutes.[5][9] The eight-wick burner was exchanged for a three incandescent mantle burner in 1905.[9] In 1923, the burner was replaced by a Hood petroleum vapour burner with one mantle.[9]

Later, between 1954 and 1956, further extensive changes were made, and the introduction of electric lighting further improved visibility.[5][9] A much more powerful, revolving lens system was utilised for the primary optic, and a second light below the main light was included to cast a fixed red light to cover the Pearl Rock region.[1] The height of the tower was increased by 6 feet (1.8 m).[9]


Europa Point Lighthouse

The lighthouse is strategically located at the southeastern tip of the Rock of Gibraltar at Europa Point, between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, rising to 49 metres (161 ft) above the high-water mark.[2][3][9][12] The Mediterranean is to the east, the Bay of Gibraltar to the northwest, and the Strait of Gibraltar to the southwest.[3]

The lighthouse is locally known as "La Farola" (literally 'lamppost' in Spanish) in Llanito, Gibraltar's spoken vernacular.[13]

The lighthouse was fully automated in February 1994.[2] The extant optics were kept, but complemented with a three position lampchanger. The foghorn was changed to an electric model, with a directional 500 Hz emitter stack that was installed on the gallery of the lantern room.[9] The active lighthouse has a 19 metres (62 ft) masonry tower with lantern and gallery. The tower is painted white, with a single wide red horizontal band in the middle.[3] The lighthouse has a white light which occults every ten seconds. There is a continuous red light as well as an occulting red light which is on for 5.8 seconds and off for 4.2 seconds. In addition, a foghorn emits a blast every twenty seconds.[3]

In February 2014 the Gibraltar Football Association unveiled its plans for the Europa Point Stadium, a proposed UEFA Category 4 multi-function stadium, is planned for construction at Europa Point. If approved by the Development and Planning Commission, the beacon will soon be retired as the stadium will obstruct the lighthouse's beam and a new beacon is to be installed on top of the proposed stadium whilst retaining the lighthouse building as a historic landmark.[14][15]


Europa Point Lighthouse and Rock of Gibraltar, as viewed from Strait of Gibraltar

The lighthouse is the only such building outside of the United Kingdom which is operated by Trinity House, a lighthouse agency based in England.[2][3] Accordingly, it is also referred to as the Trinity Lighthouse. Trinity House became responsible for Europa Point Lighthouse at the time of an 1838 Act of Parliament. In addition, the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 resulted in Trinity House becoming the General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) for Gibraltar.[9][16] The site of the lighthouse is managed by the Government of Gibraltar, and monitoring of the lighthouse is through a reporting station connected by telephone to the Gibraltar Port Office.[3][9] The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office Admiralty Digital Lists of Lights (ADLL) number for the Europa Point Lighthouse is D2438. The United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) number is 4220.[3]

Soon after World War II, amateur radio, also called ham radio, made its appearance in Gibraltar. The Gibraltar Amateur Radio Society, with its headquarters on Coaling Island, operates from the lighthouse once annually, during the third weekend of August. The annual International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend has as its goal in Gibraltar of putting the Europa Point Lighthouse on the air, using the call sign, ZB2LGT.[17][18] The Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society (ARLHS) number for the lighthouse is GIB-001.[3]

See also


  1. ^ This was supplemental to the red sector of the main light that already indicated the dangerous area.
  1. ^ a b c  
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Europa Point". Official Gibraltar Website. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Lighthouses of Gibraltar". Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  4. ^  
  5. ^ a b c d e "Lighthouse at Europa Point". Gibraltar Travel Guide. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  6. ^ The Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review. F. Hunt. 1842. p. 578. 
  7. ^ "'"Origin of the title 'Our Lady of Europe. Catholic Diocese of Gibraltar. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Alice Mascarenhas (5 May 2009). "The Shrine of Our Lady of Europe is a Centre of Spirituality". Gibraltar Chronicle. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Europa Point". Trinity House. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  10. ^ Atlantic Navigator (1854). 1854 (2009). p. 112.  
  11. ^ Admiralty hydrogr. dept (1885). Sailing directions. Pilot for the west coasts of France, Spain, and Portugal. (3 ed.). p. 318. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  12. ^ "Historical Gibraltar Attractions". Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  13. ^ "Europa Point". Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  14. ^ Sheil, Eyleen (27 February 2014). "GFA unveils plans for Europa Point Stadium".  
  15. ^ "Europa Point Stadium – FAQs – Exizting facilities".  
  16. ^ "About Trinity House". Trinity House. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  17. ^ "Gibraltar Amateur Radio Society". Gibraltar Amateur Radio Society. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  18. ^ "Calling the world from the lighthouse". Gibraltar News from Panorama. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 

External links

Animation of photographs

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • Europa Point Lighthouse at
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