Lighthouses of Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory at the northeastern
entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, which joins the Mediterranean Sea
and the Atlantic Ocean. It is dominated by the famous Rock of Gibraltar (see the photo below), a giant monolith 426 m (almost 1400 ft) tall.
Its name comes from the Arabic Jabal Ṭāriq, Tariq's Mountain,
after Tāriq bin Zīyād, the Berber general who led the Moslem conquest of Spain in 711-718 CE. More
important today is the conquest of Gibraltar by British and Dutch marines
during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704. As a result of that
war, Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713,
and it has remained in British hands ever since. Spain asserts a claim to the territory, but Gibraltarians rejected Spanish sovereignty by large majorities in 1967 and again in 2002.
The territory has a
population of about 28,000 and is self-governing except for defense and foreign relations. Tourism is a major industry; Gibraltar is a popular stop for cruise ships and attracts day visitors from nearby resorts in Spain.
Except for the historic lighthouse at Europa Point, aids to navigation in Gibraltar are maintained by the Gibraltar Port Authority. The Europa Point Light has always been maintained by Trinity
House, the English lighthouse authority.
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS
World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume D of the
Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers
are from Publication 113.
- General Sources
Online List of Lights
- Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
- Leuchttürme.net - Gibraltar
- Photos and historical information posted by Malte Werning.
- Lighthouses in Gibraltar
- Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
- World of Lighthouses - British Territories in Europe
- Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
europäische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
- Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Europa Point Light, Gibraltar, July 2012
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Terry Hassan
* Europa Point
- 1841 (Sir Alexander Woodford). Active; focal plane 49 m (161 ft); white
light occulting once every 10 s; also a continuous red light and second red
light on 5.8 s, off 4.2 s, displayed at a focal plane of 44 m (144 ft). 19
m (62 ft) masonry tower with lantern and gallery, painted white with one
red horizontal band in the middle of the tower. Fog horn (one blast every
20 s). Terry Hassan's photo appears above, Trabas has Helmut Seger's closeup photo,
Werning has a page with a fine photo, Wikimedia has an excellent photo by Allie Caulfield and more than 40 additional photos, C.W. Bash has a view
from the sea showing the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque behind the lighthouse,
and Google has a street view and a satellite
view. Huelse has a historic postcard
view in which the lighthouse is unpainted and another postcard
view in which it is painted white. This historic lighthouse, typically
British in design, is operated by the English lighthouse agency Trinity
House. The lighthouse was refurbished and modernized in 1954-56; its height was raised by 6 ft (1.8 m) by addition of the section just below the gallery that accommodates the red sector light. In February 2014 plans were announced for construction of a football (soccer) stadium on Europa Point. Although the lighthouse would not have to be demolished, its beam would be obstructed by the stadium. As a result, the light would be moved to a location atop the stadium. In September 2015 the government, under heavy pressure from a Save Europa Point movement, found another location for the stadium. Much more modest facilities for cricket and rugby will be built instead. In 2017 Trinity House replaced the 2nd order Fresnel lens with modern LED lamps and donated the historic lens to the University of Gibraltar. Located on Europa Point at the extreme southern tip of the Gibraltar peninsula,
with the Mediterranean to the east, the Bahía de Algeciras
to the northwest, and the Strait of Gibraltar leading southwest to
the Atlantic Ocean. Very few lighthouses can claim such a dramatic
and strategic location. Site open, tower closed. Operator: Trinity
Site manager: Government of Gibraltar.
ARLHS GIB-001; Admiralty D2438; NGA 4220.
- #Gibraltar South Mole ("A" Head) (1)
- Date unknown. Replaced in 2013. This was a 17 m (56 ft) round barbell-shaped cast iron tower surrounded by a hexagonal cast iron skeletal tower, essentially a copy of the surviving D Head Light (seen at right). The lighthouse was painted black.
The lighthouse was replaced by a 15 m (49 ft) gray fiberglass post (focal plane 18 m (59 ft); one quick white flash every
2 s). Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo,
and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the south breakwater of Gibraltar harbor,
on the west side of the Rock. Site and tower closed, but there's a good view
from the waterfront. Operator/site manager: Port
of Gibraltar. ARLHS GIB-002; Admiralty D2442; NGA 4224.
North Mole ("D" Head)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); quick-flashing red light.
17 m (56 ft) round barbell-shaped cast iron tower surrounded by a hexagonal cast iron skeletal tower; the
lantern and original gallery have been removed and superseded by the skeletal tower as a means of raising the light. Lighthouse
painted black. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo (also seen at right),
and Google has a satellite
Located at the extreme end of the L-shaped north breakwater of Gibraltar
harbor, on the west side of the Rock. Site and tower closed, but there's
a good view from the waterfront. Operator/site manager: Port
of Gibraltar. ARLHS GIB-005; Admiralty D2448; NGA 4236.
North Mole Elbow ("E"
- Date unknown. Inactive since 2013 and since removed. This was a 25
m (82 ft) square skeletal tower with a circular harbor control room, gallery,
and watch room; the light was displayed from a tall skeletal extension of
the original tower mounted in front of the control room. Lighthouse painted
gray. Google's satellite
view confirms that the tower has been removed.
Formerly located at the elbow of the L-shaped north breakwater of Gibraltar harbor, near the cruise ship terminal.
Site and tower closed. Operator/site manager: Port
of Gibraltar. ex-Admiralty D2449.2; ex-NGA 4240.
- [Gibraltar Aerobeacon]
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 405 m (1329 ft); the red light flashes
the Morse Code for GB (two long flashes and a short flash, followed by one
long flash and three short flashes) every 10 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) square skeletal tower with
a large platform topped by a round radar structure. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo, and Google has a satellite view.
The Directory does not list aviation beacons as a rule, but this one demands
an exception. Located atop the Rock of Gibraltar, it has a range of 30 nautical
miles (55 km or 34.5 mi). Site and tower closed. Operator/site manager: Government
of Gibraltar. Admiralty D2456; NGA 4256.
North Mole ("D Head") Light, Gibraltar
photo copyright Capt. Peter Mosselberger
used by permission
Rock of Gibraltar from the west, with the Europa Point Light at the tip of
the cape on the right. Photo courtesy of Capt. Paul Breslin, USN, commander
of the SS Altair; used by permission.
Information available on lost lighthouses:
- Shrine of Our Lady of Europe, Europa Point. This historic church was first established in 1309-1333, when Spain captured Gibraltar from the Moslem empire, and then re-established in 1462 when Spain recaptured Gibraltar for good. Lights were shone from the tower of the church throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, at least. The present building of the Shrine is not the original, however; the original building was demolished and rebuilt during the early years of the British occupation. Google has a satellite view.
Notable faux lighthouses:
Adjoining pages: East: Eastern Andalusia | West: Western Andalusia | South: Ceuta
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Posted January 24, 2006. Checked and revised February 14, 2018.
Lighthouses: 4. Site copyright 2018 Russ Rowlett and the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.