The Lighthouse of La Mola: the history and the future of one of the symbols of Formentera

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Joel Fulleda

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La Mola: the lighthouse symbol of the history of Formentera

By Enza Petruzziello


È one of the symbols of Formentera. His light guided navigators and adventurers, inspiring Julio Verne who set an episode of his "The adventures of Hector Servadac ".

Its history continues to fascinate and attract thousands of tourists. We are talking about his majesty, the Lighthouse of La Mola that stands out in the highest point on the island and from where you can appreciate spectacular sunrises.

Commissioned in 1847, under the reign of Isabella II, however, we will have to wait until 1861, in particular November 30, to see it come into operation. Since then the Lighthouse has served as a reference for hundreds of ships that have passed and still pass under its spectacular 12 beams of light.

A century later, these same beams continue to attract not only passing ships under the cliffs of Formentera, but also thousands of tourists who come to observe this monument, declared a heritage of cultural interest.

  1. The history of the Lighthouse of La Mola
  2. The evolution of the lighthouse
  3. 90 Guardians for a Lighthouse
  4. The future of the lighthouse
  5. You may also be interested in Formentera

The history of the Lighthouse of La Mola

The history of the lighthouse of La Mola is also the history of Formentera and about 90 families, lighthouse keepers before and technicians in light signals today. With the arrival of automation systems and after remote control, lighthouse keepers, as they were intended in the last century, are disappearing and no longer living in lighthouses. In fact, at the behest of the local government this space will be transformed into a cultural center with the name of “Faro de la Mola”.

The last lighthouse keeper of Formentera was Javier Pérez de Arévalo, who in 2001, together with his wife Kole Seoane, published “Far de Formentera”, a book which tells the story of the Mola lighthouse from its construction to the present day.

Currently, Pérez de Arévalo is a navigational aid system technician. He takes care of the maintenance of all the lighthouses, including those of Mallorca. He lived in the La Mola lighthouse between 1989 and 2001.

Remember how the Lighthouse played a very important role, especially at the time of its construction. He also acknowledges that at the moment, from the point of view of navigation aids, this lighthouse is important, although the ancient dependence of navigators on lighthouses has been mitigated, above all, by the advent of GPS.

From a patrimonial point of view, the lighthouse obviously has an exceptional value. The last lighthouse keeper describes it with passion: «We are talking about a unique construction that maintains the only Balearic lantern from 1861, and it is also the only lighthouse in the Balearic Islands that has an optic of twelve beams of lights, which transforms it into a luminous nocturnal spectacle for tourists ».


The evolution of the lighthouse

Currently, all light signals are monitored by remote control. In the case of the La Mola lighthouse, this system was implemented in 2002. This has not always been the case, of course.

The maintenance of the La Mola lighthouse has evolved over the centuries in terms of energy source. At the beginning it was "extra virgin olive oil" which was used to generate light. Taking into account that it had to be turned on for an average of twelve hours a day, it represented an important daily consumption. With this type of fuel it worked from its inauguration until 1883.

Then came the paraffin from Scotland, which was brought in from Glasgow, and was used until 1901 when oil arrived. This fuel was what powered the installation until the arrival of electric light in 1971.

90 Guardians for a Lighthouse

The La Mola lighthouse has represented much more since they came to live and work at different times until 2001, around 90 families. The last was that of Javier Pérez de Arévalo, who arrived in 1989 and who, together with his family, was the last to live in this building. The light signal technician recalls: "In the La Mola lighthouse, throughout its history, 90 guardians have passed with their families. At the beginning there were three guardians who lived in the lighthouse and sometimes the relationships between the families, inside the lighthouse, were very complicated ».

The lighthouse of La Mola, in its initial period, once a week received correspondence and supplies, which arrived by sea at Cala Codolar, from where an open path on the cliff went up to reach the lighthouse.

The future of the lighthouse

Il Formentera Council, after an agreement with the Port Authority of the Balearic Islands (APB), will open soon on cultural center "Lighthouse of the Mola", which will occupy the old houses of the lighthouse keepers.

The content that visitors will be able to appreciate in this center will have to do with its history, which will be told through information panels, objects related to the lighthouse and videos with direct testimonies of the lighthouse keepers who have lived there for years.

Another section will be dedicated to relationship between man and the sea. Transport and fishing will be some of the themes, with the display of related objects and pieces from the ethnographic collection, acquired by the Consell. Another space will be dedicated to temporary exhibitions and outside for concerts and outdoor activities.

The center will be open all year round and will be managed directly by the Consell de Formentera. This will require the hiring of customer support staff and heritage experts. As for thedaily opening, it is expected that between May and October the Lighthouse will be open every day of the week, at continuous times, and in winter it will be open a few days a week, depending on the request for visits. The cost of the restoration has reached almost 800.000 euros and the museum project amounts to approximately 180.000 euros, with funds from the Consell de Formentera.

You may also be interested in Formentera




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