Lighthouses and beacons

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Lighthouses and beacons







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Tourism of Torredembarra

Guided tours of the lighthouse Torredembarra 
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The approval of the Maritime Signals Plan 1985-1989 determined the construction of necessary lighthouses so that a vessel situated 20 miles or less from the coast would be able to distinguish from an observation height of 16m at least one lighthouse. In this way the plan also considered any others that would be necessary so that a vessel situated 12 miles or less from the coast, in foggy conditions, would be able to see at least two lighthouses from an observation height of 4m above sea level.

As a consequence of this a plan for the construction of a new lighthouse in Torredembarra was established, that would cover the dark area between the lighthouses of Salou and Vilanova i la Geltrú where this criteria was not met. Its characteristics would be:

Height of focal plane: 58 m.

Geographic range for an observation height of 4 m: 20 miles

Geographic range for an observation height of 16 m: 24,1 miles.

Light intensity calculated in necessary candlepower: 38.000.

Nominal light range: 17 miles.

Nominal light range in foggy conditions: 20 miles.

Light range in average conditions: 29,3 miles.

The definitive specifications that signalling for the province of Tarragona would have to conform to were established by Ministerial Resolution on the 12th November 1987, setting out for the Torredembarra lighthouse five white signal lights with a 17 mile range. A meeting of the Lighthouse Commission on 19th February 1988, in Torredembarra, decided on a point close to the Playa de los Alemanes as a location for the lighthouse.


To rectify the shortage of lighthouses in the area and urge their building, a model lighthouse project was set out in the 60’s which extended along the whole of the coast. Good examples of this model are the Fangar and Banya lighthouses situated in the Ebro Delta. The proliferation of this functional and monotonous looking lighthouse gave rise to a certain amount of public resistance which resulted in a meeting between architects, engineers and professionals qualified for the design of the 56 new lighthouses called for in the Maritime Signals Plan 1985-89.

For the Torredembarra lighthouse a design by the architect José Llinás Carmona was agreed upon whose pre-project was acquired by the now defunct General Directorate of Ports and Coasts.


As a consequence of the Law of Ports and the Merchant Navy coming into force on 1st January 1993, the Port Authority of Tarragona took over of the responsibility of maritime signalling from the Coastal Service of Tarragona.

One of the subjects pending was the continuation of steps to build the lighthouse at Torredembarra, for which the terrain was re-surveyed to begin the works. From this survey, carried out jointly with the Mayor of Torredembarra, the Port Authority of Tarragona requested from the Lighthouse Commission, a change of location to Galera Point as a more convenient site. On the one hand, the increased height above sea level demanded a smaller tower which meant a saving in building costs and a smaller environmental impact. On the other hand, it was acknowledged that there was some subsidence detected at the approved location that seriously jeopardised the future stability of the tower on that point. The Town Council intended the lighthouse to also be a tourist attraction with a promenade from the port to its base. It offered the necessary land and was eager to provide the necessary facilities. Based on these considerations, on the 11th July 1997 the President of the State Ports approved the change to the new location.

A few days later an institutional public act was carried out in which the Mayor of Torredembarra proceeded to hand over to the Port Authority of Tarragona a piece of land measuring 12 x 17 metres for the building of the new lighthouse. The new land came from the altruistic donation of a private citizen. Following this contact was made with José Llinás, designing architect of the initial project to charge him with the writing of the executive project which he completed on 31st August 1998.


The architect’s initial idea imagined that for aesthetic reasons the tower would rise from the sea. The high cost of this solution and future structural maintenance problems that this location would mean, forced the proposal to be reconsidered and in the basic project it was presented dry land. This first project considered an octagonal white tower, 50m high, topped by a watchtower and an ornamental projecting totally surrounding the whole lamp to the height of the balcony. Around this balcony the architect distributed a series of small structures to house the lighthouses technical equipment, an office and a bar.

The inside lighting and the characteristic look of the outside was achieved by windows that rose following the shape of the staircase, two on each side every 180º. It was foreseen that a lift would ascend the 50m that there were between the floor and the light.


The changes carried out to the project, came from the smaller height of the tower due to the higher elevation of the land chosen to erect it and the elimination of the surrounding buildings that had been foreseen and that were no longer considered necessary.

To reduce environmental impact a new level was designed to house the electric generator, situated below the level of the soil and another level above the upper observation deck to house the technical equipment, which meant that the tower would rise straight from the ground without any additional elements to disturb the view. At the same time, to preserve the harmony and slenderness that had been gained due to the tower being lower than had originally been planned, the lift was eliminated which allowed the octagon size to be reduced.


The total cost of the works, including the costs of Safety and Development of the surroundings, came to 113,643,805 pesetas. On 13th August 1998, the project was technically approved and seven days later it would also be financially approved, being authorised on the corresponding meeting of 20th August 1998. The meeting was attended by the companies COPCISA, CORSA, VICSAN Construction and Contracting promoters; NECSO and COMAPA, awarding the first with the project for presenting the lowest offer of 101,978,269 pesetas and a timescale of 5 months to complete it. The contract was signed on 7th December 1998, the date of approval of the reestablishment act on 11th December 1998, the laying of the first stone on 21st December 1998 and works began on 7th January 1999


Preparation for building works of the lighthouse began on 7th January 1999. Before the work started, on 29th April 1998 a geological study of the land had already been carried out by the Test Laboratory of the School of Foremen of Tarragona, to guarantee the future stability of the lighthouse, whose satisfactory results marked the starting point for the calculation and construction of measurements and laying of foundation stones that ended on 26th February 1999. Following this came the plastering and concreting of the first setting correspondent to the basement, 2.67m high, which was followed by 8 more of 3.57m and another of 1.15m that, missing the upper top link of 0.86m with the metal structure of the observation deck and equipment area, were finished on 27th July 1999. Another relevant aspect was the building of the spiral staircase and of the metal joint that constitute the upper observation deck, the equipment room, the support turret of the tower and the parasol and exterior balcony that had to be made completely by craftsmen. The first snag encountered was the obtaining of the bronze plate that had to be imported from Germany and delayed the work by three months.

This was carried out by "Talleres Inox" of Barcelona, a specialised metalwork company which could count on such experience as the dome at the Dalí museum and that guaranteed the quality of work required. Beginning with the steps of the staircase, the construction and preassembly of the large part of metal pieces took place in the workshop, with lining of the metal covers of some of the elements carried out on site. On 1st October 1999 the installation of the staircase was restarted followed by placement of the first step completing the remaining 15 on the 22nd of the same month. At the same time the assembly and partial lining of the balcony module, equipment room and light turret. On the 27th October 1999 the assembly was completed and the whole thing was elevated into position, on top of the concrete shaft. The following month was dedicated to fitting windows, adjustments to the staircase and many finishing touches, the undertaking of the electrics, the mechanical installation of the generator, etc.

From the 24th November 1999 assembly work began on the parasol that forms the exterior balcony and the light structure and on the 3rd December 1999 the whole thing is hoisted into position at the top of the tower. Until the end of December the glazing and interior lining of the light were being completed. Also the electric, water and light installations, the finishing off of the parasol and the staircase, etc., with which the lighthouse was ready to enter into service on 31st December 1999


Special care was taken over the choice of materials to achieve the best durability possible, the best aesthetic results and minimum maintenance. For the concreting process a white concrete was chosen taking care to control the quality and the vibration by mechanical and manual means to achieve a resistance larger than the 200 kg/cm2 that was required by the design. A “Trepa” system was employed for the ENCOFRADO. The structure of the metal parts (the observation deck, equipment room, parasol and light turret) was made out of steel galvanised using heat. A bronze coating was used to cover these elements a minimum of 6% of which was tin. The galvanisation between the metals was eliminated using plastic film and insulating washers. All the screws and fixing rivets are made of stainless steel. To increase stiffness the sheet comes folded forming gaps and the interior hollows that remain between the exterior faces and the steel structure are filled using expanded polyethylene, which also serves as an insulator and to absorb sound and vibration.


The access door and the door to the meters, the staircase to the basement and the 110 litre tank for the generator are also made of stainless steel AISI-316.


The 3m diameter light is manufactured by the Maquinista Valenciana. Its made of forged iron partially covered by copper lining and brass elements. On the interior the inert metals were polished and shined and on the exterior they were left their natural colour to match the bronze plate that covers the entirety of the structure which will allow for the homogenous ageing of all the metal elements. The cast iron is protected by an antioxidant primer and two coats of grey paint. It comes from the Canary Islands from which it had been purchased more than 30 years ago to modernise the lighthouses of the archipelago without, in the end, being used. The staircase is metal and with a hollow centre, which will allow for things to be lifted using a pulley anchored to the beams on the roof of the observation area. All of it is galvanised and painted grey. The interior railing is a corkscrew made of a metal framework covered in bronze lining. It is divided into 3.5m sections joined by landings and constructively it is formed by an independent structure installed on the interior of the tower. It has a total of 189 steps and six landings which added to the 8 of the staircase to the basement and those of the staircase leading to the equipment area and the light, total 217 steps.

Surrounding it on the exterior and anchored to the interior perimeter of the tower’s octagon, is a brass handrail. The material used for floors and steps are “Prodema” boards, high in resistance and 2 cm thick. The interior walls of the observation area, equipment rooms and the light turret are tongue and groove boards finished in wood. The 8 windows of the observation room and the windows that cover the shaft are of aluminium from the Schüco International range, with bronze lined finishings. They are double glazed windows treated to absorb ultraviolet rays. On each of the six staircase landings, there are conduits used for the passing through of cabling, whose lids are silk screens of historical Spanish lighthouses. On the upper part of the silk screen a square section has been left transparent which allows light from lamps housed in the conduits through to illuminate the staircase. On the lower parts of the boards that make up the paving of the observation area there is a spotlight that also lights the staircase leaving the tower only slightly illuminated from the outside. The access staircase to the equipment room and the light are made of teak with a brass hand rail. In the equipment room there is a cupboard 1.20m high and 45cm deep made of "Prodema" boards that span five of the eight faces of the interior perimeter of the tower. Inside are housed the control and manoeuvring panels of the lighting systems and on top of it are exhibited old lamps and devises used in the lighthouses of Tarragona. Around the lamp exists a balcony or outside observation area, enclosed by the bronze plate parasol and the support railings and a “fear-remover” made of the same material, which is accessed by a door in the turret. Surrounding the tower and ascending in line with the staircase, 48 windows set into the shaft provide the visitor with a gradual view of the area surrounding the lighthouse. To avoid rainfall that runs down the windows staining the facade, each one has a window sill made of a bronze flap that gives the whole thing a fine appearance. The shaft is octagonal with reinforced concrete walls 40cm thick and 4m in diameter with a total height up to the beginning of the metal structure of 33.24.


This is made up of a change in V to house two discharge bulbs (metal halogen) of 400w and lens made up of six 350mm focal distance dioptric panels, one of which is blind and acts as an access door..

The optic panels were recovered from an old Dalen rotating acetylene gas system that was found in the Technical Centre of Maritime Signals in Alcobendas (Madrid) and were handed over by the State Ports and adapted to fit a polished brass structure designed by the company Mecaindu Reus. The whole thing is turned slowly by a magnetic action engine from the company Maquinista Valenciana, rested on a galvanised steel pedestal. As already stated the control and manoeuvre panel is found in a cupboard situated on the level immediately below. As a result of the calculations this unit gives an efficient Intensity of 475,338 candlepower and a calculated intensity, considering the luminous depth of 71,300 candlepower which makes the average range higher than the 17 miles requested in the specifications. The light is white and of five flashes repeated every 30” with a rhythm for the range limit (light 0.2 dark 4.8) 4 times light 0.2 dark 9.8. The geographic range predicted for an observation height of 4 metres is 20 miles. As an energy reserve and to avoid failure in the electricity supply there is an automatic monophase diesel generator at 1500rpm of 220V and 5KVA and a fuel tank for more than 100 hours continuous use.


Amount for building works (awaiting payment) 106.298.689 ptes

Purchase of the light : 6.894.578 ptes

Purchase of various equipment : 1.430.048 ptes.

TOTAL with VAT: 114.623.315 ptes.



The project designer was the architect José Llínás Carmona, having taken part in his report the team that integrated his professional study and the Studio of Architecture Robert Brufau and Associates, S. A., which carried out the calculations. The following have participated in the management of the works: Ramón Juanola Subirana, engineer of Paths, Channels and Ports, as director, helped by Esteban Morales, technical engineer of Public Works and Miguel Ángel Sánchez Terry, Mechanical Technician of Maritime Signals, all belonging to the Port Authority of Tarragona. Acting as assistants to the work management were the architects José Llinás Carmona and Joan Vera. On behalf of the contractors COPCISA, the person responsible was the engineer of Paths, Channels and Ports març Dalmau Figueres



The inauguration of the lighthouse took place as part of an institutional act on 30th December 1999 to which amongst many other people were present high level representatives of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, the president of the Port Authority Mr. Luís Badía and the mayor of Torredembarra, Mr. Santiago Segalá. The 30th and 31st of December were also dedicated to the finishing touches, being totally finished at 20.00 hours on the 31st. The turning on of the lighthouse happened at 00.00 hours of the 1st January 2000. To add poignancy to the event as dictated by the oldest tradition the engineer responsible for the maritime signals sent a telegram to the technician in charge of the lighthouse which read: Addressee: Miguel Ángel Sánchez Terry, Maritime Signals Technician. Salou Lighthouse (Salou) TARRAGONA “Coinciding with the beginning of the new century and the new millennium, at 00.00 hours on the 1st of January 2000 you will proceed to the lighting of the new Torredembarra lighthouse. Throughout the entire night until sunrise you will watch over the light to avoid any anomalies that may occur. Regards.” The Engineer In Charge of Service: Ramón Juanola Subirana. This way and by extraordinary coincidence, the lighthouse at Torredembarra makes history as the last lighthouse built in the 20th century and the 2nd millennium and the first lit in the 21st Century and the 3rd Millennium.


To get to the lighthouse from Tarragona you have to take the Barcelona national road until you reach the turn off for Torredembarra (13km). Once there, head towards the beach area and look for the Avenida de la Galera, in a well developed residential area. At its end, near the municipal terminal of Altafulla and on the most protruding cliff known as Galera point is found the lighthouse. As much from its closed observation area as from its exterior balcony, there is a splendid panorama of the surroundings dominated by the sporting port to be found nearby and towns in its vicinity. To the south, the horizon extends to the cape of Salou and to the northeast until it reaches the power station at Foix and the town of Vilanova i la Geltrú.

The Torredembarra lighthouse has the tallest tower of all of the lighthouses in Catalonia surpassing the Llobregat lighthouse by 7m.


Old images of Torredembarra Lighthouse



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