Reaching the coasts and ports in Mallorca before the nineteenth century was almost a matter of aim. No lighthouses or beacons, the normal houses were the only guide to land which, evidently, was not the best way to approach a coast. It was said that even existed pirates and looters moving lights to confuse the boat capsize them and steal their loot. Europe had long time before implanted lighting costs, but Spain was, pun intended, light years. You can already imagine what went on in Mallorca.
The passage of the watchmen and bonfires on the coast to the lighthouses was long and tedious in our country. Until the nineteenth century, 23 of them watched the sea and only a handful, such as Porto Pi lighthouse, did in Mallorca. The rise of maritime trade and continuing pressure from France and England, bordering Spain on the way to its colonies, moved the adoption of the General Plan Maritime Lighting in 1847, which was something revolutionary on that period and raised the construction of 120 new lighthouse all over the country, works that went on until 1870, creating two types of construction, lighthouses and beacons, these being smaller than the lighthouses.
The Roads, Canals and Ports Engineer Emilio Pou was responsible for developing the Balearic plan and design twenty lighthouses on islands such as Cap Blanc and Cala Figuera in Mallorca, and the Punta Grossa or Botafoc in Ibiza, or in Formentera La Mola, project for which use the same model of design and construction of the Faro de Formentor. These lighthouses were built at strategic locations, usually remote and inaccessible as the case of Formentor, which required the creation of a trail in the cliffs to land materials, which forced in those early lighthouses also provide themselves with housing for their lighthouse keepers.
When he had established the first General Maritime Lighting Plan in 1847, it was necessary to arrange the maintenance of lighthouses. That is why in 1851 was created Cuerpo de Torreros de Faros (Lighthouse Keepers Corps), establishing a regulation that should govern these officials and over the years it was reformed to adapt to social and technological changes. The first of these regulations appears published in 1857.
In 1902 a second National Maritime Lighting Plan reformed some lighthouses in Mallorca and corrected errors such as the system of fixed lights because houses were confused and even stars. System long flashes that lasted nearly twenty minutes, but the darkness was still several minutes was also changed. Currently, the flashes occur every fifteen seconds.
The lighthouse of Portopí, in Palma de Mallorca harbor, which is the third oldest operating lighthouse in the world after the Tower of Hercules in La Coruña and the “Lanterna” of Genoa, already in the fourteenth century had at the top of the tower a flashlight with crystals and wood studs to protect the light produced by twelve oil lamps. Similarly, the Spanish lighthouses built in the mid nineteenth century used olive oil for this to be an abundant raw material in the country. Elsewhere they did by rapeseed oil (France) or sperm whale oil (England). Changing the olive oil to Scottish paraffin for the production of light in Mallorcan lighthouses was made in late 1883 and changed to the oil pressure system in 1901. In 1917 Portopí lighthouse pioneered in Mallorca the use of acetylene gas, which in some lights it has endured to the withdrawal of this system in 1995.
In the 90s, the electricity gives way to electronics and finally this to computing systems. Thus, in so far this century, the most important maritime signals controlled by the Port Authority of the Balearic Islands, have come to be integrated into the network monitored under remote control signals.
In 1992, the Law of Ports and Merchant Marine, which was declared to extinguish Lighthouse Keepers Corps, whose real name since 1939 was the Technical Body Mechanics Maritime Signal, was enacted.
At present, the whole system of lighthouses and beacons in Mallorca, as well as in the rest of the islands, depends on the Balearic Port Authority, which is in charge of operation and maintenance. Systems for satellite navigation have raised their possible disappearance but its maintenance is inexpensive and are a redundancy which gives safer. Besides that recreational boats and inshore fishing are still using them. The figure of the lighthouses and beacons has become a symbol of the Balearic landscape.
In Mallorca there are 14 lighthouses and are:
Lighthouse Portopí in Palma, built in 1250.
Faro de la Riba, in the Port of Palma de Mallorca, opened in 1903.
Formentor Lighthouse, opened in 1863.
Lighthouse of Punta Advanced in Pollensa, opened in 1905.
Lighthouse in Santanyi Cala Figuera, opened in 1953.
Faro de la Cruz de Soller, opened in 1864.
Cap Salines Lighthouse in Santanyi, opened in 1863.
Faro Punta de Ses Crestes in Porto Colom, opened in 1863.
Lighthouse Alcanada in Alcudia, opened in 1861.
Cape Blanco Lighthouse on the Bay of Palma, opened in 1863.
Lighthouse in Gros Cap Crutch, Soller, opened in 1859.
Capdepera Lighthouse, opened in 1861.
Lighthouse in Calvia Cala Figuera, opened in 1860.
Sa Mola Lighthouse in Puerto de Andratx, opened in 1974, the last lighthouse built in Mallorca.