The Tower of Hercules in Spain, was built by the Romans around 2,000 years ago. It is the only lighthouse from that period which is still in operation. It is thought that the structure was modelled on the Pharos lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009, and needs constant work in order to protect it from the strong Atlantic winds. The most recent works began in 2007 and have only just been completed.
Ana Goy Diz, the director of the restoration project, explained: “Lighthouses in the Mediterranean were located at the entrance of ports. They were constructed at sea level. In the Atlantic they had a different function, which was to signal the dangers of the area. They were located so as to show ships how to stay away from the coastline and avoid dangerous rocks and cliffs. That is why they were built on top of high cliffs. The Tower of Hercules was built 57 metres above sea level. That, added to the 47 metres of the lighthouse itself, means that the light is over 100 metres above sea level.”
The exceptionally strong Roman engineering and construction of the lighthouse means that despite its location, it has never been in danger of falling down. The restoration cost two million euros.
Juan Manuel Doce Porto, the architect on the restoration project, said: “The thorough restoration that was carried out in 1992-1993 was a key factor in maintaining the lighthouse in the relatively good condition it was in in 2007, given the age of the monument and the area in which it is situated, which one of great environmental stress as well as very aggressive weather conditions.”
Today the Tower of Hercules is completely automated and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area.