La Mola Lighthouse – Illes Balears, Spain
We are at the eastern edge of Formentera, the most southern of the Balearic Islands.
The “Far de la Mola”, also known as Far de Formentera) was drafted by the architect and engineer Emili Pou y Bonet. It was inaugurated in November 1861, at the time of Isabel II, and until 1973 it was not electrified and it used to work with wicks and oil vapor.
The lighthouse is 21 meters tall and stands fiercely upon a 258-meter high cliff, the highest point of the island. According to some locals, it is much more than a naval utility building for the island, It has been an icon for centuries, and coming to Formentera and not visiting the lighthouse would be like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower. And in fact, It is one of the most beautiful spots of the tiny island, that offers a breathtaking view over an endless sea and, in addition, the building has an interesting literary history.
In his novel, Hector Servadac, Jules Verne described the place, that never saw, as the ’lighthouse at the end of the world’ (Le phare du bout du monde).
In it, the astronomer Palmin Rosete was busy taking a measure of the earth’s surface just when a comet crashed into the earth and swept away part of the Mediterranean including Formentera, its lighthouse and the unfortunate scientist (who however survived).
Jules Verne based his literary character upon Francois Arago, an adventurous astronomer, who stayed briefly at the lighthouse in 1808 in order to measure the meridian arc (by definition the forty-millionth part of a quarter of the meridian is better known as “the meter”).
There is a small plaque in memory of Jules Verne and his novel at the side of the lighthouse that recalls the writer as “brilliant novelist and prophet of science” since 1978, on the 150th anniversary of his birth.
Here they have lived up to three different families of “fareros”, lighthouse’s keepers. Javier Pérez de Arévalo was the last who has lived in the building.
Since 2019, the Mola Lighthouse is also an interpretation center, museum and exhibition room, and the Consell de Formentera allows a visit to its interior allowing curious to learn about its history through videos, panels and objects related to the lighthouse itself.
Author’s notes: Formentera can reached from Ibiza by boat. After arrival at the sole port of the island, one can rent a scooter or a bike to reach the lighthouse. A beautiful but steep road takes you along beaches and a pine forest until the lighthouse.
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