We are next to the beach on the west side of Dili, the capital city of East Timor.
The nation of Timor-Leste, generally known in English as East Timor, is the former Portuguese colony on Timor, the southeasternmost major island of the Indonesian archipelago. Colonized in the 16th century, it was a remnant of the once-extensive Portuguese holdings in the Indies. Indonesian troops seized the country when Portugal withdrew in 1975, and this led to a long struggle for independence, which was finally achieved in 2002.
Timor-Leste has a population of more than 1.3 million. Dili, located on the north coast, is the capital and the only major port.
The Dili Harbor Lighthouse (Farol do Porto de Díli in Portuguese) was erected to replace an earlier structure, which was only 7 m high, that emitted a light that was blending with other lights of the city, and was almost falling into ruin. Portuguese remains an official language in Timor-Leste in addition to the indigenous language, Tetum. The Portuguese word for a lighthouse is farol, plural faróis, while a small lightbeacon is often called a farolim.
Its date of construction is not known, but there is evidence of studies during the tenure of José Manuel Pereira de Almeida as Governor of Portuguese Timor (1863–1864) for the construction of a lighthouse 3.75 m high, depicting a structure with a stone base, quadrangular mechanism, and an upper terrace with a cylindrical structure supporting the lamp.
Construction of the present lighthouse began in 1889, during the governorship of Rafael Jácome Lopes de Andrade (1888–1890) and maps published in 1892 and 1893 document both lighthouses simultaneously.
The present lighthouse was completed in 1896, and has twice been reconstructed and improved: in 1932, and between 1948 and 1949 after the Japanese occupation of Portuguese Timor.
In 1949, a nearby house, which had been built before the Japanese occupation on the other side of what is now the Avenida de Motael, was adapted to become the residence of the lighthouse keeper while, in the early 1950s, the adjacent area, informally named “Bairro do Farol”, was developed in accordance with the 1951 General Urban Plan of Díli, as a residential area for high level colonial public servants and Europeans.
The current lighthouse consists of a 17 m octagonal metal skeletal tower rising from a massive masonry base, with a lantern and gallery at its peak. Access to the lantern is by an exposed stairway spiralling around a central column.