Torrox. / SUR

Lighting the shores of the Costa del Sol

Between Torrox and Estepona in Malaga province there are half a dozen lighthouses which have played a vital role for navigation off this stretch of the coast since the 19th century


Along the coast of Malaga province between Torrox, in the Axarquía, and Estepona on the western Costa del Sol, there are half a dozen lighthouses, most of which have been playing a vital role since the 19th century for ships navigating this stretch of the Mediterranean Sea close to the Strait of Gibraltar.

The oldest and most famous of these lighthouses is in Malaga city and, unusually, it is referred to as La Farola, which is the feminine form of the noun in Spanish, instead of El Faro.

There are others in Estepona, Torre del Mar, Torrox and Mijas, too. These six are nearly one-third of the 21 which still stand on the Andalusian coastline and the ones which date back to the 1860s were all designed by the engineer Antonio Molina.

La Farola, in Malaga city, is one of the few working lighthouses on the Costa del Sol that are over 200 years old

The lighthouse in Torrox

Inaugurated in 1864, this is one of the oldest in Malaga province. It stands nearly 40 metres above sea level (about 24 metres above the ground) and nowadays it is one of the most emblematic features on the coast of La Axarquía. This is not just because of the way it was built, but also because important Roman remains of the city of Clavicum lie at its feet.

Torre del Mar's lighthouses

The newest lighthouse in Malaga province can be found in Vélez-Málaga. It was built in 1976 and is on the seafront promenade at Torre del Mar. Its design and height are similar to the one in Marbella.

At 26 metres, it is a similar height to the lighthouse in Torrox, and is situated alongside one of its predecessors. Nor is that the only primitive lighthouse to have been constructed in Torre del Mar, because since 1864 there has been a similar one. However, that one, although not far away, is now hidden among apartment blocks, so it is no longer in use.

'La Farola' in Malaga

This lighthouse is known all over Spain because it is called La Farola and not El Faro and is the only one on the peninsula with such a name. There is only one other on the Canary Island of Tenerife, La Farola del Mar.

Another important detail of the Malaga lighthouse is its age: it is one of the few that are over 200 years old. La Farola was inaugurated in 1817, making it one of the oldest in Spain. Its size is no less impressive. Not only does it have a truncated cone-shaped tower, but it is an impressive 33 metres tall.

El Faro de Calaburras (Mijas)

On the Calaburras point, where the municipalities of Fuengirola and Mijas meet, stands another of the Costa's lighthouses. This one originated in 1863 although the present construction is from 1928. It was built as a replacement because the older lighthouse was practically in ruins.

Nowadays it is of great strategic importance for the ships travelling from the Mediterranean towards the Campo de Gibraltar, and it stands 25 metres high.

Just a few metres away is an old watchtower of the same name, which highlights the importance of this location throughout history. The lighthouse is situated on top of a small hill with extensive views of the coast.

The Marbella lighthouse

In a similar way to the situation in Torre del Mar, urban development meant the lighthouse in Marbella had to be moved and in 1974 the present one was built beside the marina. The previous one was only 11 metres high and was further from the sea. It was built just over a century earlier, in 1864.

El Faro de Punta Doncella (Estepona)

Due to its proximity to the Strait of Gibraltar it is not surprising that the first lighthouse on this spot was built in 1861. However, it was much smaller than others constructed around the same time. The present one is much taller, at 20 metres, and it works in conjunction with the lighthouse at Carboneras in Cadiz province to light the way from the Mediterranean to the Strait of Gibraltar. Unlike the other lighthouses on the Costa del Sol, it is unusual because of its design, its octagonal shape and carved stone.