Lighthouses of Zumaia

Lighthouses of Zumaia

Lighthouse of Zumaia

43°18.2?N 2°15.1?W? / ?43.3033°N

(Ref.: Paloma Roda Lamfus (1998), Faros de Guipúzcoa, Ed.: Port Authority of Pasajes)

“In the mid 19th century, Zumaia was famous for its port, upon which a commercial network of products was based, related not only to the iron and steel industry of the region of Urola, but also to the local cement production industry. The use of cement from Zumaia is mentioned specifically in reports drawn up on the projects for constructing lighthouses in Guipúzcoa.

During its meeting held on July 8 1864, the Lighthouses Commission approved a proposal to modify the site of the lighthouse of Zumaia, at the promontory of la Atalaya, based on the report included in the file. The study analysed the conditions of the area where the lighthouse was first planned to be built: terrain with vertical strata formed by sandstone and layers of soft clay which made it advisable to change the location due to the poor restistance of the terrain to the effects of the sea.

The lighthouse was not eventually built on the hill of San Telmo, but on what was called Atalaya baja, with the idea of it functioning as a guiding light for approaching the port, on the same site where the watchtower had formerly stood, to guide the boats into port. The experts taking part in constructing the lighthouse left a record in their reports of their concern for constructing and maintaining a resistant structure given the features of the terrain: “and after laying certain materials around the lighthouse to stop the rain and damp from penetrating the clay layers that end on that esplanade”.

On December 12 1864, Inociencio de Elorza, Assistant employed by the Office of Guipúzcoa, presented the project for executing the works of the first lighthouse, of the 5th type, with an estimate of 112,803 silver coins.

In 1871, Francisco Lafarga declared the need to cover the external slope of the promontory of la Atalaya with hydraulic masonry to strengthen the wall in the rock. One year later, the same engineer submitted a project for a service road to the lighthouse, so that, by bordering the estuary, it could also serve as a dock, establishing a coastal area for public use along the western bank, for use by the citizens of the town.

Following the Carlist wars, the lighthouse suffered important damage and was taken out of service until 1881. The engineer Lafarga, who had already built several lighthouses along the coast of Guipuzcoa, executed the construction work on the new lighthouse, giving it its austere air.

Near Inpernupe beach, in an area that can be termed as protected (especially when comparing it to the site of the adjacent lighthouse of Getaria 41 m above sea level), is the lighthouse of Zumaia surrounded by leafy vegetation, that includes apple trees, tamarinds and some vines..

It is made of white masonry, and is rectangular in shape with an adjoining tower in stone, with an octagonal shape, lamp and dome. Its construction is simple, with regular outlines. We should mention the system on which it rests, formed by a trapezoidal base of sandstone reinforced by ashlar stone, gving that part of the building a certain defensive air, more usually found in military architecture. The double stairway forming the entrance to the house has a deep stone arch in the centre, whose slightly crooked keystone reveals the fragile nature of the sand and clay terrain on which it is built.

As with the lighthouses of Higuer, Pasajes, Getaria and San Sebastián, access to the inside of the tower is gained through the stairway made of wrought iron from Lasarte.

The most important feature of the façade is its colour, used to finish the eaves and vanes, in an intense blue shade, that is normally used to paint the boats in this area, and which is also used for the house of the artist Zuloaga, Santiago-Etxea, in its wooden latticework.

The tower has a series of long, narrow windows in the shape of an ogival arch, which reminds one of embrasures, of the type used in Mediaeval architecture, which was so in vogue at that time.

The lighthouse has an automatic weather stationa; it gathers data on the humidity, temperature, rainfall, direction and speed of the wind. The tower has an anemometer and weather vane for measuring the speed and direction of the wind. Its characteristic is that of light in groups of 2 to 1 occultations, with a range of about 12 miles”.

Udalarrantz - Red de municipios pesqueros del País Vasco