Ponta do Pargo Lighthouse
Portugal’s highest lighthouse has one of the most impressive focal planes in the world.
Perched at a dizzying viewpoint at the westernmost tip of the island of Madeira, this unassuming structure has prevented ships from striking the sheer cliffs and subsea perils of the remote Portuguese territory since 1922.
The lighthouse tower is just under 46 feet tall, making it a relative titch when compared to the world’s tallest lighthouse, the 436-foot Jeddah Light in Saudi Arabia. This said, the height of its focal plane—the actual “light” itself—is a full 1,040 feet above the sea, one of the highest in the world.
Its impressive focal plane is a result of the lighthouse’s perch atop a precipitous clifftop almost 1,000 feet above the pounding Atlantic. For this reason, the plucky underdog is visible a striking 26 nautical miles away, compared to a mere 25 nautical miles for the powerful Jeddah Light.
Since 2001, the operational lighthouse has been publicly accessible as it houses the Madeiran Lighthouse Museum, a small but worthy display of curiosities and images detailing the history of lighthouse keeping in this isolated temperate archipelago.
Know Before You Go
The lighthouse can be reached on the Bus Line 142. By car, follow signs for Miradouro (Viewpoint) and Farol (Lighthouse) from the ER101 road as it passes through Ponta do Pargo. You can't miss the lighthouse. If you do, you'll fall off a big cliff. The viewpoint is permanently accessible, but the free-to-enter museum only opens on week days between 09:30 and 4:30, closing for lunch between 12:30 and 2:00.
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