How does a person from Bilbao end up in Maó?
Tomorrow, the Maritime Signals exhibition at the Portopí lighthouse will be opening its doors again, after cancelling all visits as a result of the measures taken by the Spanish Government when it declared the state of alarm. It has adapted its facilities to the health protocols to prevent COVID-19.
The visiting hours have been extended to six days a week, with the aim of encouraging local residents to find out more about the Balearic Island lighthouses and their secrets. Thus, the exhibition, located in the Port of Palma, will be open from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 3 pm and from 4 pm to 7 pm, while on Saturday the exhibition will be open from 10 am to 3 pm. Visits are by appointment and can be booked on the websites www.portsdebalears.com and www.farsdebalears.com.
The Port Authority of the Balearic Islands (APB) has adapted the Maritime Signals Exhibition facilities at the Portopí lighthouse to comply with the health protocols required to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In addition to the usual measures, the number of visitors will be reduced to 10 per session and the use of face masks will be compulsory throughout the entire visit.
The Port Pí Lighthouse was the second lighthouse in Spain to come into operation and the third in the world. According to the information compiled through maritime signalling research, it was first mentioned in the will of King James II in 1300. In the will, the king entrusted the care of the lighthouse to his heirs. In any event, this central building, located at the end of Palma's seafront promenade, is a symbol of not only the city, but also the maritime communications of the Balearic Islands.
A turning point in the history of the lighthouses and their keepers came in the 1980s, when technology intervened in the dynamics of this type of maritime signalling, changing their use and functioning. At that time, Rafael Soler Gayà was the director of the Port of Palma. He caringly and wisely took the initiative –with other lighthouse keepers– to rescue and preserve all the pieces that had been taken out of the coastal lighting service due to being obsolete: lens, rigging, photographs, records, maps, etc.
That is how the Porto Pí Exhibition came about, which the APB decided to open up to and share with the public in 2004. Since then, many groups and schools have enjoyed experiencing this cultural treasure, the history of maritime signalling, our own past and the peculiar lives of lighthouse keepers.
A complete and valuable collection
The APB has received national and international acknowledgement for its meticulous care of the lighthouses, the work put into recovering the history of lighthouses and their legacy, and for having one of the most complete collections of materials used in maritime signalling since the mid-nineteenth century. This valuable collection is once again open to the residents of Mallorca and to the visitors who want to immerse themselves in the passionate and enigmatic world of lighthouses.