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Les Sentinelles des Mers

Par Guy Detienne


Farol da Ponta da Ribeirinha, the end of a lighthouse.
Version française :

The Azores archipelago is made up of 9 volcanic islands. Faial Island is one of them. It is the last to have suffered the effects of these geological phenomena.

In the past century, the earth shook strongly and a volcano began. These two events destroyed two of its lighthouses, the Ponta dos Capelinhos lighthouse and the Ponta da Ribeirinha lighthouse.

The Ponta da Ribeirinha lighthouse was built in May 1915 on the tip of the same name. It was commissioned on November 1, 1919.

The first damage occurred on November 23, 1973. An earthquake caused extensive damage.
Work is being done quickly to repair cracks in the walls of the tower and house.

The worst happened on July 9, 1998 at 7:19 am during the earthquake of magnitude 5.8 on the Richter scale.

The epicenter is located at sea 5 km from the coast, opposite the lighthouse. It destroys the lighthouse and it razes the surrounding villages.

The damage is considerable. The walls of the tower and buildings are cracked and the tower has moved from 20 cm to mid-height. The lighthouse is inoperable and disabled..

A few days later, the lantern and optics were removed.

A few months later, in 1999, the demolition of the complex was decided. A pole surmounted by an optical device took over. It’s the new lighthouse.

The lighthouse will not be demolished because a project was launched in 2001.

Before the earthquake.



The picture opposite is a Fresnel lens of 2 order and 700 mm of focal length.



It is identical to the one in the Ribeirinha lighthouse.






Photo take during the construction of the lighthouse.

Photo take before the earthquake.

After the earthquake and photos of June 2019.










The future of the site, the project.


In 2001, the association "The Society of Friends of the Lighthouse" presented a petition to preserve this heritage. It proposes to reconstruct the lighthouse and create a space to display the lantern and optics.

Another association "Friends of Ribeirinha" was created in 2007.
In 2009, the lighthouse was secured and debris around the lighthouse was removed.


On May 19, 2017, the reconstruction project was established. It is about consolidating the walls and the tower by installing a staircase. This tower could receive the "temporary" lamp.

Then a museum will be developed near the old buildings.
It will consist of four themes: the importance of the port of Horta, the history of the earthquakes, the earthquake of 1998 and a room dedicated to lighthouses.

Regarding the Fresnel lens, I got some information. It was disassembled and then transferred to the Museum of the Portuguese Navy. It was repaired and then exposed.