Fuencaliente Lighthouse

La Palma, Canary Islands | C.1185

Photo Credit: Jorge Noguerales

Contrary to popular belief, the Canary Islands were not named after the bird, but got their name from the Latin, Canariae, meaning “dogs.” Located off the west coast of Africa, but officially part of Spain, these “isles of dogs” once had a reputation for the great quantities of large canines. Today they are known for their tourism and active volcanoes.

Like all the islands, La Palma was formed through millions of years of volcanic eruptions. The rich soil and temperate climate are perfect for crops like bananas and avocados, but this land is best known for its grapes – especially those used in winemaking. The town of Fuencaliente alone produces nearly two-million liters of wine every year.

Aside from the black sand beaches and abundant vino, La Palma offers visitors the chance to see a volcano up close and personal at Cumbre Vieja Natural Park. And just to the south, amid the arid landscape stands the Fuencaliente Lighthouse.

The first lighthouse was constructed here in the early 20th century with its signal fueled by an oil lamp. It wasn’t long before its proximity to the volcano damaged it. A sturdy successor was built with reinforced concrete after an earthquake caused a partial collapse.

Continual tremors over time caused even this reinforced structure to fall into disrepair. Once again, a new lighthouse was constructed right next door sporting iconic red and white stripes and an improved light that reaches 14 nautical miles. Today, visitors can still see the original light preserved as a tourist attraction called the Interpretation Center of La Reserva Marina, dedicated to addressing issues of sustainability and marine life. Old and new. Side by side, shining toward the sea.

Written By: Chris Gilson

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