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Recife Lighthouse

Located at the mouths of the Capibaribe and Beberibe rivers and inaugurated on 1 February 1822.

Recife Lighthouse

Article available in: PT-BR

Last update: 04/01/2017

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - N/I

In 1590 in Recife, the Portuguese built a fort on the reefs with the purpose of defending the port’s access bar, and called it Castelo do Mar [Castle of the Sea] or Fort Laje do Picão.

During the Dutch occupation in Pernambuco (1630–1654), the Flemish used the Castle of the Sea Fort as a signal station for their vessels. In the years after the Dutch expulsion, the Fort continued to emit signals and function as a powerful weapon for all sailors.

In 1817, the Castle of the Sea was in ruins. It was then that Dom João VI decided to recover it by installing a lighthouse in its place to guarantee free and safe access to the Port of Recife.

Located at the mouths of the Capibaribe and Beberibe rivers and inaugurated on 1 February 1822, the Castle of the Sea or Picão Lighthouse, similar to a small fort, was entirely built in bricks. Together with the Bathhouse, this lighthouse drew the attention of everyone coming to the Port of Recife.

A little over a century later, the lantern was judged to be quite outdated and was dismantled on 30 September 1931, and reactivated with an AGA 500mm automatic lantern in 1932. It was transferred six years later to a tower located in the Captaincy of the Ports of the State of Pernambuco building. Here it remained for seven years.

In September 1945, the old tower of the Castle of the Sea or Picão Lighthouse served as the stage for the ceremony to re-inaugurate that centennial luminous signal.

It is worth noting that today only ruins remain of the old lighthouse. The current lighthouse is called Recife Lighthouse or Farol da Barra, and has a modern acrylic lamp and maintains the same principle light refraction as other lenticular devices of the past.

The Recife Lighthouse or Farol da Barra appears on the shields of Recife and Pernambuco, along with the design of two other weapons that were considered of great importance for the city’s defence: the fort and the bar. At the bottom of the coats of arms is the reef line with a tower and the lighthouse on the point. All of them are being washed by ocean waves.

The Recife Lighthouse resembles a fortress with battlements and is whitewashed, stands 18 metres high and sits on a square base. It is a monument that is intrinsically connected to the panorama of the Recife’s port.

Recife, 22 March 2004.
(Updated on 25 March 2008).
Translated by Peter Leamy, November 2016.




sources consulted

CAVALCANTI, Carlos Bezerra. O Recife e seus bairros. Recife: Câmara Municipal do Recife, 1998.

FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife. Recife: Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1977.

SETTE, Mário. A Casa de Banhos. Boletim do Porto do Recife, Recife, n. 1, jul. 1940.

SIQUEIRA, Ricardo. Luzes do novo mundo: história dos faróis brasileiros. Rio de Janeiro: O Autor, 2002.



how to quote this text

Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Farol do Recife. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: dia  mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.