Traditionally known as La Farola (lamp post), The St. Cristofol Lighthouse serves its mission to guide sailors. The first maritime signal was installed in Vilanova in 1834 but it was short and without enough light range to provide enough protection. In 1865 a first lighthouse with a continuous light was built, along with a home for the lighthouse keeper. Its continuous light lasted until 1905 when it was demolished and the current lighthouse was built in the same place. La Farola is still working and only stopped providing light to sailors during the Spanish Civil War.
The lighthouse tower is 21 meters in height (68ft) with a spiral staircase of 98 steps, and at its top has a dome where a reflecting floodlight is placed with 3 complex optics moved by a rotary clock machine. The lighthouse sends out a clear, unequivocal message with 3 bursts of white light flashes every 8 seconds and has a range of 19 nautical miles (35km/21mi).
The lighthouse keeper was the person who took care of the lighthouse, where he lived in with his family. Besides the accommodation, there was a workshop, an engine/mechanical room, a warehouse, a fuel deposit and a bureau, among others. It was an isolated hard work. It was not well-paid and regulated as strictly as the army.
The working hours started in the evening, before the sunset, and lasted the whole night to finish in the morning. The daily routine consisted in checking the rotary clock machine, the lamp and the fuel to switch the lighthouse on before it was dark. During the night the lighthouse keeper watched and wrote down every incident or fault as well as the atmospheric conditions and the different lights detected. In the morning the systems were cleaned and got ready for the next shift.
As the time went by and thanks to the technological improvements, the tasks changed. They no longer had to control the devices but they become a verification and maintenance technicians and where in charge to solve the incidents when the alarm sounded.
Nowadays all the lighthouses are connected to the Port Authority and the cell phones inform directly the technicians when there is an alarm. There is no need to live in the lighthouses anymore.
The ESPAI FAR is located in the outdoor area that encloses a museum complex which main goal is to preserve, spread and study our maritime culture and inheritance of local knowledge. It is also a tourist information point. This space includes two museums: the Museu del Mar (Maritime Museum) – placed at the former house of the lighthouse keeper- with the lifeboat called Victor Rojas as a main badge – and the Museu de Curiositats Marineres Roig Toqués (Museum of Maritime Artefacts) giving special emphasis to the famous Carpa Juanita, a common carp that was trained to drink from a Spanish pitched made of glass and to eat noodles from a spoon.