By 1860, there were almost no lighthouses. As a consequence, shipwrecks were usual because sailors would cope with absolutely desert and rocky areas where their boats were damaged. The only way to identify these sites was by naming them according to the natural features observed from the water: Punta Ballena (Whale Point), Punta del Este (Eastern Point), La Paloma (The Pigeon).
In 1868, a small boat named Lise Amelia coming from Scotland to these lands and carrying hundreds of immigrants shipwrecked on these shores. All the souls on board were drowned in this terrible accident. The news about this event reached the entire world. So did the sympathy showed by the Uruguayan people, whose authorities passed a decree providing for the construction of a lighthouse at Cabo Santa María (Saint Mary’s Cape).
In 1870, after a call for bidding, the company Faros del Río de la Plata & Cia. was hired to fulfill the dream of illuminating the sea as fast as it was possible. The lighthouse was almost finished and suddenly, before anyone could even think about it, the structure collapsed and caused another tragedy, but this time on solid ground.
Anyway, the initiative continued and the second lighthouse was inaugurated in September 1st, 1874. In the same period, La Paloma swimming resort was created and, accordingly, more and more visitors reached this place. Everybody wished to see the famous lighthouse which had caused so much suffering to the country and to the world.
In 1976, this beautiful lighthouse was declared National Historic Monument. Today, this site represents a must visit. After going up almost 150 steps, visitors may enjoy a spectacular and impressive view of the sea. The target was finally achieved.