History of Formentera

Formentera bookings and offers guide

Formentera bookings and offers guide

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History of Formentera

Talking about the history of Formentera is not an easy task, given that there are no written sources of a global history. And without being excessively broad, it is of great interest since in few other places we find testimonies of as many people as those who passed through the island.

The first known human presence on Formentera is found in the Bronze Age, when the megalithic tomb of Ca Na Costa, discovered in 1974, was built. This funerary monument, built between 1900 and 1600 BC, confirms the existence of a stable and organized at the beginning of the Bronze Age, about a thousand years before the Phoenicians settled in Ibiza. After a period in which it remained unpopulated, there are vestiges of the passage of the Punic and Roman cultures.

Ca Na Costa is the most spectacular megalithic tomb in the Balearic Islands. It has a large dolmen, composed of several pieces of stone placed in an amazing geometry. The radial arrangement of its elements led to it being popularly known as Es Rellotge, due to its resemblance to a sundial.
The tomb is located in the vicinity of Estany Pudent, a place of extraordinary beauty that is part of the Ses Salines maritime-terrestrial natural reserve; Without a doubt, a privileged place that the ancient settlers already discovered (it is very close to the road that leads to the center of Es Pujols, from Estany Pudent).

There are no references to whether the island was populated after the Visigoth invasions, but at least from the 11th century, during the Arab occupation, the island had a stable population. In 1014 Ibiza and Formentera joined the Denia Taifa. It was a time of maximum splendor, both economic and cultural, motivated by the peace maintained by the maritime hegemony of the Saracens, although acts of piracy did not completely cease. The Arabs were very active, and today there are still remains of houses, waterwheels, windmills, cisterns, irrigation canals and ceramics from that era.

The troops of Jaime I of Aragon, commanded by Archbishop Guillermo de Montgrí, conquered the Pitiüsas in 1235, which were incorporated into the Kingdom of Mallorca. Formentera was still inhabited by Saracens, according to the Llibre dels Feyts written by James I of Aragon himself (the name of the chronicle in Spanish would be the book of events).
This presence would last on the island until the 15th century, in which depopulation occurred. The hypothesis about the reasons for this depopulation were possibly due to years of poor harvests, hunger along with a great plague epidemic, and the danger that pirates posed to its inhabitants, who had made the island a kind of refuge and place. supply of food, water and wood. The fact that there are 4 defense towers in Formentera (one more in Espalmador) corroborates this.

From this period is the Romanesque chapel of “Sa Tanca Vella” built in 1336 and currently restored as a historical monument, located on the outskirts of Sant Francesc Xavier.

During the rest of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Formentera was only occasionally populated by inhabitants of the island of Ibiza.

It was in 1695 when the definitive repopulation of the island took place, carried out by people from Ibiza; after the donation of the island to the Ibizans Marc Ferrer and Toni Blanc, in payment for the services provided. The Ibizan captain Marc Ferrer was commissioned by the local authorities to buy wheat through the Mediterranean ports. But the Ibizans had a reputation for being poor payers and no one would trust them with anything if they did not pay it first, until in Valencia they were able to load up on wheat but, as it could not be otherwise, at the time of paying for the University that governed the island of Ibiza He had no money and wanted to pay with salt, but the Valencian merchants did not accept it and Marc Ferrer was imprisoned in the Torre dels Serrans, where he remained for a year and a half. He got out after mortgaging his assets and paying with his own money. Because of this and alleging misery in exchange for having done good to the community, Marc Ferrer asked King Carlos II to grant him a royal favor of some land in Formentera as compensation.
When the King agrees to this request, the Ibizan Marc Ferrer receives the first Royal grace of a square league. Later, another Royal favor was granted to him as well as another to Antoni Blanc (his son-in-law), and they began to make donations of land to Ibizans with the condition of working them.

Starting in 1720, the first descendants of Marc Ferrer and Antonio Blanc were born in Formentera, as well as the other Ibizans who settled on the island to begin its development and demographic evolution, thus creating the first Formentera ancestors. In 1727 there were 5 births, in 1728 there were 17 births and so on the population increased. In 1750 there were 80 houses with 400 inhabitants and by the year 1800 there were already 1000 inhabitants.
In 1726, the first church in Formentera was built, dedicated to San Francisco Javier, built as a fortress in which to take refuge from pirate attacks. Some defense and watchtowers on the coastline complemented the island’s defensive system and made the second repopulation definitive. As time went by, small population centers began to be created around the churches that were being built, although the majority of the population has always been dispersed in small country houses.

Between the years 1875 and 1947, 560 men emigrated to America, most of whom were initially sailors, which represented 25% of the island’s population, more than enough reason for the Ibizans to call Formentera “the island.” Women’s”. The majority of Formentera men emigrated with the intention of returning after a few years, with enough money to start a new life in Formentera. They embarked on regular line ships that linked various Spanish ports with American ones.

Starting in the 60s and 70s, an incipient tourism industry began to develop, characterized by an atmosphere of relaxation and tranquility. In parallel, at the end of the 60s the hippy movement began in Formentera, a fact that has deeply marked the personality of the island. These first tourists stimulate the construction of the first tourist establishments, of a family nature. Many of them are amazed by the island and decide to build their first or second residence, depending on the case. The population thus begins contact with the outside world and a sudden economic, cultural and social change occurs in a short space of time, which culminates with the tourist boom of the seventies and eighties, with strong development due to the demand for tours. -German operators, thus beginning the development of Formentera’s tourism industry, with Italian tourism accounting for most of the demand since the 1990s.

For a long time the people of Formentera have been fighting for the island to stop depending on the Island of Ibiza and for it to have its own Island Council like the other islands. In 2007, after the reform of the Statute of Autonomy of the Balearic Islands of 1983, Formentera obtained its own Island Council, separating itself from the Island Council of Ibiza and Formentera. Thus, as of 2007, there are two new administrations: the Island Council of Formentera and the Island Council of Ibiza.

Currently, the Formentera population continues to fight for the smaller island of the Balearic Islands to have the same rights as the other neighboring islands (the Denia-Formentera route, greater combinations of boats in the winter, etc…).

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