An interesting way to study Formentera history is to visit its four defence towers, built on strategic points of the island’s coastline during the eighteenth century. There is also a fifth tower on Espalmador.
Formentera has been an important location since the oriental shipping route, the Strait of Ses Portes, was used by ships that came from the East from 1000 BC to get metals from the Kingdom of Tartessos. This strategic location made the island a target for invasion, and it was deserted in the fourteenth century after people became so fed up with being attacked. In the next phase of Formentera history Barbary pirates made use of it as a place of rest for the next few centuries, and it wasn’t until there was a let up in piracy that the island repopulated in the eighteenth century, and the defence towers were built.
The Defence Towers
- Torre des Pides Catala
- Torre de Punta Prima
- Torre de la Gavina
- Torre des Garroveret
- Torre de S’Espalmador
The sixth defence tower might be said to be the Church in Saint Francesc, which at the time it was built could have housed the entire population. There were two cannons on the roof, and Formentera acted as an early warning system to Ibiza by lighting fires and sending smoke signals from the roof of the church.