Don’t you know paradise?: Visit Formentera.

   Formentera is the smallest of the Balearic Islands, less than five thousand inhabitants and 82 squared kilometres. It is also the least developed touristically speaking. This makes the island attractive for all those who want to escape overcrowded destinations, looking for those secret places without having to cross the ocean. In the middle of the Mediterranean the island of Formentera rises up.

   This small island grouped together with Ibiza and a few other small islets make up the Pitiusans. Among the Balearic Islands, it occupies the southern most point in the Balearic archipelago. The Peix and Prudent lakes can be found on the western side of the island. The La Savina port that is the only important safe shipping harbour can be found between them both. It is the place where the visitors who come on the boat from Ibiza arrive.

   Formentera stands out for the purity of its waters and this is not just a cliché, its seas stand out for their great variety of shades of blue and green, catalogued as the best in the Mediterranean. It is separated from Ibiza by only 7 Km., known commonly as the ‘Es Freus’ (the strait) straits which is traditionally crossed by boat.

   Almost all the island is flat with the exception of the Barbaria and La Mola hills. The centre of the island is characterised by a big depression that ends in two large ponds L’Estany del Peix, L’Estany Pudent and some almost abandoned salt works. This allows the island orography to be favourable for cycle tourism and for long treks to be able to enjoy the coastline dotted with white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.

   The ground is made of limestone that has helped the creation of caves in its cliffs. For scuba divers they have become attractive corners as well as the rich maritime fauna of its waters. In fact, up until the advent of tourism, agriculture, the salt works and fishing were the only things to appear on the local job front. This activity is carried out using the installations at Salinas salt works, Saona cove, Es Caló, Es Pujols, Migjorn beach and the s'Algar torrent, where fresh fish can eaten every day. (We recommend Cap Roig (Red Head), lobster and parrot fish). The local island cuisine is very similar to neighbouring Ibiza’s, ‘sofrit pagès’ (varied stew), ‘arròs de matances’ (rice from the slaughter), la’ ensalada de peix sec’ (sun dried fish salad) are typical, as are the delicious desserts such as ‘greixonera’ or ‘flaó’.

   The municipality of Sant Francesc (Saint Francis) is the main town and is also the capital of the island of Formentera. It is to be found on the western side of the island. It grew up around the church fortress of San Francisco, built in 1726, alongside an old chapel. Other places of interest are Sant Ferran de Ses Roques, La Savina, Nostra Señora del Pilar and Es Pujols.

   The history of Formentera is based on the axes and the bronze disk found on the island, creating controversy over whether the Pitiusan islands were in fact inhabited or not before the Punic colonisation. When it comes to Punic or Roman remains, little has been conserved. Everything leads to the idea that Formentera was uninhabited in ancient times. (Estrabón, the Ophiusa denomination) Norman attacks on Formentera were recorded during the Moorish occupation, and Saracens lived there at the time of the Catalonian conquest which took place in 1235.

   Art lovers must not miss the chance to visit the megalithic funerary monument located in Ca na Costa, as well as the Sant Francesc Xavier church and the defense towers situated in Pi des Cátala, Punta Prima, La Gavina, L’Espalmador and la Torre des Cap.

   The handicrafts on the island are the making of woollen garments, diligent metal, ceramic and leather work which can be admired at the markets which are set up daily in Sant Francesc and Es Puyols in summertime.

   If you arrive one day in summertime, find out about the activities and if you can enjoy an authentic ‘ball pagès’ (rural country dance) in front of the Sant Francesc church or in any other square on the island.

   You must not miss out on it, the Ibiza and Formentera regional dances are admired by folklorists from all over the world because of their such peculiar characteristics which proudly maintain their inherited traditions. Popular dances are organised where the people dress up in traditional dress especially for the occasion.

   The women wear headscarves, shawls and aprons with a thousand flowers embroidered on them. Around their necks, on top of their outer shawls they wear their ‘emprendada’ jewellery that has been passed down from generation to generation, made up of priceless broaches and gold pendants. Music is never short and is played on local instruments: flutes, drums and some large castanets which are etched using fire. The ‘ball pagès’ (Country folk dance) starts with the music played on these instruments, this typical Pitusian dance also turns out to be the most interesting regional dance in the whole of the Balearic Islands.

   Interesting information: Extension: 77km2 Population: 5,435 inhabitants. Markets: In summertime, daily. Local holidays: Sant Jaume (Saint James), (25th July), Santa Maria (5th August) and Sant Francesc Xavier (3rd December).

Más información: Formentera on line

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