Formentera is the smallest and more southerly island of the Pityusic Islands group (comprising Ibiza and Formentera, as well as various small islets), which belongs to the Balearic Islands autonomous community (Spain). Until not too long ago hardly anybody knew anything of the prehistory in Formentera. Nevertheless, in the year 1974 the biggest archaeological discovery was made on the island, until that date, which put a starting point to its origin. This was the megalithic tomb of Ca Na Costa. Although this tomb is not the only one, it is the most spectacular and well known on the island.



It dates back to between the years 1900 to 1600 B.C., in the middle of the Bronze Age and possibly indicates that there was an autochthonous population living there in those ancient times. The tomb has a huge and heavy dolmen, with stones placed in a perfect geometry possibly used to measure astronomical phenomena like the equinoxes, lunar phases, etc. In the style of other megalithic monuments. This building is located in the town of Es Pujols and can be visited.



In the year 654 BC the Carthaginian Phoenicians founded a colony on Ibiza, which would become one of the most important in the western Mediterranean. Surprisingly, there is no evidence of Phoenician settlement on Formentera. The Greeks, who followed, gave the islands of Ibiza and Formentera their collective name - the ‘Pitiuses' ('pine tree islands'). In a period around 200 BC the Romans arrived and built a fortress near to Es Caló; the foundation walls can still be seen today. During Roman times, a quite large population lived in Formentera; numerous findings are the evidence. They used the island mainly for growing wheat and named it Frumentaria (the wheat island in Latin) - from which the today's name Formentera derives.



Following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, first Vandals, then Byzantines conquered the island. In 711 the Moors arrived on Ibiza and Formentera, but it took the Arabs until the beginning of the 10th century to confirm their dominion. As in the rest of the Balearic Islands, Formentera took advantage of the advances in agriculture and construction brought by the Arabs. There are numerous waterwheels, cisterns, irrigation canals, salinas ... along the length and width of the island. Especially the techniques to make the precious salt would give a lot of economic life, a seasoning very valuable in those times. The Muslims called the island Koluyunka, sheep island, so we assume that it was one of the economic activities that also occurred in an important way.



In 1235 AD the Catalan King Jaume I. conquered the island and incorporated it into the Crown of Aragon. 1256 Jaume II exclaimed the Kingdom of Mallorca, but after less then 100 years it fell back to the Kingdom of Aragon. In 1469, the marriage of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon laid the foundation for the unification of Spain.

On the 12th of October 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered America. Due to this discovery and the trade with the new colonies the trade in the Mediterranean became less important and the crown lost its interest in the Balearic Islands. Formentera fell into oblivion for many years and due to a number of bad harvests, the island was more or less abandoned to pirates.



However, in the late 17th century people once again began to settle on Formentera. Until the second half of the 19th century the population of the island survived on agriculture, fishing and, of course, salt. Due to the hardship experienced and the limited ability to feed themselves many of the growing population emigrated, mostly to Central and South America. During the Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939) Formentera suffered from heavy fights against the nationalistic troops of Franco, which in the end won with the help of reinforcement from Mussolini. 18 left-wing Formentencs were shot and at least five died in Nazi concentration camps. From 1939 till 1942 there was a concentration camp on Formentera for political dissidents from mainland Spain awaiting execution. After the war, the island returned to its tough, day to day existence before tourism started to bring its rewards. So, as you can see, there is indeed a long and very chequered history for such a small island which today dedicates itself to holidaymakers seeking peace, beauty and tranquility...as well as being a well-known paradise for artists, musicians and writers alike.


If you want to spend your summer holidays in Formentera, come and discover our exclusive villas and all the services dedicated to our guests.



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