A EUROPEAN Union rule that requires English to be the official language between pilots and air-traffic controllers has come into force – and, curiously, even applies where both parties share a native tongue that is...
Formentera - stepping stone of the gods
The craft arrives at Sa Savina harbour. Time seems to slow down, there is so much space, such clear light, there’s a different feeling in the air. A new world waiting to be discovered.
As soon as we arrive on Formentera the tower and its great walls come out to meet us. The abandoned defenses of Ses Salinas salt flats, once a source of the island’s wealth.
The geography and size of the island make it ideal for cycling, taking in the multitude of scents, sights and sounds on offer.
For our first trip we take the road to Ses Salines to discover Formentera’s real treasures, its gorgeous beaches bathed by turquoise waters - Ses Illetes - and further along Es Trucadors, where the island narrows to a point and the beach forms a sandy corridor flanked by water. We choose our favourite beach of the two or just follow the sun from one side to the other.
But the real charm of this beach only reveals itself when the sea is calm. When the sun is at its highest and the sea relaxes, basking in its rays, a hidden path appears out of the sea, leading from Formetera to the small neighbouring island of L’Espalmador. It appears as if by magic under an ancient spell.
From L’Espalmador we can take a closer look at the unexpected sight of the lighthouse on the tiny island of Des Porcsy and the path to the island of the goddess Tanit in the distance.
Back at Sa Savina we can cycle round S’Estany Pudent (a lake being restored as a nesting place for flamingoes) and stop for a moment at Ca Na Costa, a megalithic site dating from sometime between 1800 and 1700 BC.
One wouldn’t think that such a small island had been home to more than a handful of different cultures, but it has in fact been a stopping off point for a whole host of seafaring civilisations.
At the site, various artefacts, including buttons, mortar bombs and bracelets, have been discovered and have helped trace the history of the area.
As we continue round the lake, and before returning back to the harbour, we come across a smaller haven, windsurf sails and small boats busy in its blue waters.
Named S’Estany des Peixes (‘fish pond’) because of the great quantities of fish that used to swim in it, this charming shallow lake has a small outlet to the sea and is the perfect spot to rest and recharge our batteries.
But only for a while, for the rest of this island’s treasures beckon.
A pleasant way to round off our day is to take a walk out to the Punta de Sa Pedrera and wait for the light to start to fade and the colours to change as night draws in, a breathtaking show with the Es Vedrà island and the distant horizon taking cente stage.
A trip to Formentera is not complete without a visit to Sant Francesc, the tiny capital of this tiny island.
The main square has a special charm, with its pretty buildings and restful airs.
The feature that makes this place so very special is not far away: the magnificent church, standing out above everything else, not because it is flamboyant and overelaborate, but precisely because it is not.
The most striking characteristic of the church on Formentera is its austerity and refined lines. It looks more like a castle about to open fire on its enemies.
The church was built in the 18th century, fortified and armed with canons. Its design is totally original - nowadays we would call it minimalist.
But is was not designed as a fashion statement, rather in response to the island’s turbulent history – For many years the island was uninhabited because of the scarce agricultural resources, disease and in particular the attacks by pirates from North Africa.
Formentera was a tiny pawn in a game of strategy, with the winner taking control of the Mediterraean.
In 1697 a resettlement charter was granted to Marc Ferrer, bringing with it the building of defence towers along the coast, some of them with artillery stores, and the ch
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