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Formentera, a story of pirates and hippies.

18 Oct 2017
Formotor

Once upon a time…

Thousands of years ago the first humans in the Bronze Age inhabited the island. There are samples of Phoenician, Roman, Arab pirate and even Viking ancestors.

Formentera has been an island besieged by Pirates.

asalto-cova-des-fum-pic-by-vicenteOne of the most famous stories is the one about the Viking prince Sigurd who in 1108 decided to face the pirates who terrorized the area of the east. These hid in a cave open to a cliff where they kept their treasures, the result of years of plunder.

King Sigurd decided to attack them from his ship, lifted with ropes from the sea to the entrance of the cave, burning the cave for the pirates to run and face the ship. Finally, they surrendered and the prince finished with the pirates putting an end to their terrible sieges, and since then it has been known as the “Cova d’es Fum” (cave of smoke).

They say that part of the loot, one of the most important of the time, is still buried in the bottom of the sea since the Vikings were unable to take it with them.

Returning to history, Formentera began to settle in 1695, after King Carlos II donated it to the ibizan Marc Ferrer and Toni Blanc. Captain Ferrer was graced with these lands because he was entrusted with the mission of buying wheat in the ports of the Mediterranean.

The government of Ibiza, having no money, wanted to pay the Valencians with salt who refused to this exchange and Ferrer ended up imprisoned and mortgaging his assets to get out of jail. In 1720 the first descendants of Ferrer and Blanc and of the government of Ibiza, having no money, wanted to pay the Valencians with salt who refused to this exchange and Ferrer ended up imprisoned and mortgaging his assets to get out of jail. In 1720 the first descendants of Ferrer and Blanc and of the ‘ibicencos’ that lived there were born: the first Formentera ancestors.

Until the XIX century, the island was inhabited by around 2000 people that lived on agriculture and fishing, but everything changes with the arrival of tourism.

From the 60’s, the island began to receive tourists looking for calm, coinciding with the beginning of the Hippy movement. The island became a haven for wealthy Americans who were hiding from the Vietnam War. Their “Make Love, Not War” philosophy pierced barriers and attracted such well-known artists as Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd, who felt inspired by the island.

With the arrival of European tourists, especially Italian, an economic change begins and Formentera grew to the current 12,000 inhabitants, although in the summer it can reach up to 50,000.

Photo by Josep Soler

2 Responses

  1. William Black

    I can remember as a child how we noticed the hippies in 1959 or 1960. We lived in Germany and visited Formentera often. We camped in Pujols, the parents stayed in a hotel. The hippies were broke, they used to ask us children for food. Eventually they started to steal from the Spaniards. That ended in I think 1961 when one of the two Guardia Civil officers stationed in San Francisco showed up in Pujols. He brought with him a group of black clad Spanish women. They arrested all the hippies in Pujols, the women cut their hair, somehow they were made to take a shower and then told, by the single policeman carrying his machine pistol, to leave and never return.

  2. Bob

    Hi, I lived in a cave in El Pilar?

    Back in the early days. I have never beed back but I would like to revisit one day.

    Would you drop me a line?

    Regards, Bob

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