Ibiza Heritage: Ses Salines salt flats

Some time in the 8th century BC, the Phoenicians set up base in Ibiza and began to develop the salt flats at Las Salinas in the south of the island. After the Phoenicians came the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Vandals, the Byzantines and numerous hoards of pirates, marauders and chancers. Salt production fluctuated with the constant tide of invaders until the Moors arrived and put everything back into order in 902 AD. Not for long however, the Re-conquistadors came to town and took over, modernising salt production and making it one of the main sources of income for Ibiza.

Working conditions were brutal on the salt flats. Men from all over the island would come for the harvest, which occurs in the height of the summer heat of July and August. Enormous baskets filled to the brim with salt would be hauled on the head of each man has he steadfastly walked the several miles to get to the ship loading point where the salt would be poured directly into waiting boats. The boats came from all over Europe and salt was considered an important commodity and at times used as currency.

In the Middle Ages the visiting ships coming for salt served another purpose. With no access to medication, many ill Ibicencos would travel to the dock to negotiate a deal in the hopes that whatever ailed them would be cured by whichever medicine the boats had available. You can only imagine the consequences.

Salt production waxed and waned over the years but has enjoyed quite the resurgence recently with the beautifully packaged Sal de Ibiza brand reviving the industry. Their products make for excellent souvenirs and gifts while the quality of the salt is to rival other well-established brands.

The salt flats were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site in 1999 and officially became a nature reserve in 2001. The flats are home to numerous birds including flamingos, several types of falcon, waders, waterfowl, herons, egrets and osprey. There are frequent visits from various raptors too, including the marsh harrier, peregrine falcon and the kestrel all of which nest in the area.

It’s a lovely area to explore with a deep history and picturesque views, and one that Cas Gasi owners Margaret and Luis love to walk and explore themselves.