It’s hard to resist breaking out into a bit of pirate speak as you walk along the battlements of Ibiza’s old town. A few “Argghhs!’” and “Aye me hearties!” never go astray. The whole place has pirate stamped all over it and for good reason. Pirates and plunderers were frequent visitors to the island – so much so that an ingenious security system was adopted to protect inhabitants from maritime attacks.
During the 15th century, a series of watchtowers were constructed at strategic points along the coast. There are seven of the original ten towers still standing and many of them are definitely worth a visit. Set on the most prime real estate on the island, they afford some of the most spectacular views you will ever witness. After all, they were designed to see as far out to sea as possible.
If an attack were immanent in the daytime, the watchmen would light a fire using green wood so a thick plume of black smoke could be seen from far and wide. If the attack came at night, a huge fire was built; the flickering flames acting as a warning to local residents, giving them time to run to the closest fortified church where they would lock themselves inside – sometimes with their animals.
While architectural details may differ slightly, most of the towers were built to the same plan. A doorway was located on the second floor, requiring entry via a rope or leather ladder which could be pulled inside for further protection. One floor would have been for wood storage while the other as a place of rest for the watchmen. The rooftop terrace was where the fire was lit.
The most photographed tower is the one that overlooks Cala d’Hort with gobsmacking views of Es Vedra. A personal favourite of the Cas Gasi family is Sa Sal Rossa watchtower near the Ses Salines salt flats. At the time of building, salt was the island’s economic mainstay and a much-coveted product to pillage. It’s the only tower that was built to hold civilians and up to 200 people could cram in there if needed. Ask the Cas Gasi concierge for more information on how to visit the towers and start channelling your inner pirate.