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Inside Ibiza's old watchtowers

Defence, communication, and refuge

The interior of one of Ibiza's old watchtowers can now be visited by the public.

The whole coastline of Ibiza is strategically dotted with centuries old watchtowers which were built to protect the island from raiding pirates; Turks and Berbers who carried the natives off into slavery.

So in the 16th century, the powers that were decided to build a chain of watchtowers to serve 3 basic purposes; defence, communication, and refuge, and used the finest military architects of the day to design and build them. The coastal towers were armed with cannons and other forms of weapons which provided good artillery cover to strategic areas like the entrances to the ports of Ibiza and San Antonio.

Placed for their commanding views of the sea lanes, they could also be seen from many miles away and so provided an ideal method of communication and warning from tower to tower. In daylight hours, pirate raids were signalled using smoke, and fire by night. Finally, because of their size, strength and design – they were all built cylindrically, eliminating weak corners from the structure – they could provide shelter to many people.

Since last Easter the Sal Rossa tower has been open for public viewing from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 14:00. Built of stone and mortar in the late 1500's its main function was to protect the channel between Formentera and Ibiza Town with cannon fire and to provide refuge to the workers of the nearby salt pans, perhaps the economic mainstay of the island at that time.

It's reckoned that around 150 to 200 people could fit into the tower, though they were only little in those days, but if you'd like to go along with 199 of your mates to test it out, do give San Jose council a ring first on 971 801 598 to make a group booking!

It's really easy to find, perched on a hill at the end of Playa d'en Bossa beach with fabulous views all down the sands to Ibiza Town in the distance – well worth the walk just for the views.

Click here to read another fabulous watchtower article

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