Colònia de Sant Jordi
Salt has been an important part of the economy around Colònia de Sant Jordi for nearly 2,500 years and the salt flats were first mined by Carthaginian merchants in the 4th Century B.C., making them the second oldest salt flats in the world. There are remains from this period on the tiny island of Na Guardis, just outside Colònia de Sant Jordi's harbour, including two quays, warehouses and a forge.
The Balearics were used by the Carthaginians as a base during the Punic Wars and men from the islands fought against the Romans, gaining a fearsome reputation for their skill with slingshots. The Romans captured Mallorca in 123 B.C. and remains of ships from this era have been found near the coast, proving that the harbour remained in use.
Salt production was continued by the Byzantines, the Moors and the Christians and it is still extracted every autumn using traditional methods; one of the few places in the world to do so. Seawater is let into a series of large square pools, covering a total area of around 335 acres (or 130 hectares) every spring. The water is allowed to evaporate over the summer and by the autumn it is time to dig off the thick salty crust and pile them in blinding white heaps. After cleaning and packing, the salt is ready for export.
Colònia Sant Jordi's natural harbour has been used ever since the Romans left and yachts and fishing ships are now anchored side by side. One of the island's best beaches, Es Trenc, is to the west of the village. It is two mile long strip of sand backed up by sand dunes. You will also see the salt flats that have been worked around 6,000 years. The only buildings on the beach are bunkers built to stop troops landing during the Spanish Civil War.
Sant Joan de la Font Santa
The Baths of Sant Joan de la Font Santa is alongside the road north of Colònia Sant Jordi. The Romans knew about the two springs, Font Santa and Font Sa Bassa, the only hot springs on the Balearic Islands, and people came from miles around to bathe to cure their ills in the warm, bubbling, waters. The first baths were built in the 13th Century, following the conquest and the government erected the first bath house around 1516, calling it the Cuarto de los Sarnosos, or the Scabies House, because the waters cured skin complaints. The Church built the Chapel of Sant Silvestre and Santa Coloma next door to provide spiritual comfort visitors. The spa was auctioned off in 1909 and was run as a spa hotel until it closed; it is now under renovation.
Next to the spa is a large water storage reservoir known as Aljub de la Font Santa which was built in 1671.
There are numerous prehistoric remains around the southern tip of Mallorca and the largest group is the walled settlement called Ets Antigors, southeast of Ses Salines. The circular Talayot tower called Joana is an incredible structure, measuring over five metres high and 14 metres in diameter. Two more are at Torrent to the south and Es Mitjà Gran to the west and people continued to live at these pre-historic sites until the end of the Roman era.
It is believed that Ses Salines' square in front of the town hall was the site of a Roman camp and a cemetery from this era was discovered on the Sa Carrotja estate, on west side of the village. The Moors also lived around here, calling their settlement Jussana.
Following the conquest of Mallorca by King Jaime I in 1229 the village started life as two estates. While Sa Carrotja was to the west, the village grew up around Ca'n Bonico and it was renamed Ses Salines, literally meaning 'The Salt Mines' . The area was vulnerable to pirate raids, particularly during the 16th Century and a defensive tower called Ca'n Bàrbara stands next to the main road. When a watchtower along the coast spotted pirate ships approaching, the garrison would light fires to warn the villagers. Check out the Watchtowers webpage in the Organisations section to find out more.
Ses Salines' original church was built on Plaza de Sant Bartomeu in 1664 and it served the community for 200 years. Works started on a new church next to the main road in the 19th Century; there is a small chapel just across the road.
Heading east from the village, turn right after one mile, heading for south Ses Salines for the most southerly point of Mallorca. At the end of the road you will find the lighthouse which dates from 1863. You can walk along the coastal path and enjoy the views of Cabrera Island on the horizon. Checkout the two webpages, Cabrera Island and Cabrera Prison Camp to find out more about the island. You will also find hundreds of piles of stones along the rocky shoreline, some small and some tall; altogether they make an unusual spectacle.
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