Ancient salt docks of la Xanga

Heritage and culture

Over the centuries, the island of Ibiza has accumulated busy trading activities that date back to the time of the Carthaginians and Phoenicians, and which continued and developed under the aegis of successive colonisers of the island, such as the Romans and the Arabs, going on to flourish in the Christian era.

Natural resources were the essential raw material that provided the impetus to an incipient economy that, over time, would make the island an important export hub. Among the different products that were traded, salt was undoubtedly one of the most important commodities. Salt extraction was mentioned by Arab chroniclers, and it was said to have begun around 540 BC.

Vestiges of the primordial structures still remain at different points in the southern end of the island, such as the places where the precious mineral was loaded for transport to the city. One such spot was behind the promontory where the Sal Rossa watch tower stands, in a little cove known as la Xanga. There, among other elements, a dock was built where, from Phoenician times, the salt collected from the salt pans was loaded. But it was in the 16th century that the industry reached its peak.

Today, the visible remains are scant, a stone pier, some thirty metres in length, that leads out to sea, with blocks dispersed here and there, which, little by little, are submerged beneath the waters. Even so, when you are there, it is easy to imagine why that place was chosen to build the dock: the cove is not far from the town and its half-moon shape with a little islet just opposite provided a sheltered space for mooring the small boats that loaded and shipped their cargo of salt.

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