In such a small land area as Formentera, where land and sea resources have clearly conditioned life on the island, the line that divides cultural value from natural value is often unclear. A good example of this is the breadth of our ethnological heritage, which makes a truly sustainable use of the various different natural resources on the island. Formentera has three historical sites: Sant Francesc Xavier, Sant Ferran de ses Roques and the Pilar de la Mola. In all of these, the epicentre and the most important building is the respective parochial church. Around these hubs, a whole series of squares and roads were organised, the majority of which coincide with the ancient pathways that connected the disperse population to the religious temples.
Also part of Formentera’s cultural heritage are elements of defence and coastal marking (defence towers and lighthouses), historical sites (Ses Salines, Colonia – the Formentera prison), pathways and land division (Camí de sa Pujada, Mojones, dry-stone walls), as well as houses, flour mills, cisterns and tanks, wells, waterwheels, unique trees or escars (boatyards), among other treasures.
Moving into intangible heritage, the ballades and cantates, musical displays of huge significance within island society until the mid 20th century, are particularly noteworthy. An essential mention must also be given to the Caramelles, songs sung by men with instrumental accompaniment, that are closely linked to two key celebrations on the liturgical calendar: Christmas and Easter.
Find out more information in the Heritage Catalogue.
The Patron Saints from the different towns on the islands are must-see festive events for residents and tourists alike. In particular, the festivals of Sant Jaume (in Sant Francesc) and the festivities of Carmen, the Patron Saint of the sea, with celebrations in La Savina and Es Pujols. Most of the festivals on Formentera are held on set, unmovable dates within the yearly calendar, transforming the celebration of some Saint festivities into a veritable tradition.
Festival dates of particular interest are: Sant Joan on 24th June, Day of the Virgin of Carmen on 16th July, Sant Jaume on 25th July, Santa Maria on 5th August, Day of Our Lady of the Pillar on 12th October, Sant Francesc Xavier on 3rd December. Consult the entire Festive Calendar of Formentera here.
In June a whole cycle of live music strikes up in the Plazas of Formentera towns. On Thursdays, live world music can be enjoyed in Es Pujols, on Fridays rock music is played in Sant Ferran, and on Saturdays, jazz hits the plaza of Sant Francesc. This music genre also takes centre stage at the Formentera Jazz Festival, organised by Maxwell Moya Wright, the Formentera former member of Ojos de Brujo. Numerous legends circulate around the island, as well as true stories of when musicians such as Bob Dylan, Gilberto Gil, Pink Floyd and Bob Marley played on the island in the 60s and 70s. It is precisely from this inspirational spirit, evoked by the Island in both artists and musicians, that the Formentera Jazz Festival was created.
Other meeting points where you can listen to live music are the Artisan Markets. In the central plaza of the Mercado Artesano de la Mola (Wednesdays and Sundays from 16:00 to 22:00), live music is a regular feature, and the neighbouring bars also get involved by opening their terraces. It is also common for the Mercado Artesano de Sant Ferran Artisan Market to offer live music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in the evening-night. During August, this schedule extends to Mondays and Tuesdays.
September is the month when the Guitar Festival is held in Sant Ferran: two nights of live music with high-quality local and foreign musicians, organised by the lutier and musician, Ekkehard Hoffmann (Ekki), of Formentera Guitars. The driver behind this initiative has spent 26 years on the island, with his workshop where he welcomes musicians from all over the world and teaches them how to make their own guitars in an artisan way, combining artisan skill, culture and tourism.
EXHIBITION CENTRE AND ETHNOGRAPHICAL COLLECTION
With over 10 years of uninterrupted and on-going programming, the Ajuntament Vell Exhibition Centre, located in the Sant Francesc Xavier Plaza de la Constitución, is a space designed to hold exhibitions from local and external artists, collectives and cultural associations. It is managed by the Culture and Heritage department. The Centre offers a programme of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Inaugurations tend to be on Mondays at 20:00. Entry is free of charge.
The “Gabrielet” Antoni Tur Centre is a space for exhibitions and workshops related to local artisan practices. Furthermore, one of its wings is home to a market selling food products made on the island. Open from Monday to Saturday, more details here.
The Formentera Ethnographical Collection is located in Calle de Jaume I, 15 (first floor). It is a permanent collection of tools, utensils, furniture, clothing and instruments, which give a clear insight into how people lived on the island until the mid 20th century. Address, opening times and details here.
The La Caixa Exhibition Hall, made possible thanks to collaboration between the Consell Insular and this bank, is open Mondays to Fridays from 10:00 till 14:00, though these opening times may vary depending on the exhibition. Entry is free of charge.