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Consell de Formentera offers virtual visits of megalithic Ca na Costa burial site

foto 2021 ca na costaThe Formentera Patrimony Department reports that starting today, visitors of the Consell de Formentera website will find a new feature: virtual visits of Ca na Costa, a burial site which scientists say dates back to megalithic times. The Formentera and Eivissa island governments are both participants in the project, which was conceived by the Archaeological Museum of Eivissa and Formentera (MAEF) before being picked up by the Balearic Ministry of Culture.

Following this link from the Consell de Formentera website, visitors get a full 3D tour with detailed Spanish- and Catalan-language explanations about various features of the monument. A general overview of the historical site is offered too, as well as an interactive map and information about MAEF’s wider effort to digitise other archaeological sites.

‘Bringing islanders face-to-face with heritage’
According to Formentera Heritage Department chief Raquel Guasch, “the FHD embraced MAEF’s initiative because bringing islanders into contact with Formentera’s archaeological heritage is one of our top priorities this legislative term. This digital tool will make it easier to bridge the gap.” Guasch said the goal was to develop the digital catalogue still further, giving prominence to heritage sites and working together with MAEF, whose work so far she described as “fantastic”.

Marking a convergence of the island governments of Formentera and Eivissa and the regional administration in Palma, the initiative aims to take the Pine Islands’ archaeological endowment online, where it can be enjoyed not just by locals but by people around the world. Plans to incorporate other visitable landmarks into the catalogue are seen as a way to promote in-person visits as soon as the public health situation improves.

MAEF unveiled the initiative in March 2020, highlighting virtual visits of the Monographic Museum of Puig des Molins and the nearby underground graves known as “Hipogeus de la Mula” (a site managed by the Balearic Ministry of the First Minister’s Office, Culture and Equality in coordination with MAEF). The collaborative effort has also meant the digitising and preparation for virtual visits of two other Eivissa landmarks: Ses Païsses archaeological ruins in Cala d’Hort and the sanctum of Cova des Culleram.

10 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Crews cap restoration of La Mola windmill sweeps

foto 2021 moli Vell la Mola 1The Formentera heritage office reports that after roughly two months of work, restoration on assorted parts of the old La Mola windmill is now complete. Workers are expected to finish mounting pieces of the structure that were restored last week.

Full restoration operations were deemed necessary after the heritage office and Balearic Islands Foundation reported that wind and the elements had left two of the lighthouse’s six pinewood sweeps in a deteriorated state. One sweep snapped as crews performed preparatory work, bringing two more sails along with it and prompting the decision to remove the windmill’s wind-catching apparatuses so the ensemble could be secured, allowing for improved visitor safety and a more thorough assessment of restoration needs.

To the extent possible, meticulous restoration operations respected craftsmanship and materials of the original structure. For instance, slender and straight pine trees were selected to replicate the sails, or sweeps, in need of replacement.

Efforts were led by Francesc Torres ‘Moliner’ and Jaume Escandell d’en Ferrer — individuals with knowledge and experience in similar operations, and who in the past worked with the previous miller, Joan Torres Mayans ‘Moliner’, to restore other windmills in the Pine Islands.

Safeguarding windmills
“Restoration was considered a priority given the poor state of conservation of several of the windmill’s structural elements”, said heritage councillor Raquel Guasch, highlighting the Formentera government’s efforts “to guarantee protection of the La Mola windmill”. In November 2019 members of local government voted to begin the process of designating La Mola’s molí vell (old mill) a monument of special cultural interest. Attendees of another plenary gathering, this time in July of last year, voted to extend protections around the windmill with “more innovative safeguards consistent with the reality of the physical surroundings”. In the words of the local heritage chief, “the goal is to ultimately accord ‘cultural interest site’ status to every windmill on the island”.

Last year the Consell de Formentera signed a rental agreement with Balearic Islands Foundation, which owns the windmill, giving local government direct control over opening hours and visits for the next six years.

The “Molí Vell de la Mola” will once again open to the public this Saturday, with winter hours —weekends from 10.00am to 2.00pm— in effect until May. Admission is free.

18 January 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Parish subdivisions in spotlight in Consell de Formentera’s 2021 calendars

foto 2021 calendari 2The Formentera Language Advisory Service reports it has dedicated this year’s calendars to the parish subdivisions, or “vendes”, of Formentera. In addition to covering the fourteen municipal subdistricts that have constituted Formentera’s official “vendes” since 1983 (six in Sant Francesc, four in Sant Ferran and four in El Pilar de la Mola), the calendar features informational bubbles that trace the roots of this type of subparish, which was historically unique to Eivissa until its 18th-century exportation to Formentera amid repopulation efforts here.

Heritage and language policies councillor Raquel Guasch underscored the importance of “seizing every opportunity to spotlight aspects of our history and reality so they can be passed down across the generations with normalcy. The current push is just the latest instance of that.”

Islanders can read about how the term “venda” gradually became widespread, coming to describe particular territories and aspects of civil and ecclesiastic organisation, such as the tradition of blessing household porches with holy water and salt, a rite which was performed from one venda to the next.

Two thousand copies of the calendar have been printed and are available at public information points of the Consell de Formentera.

5 January 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Sant Francesc cemetery included in 2021-2022 graves plan

foto 2020 pla fosses A first dig at the new Sant Francesc Xavier cemetery is programmed as part of the Balearic government’s 2021-2022 Civil War Graves Action Plan — a plan approved 19 November by the regional technical commission on graves and disappeared persons, of which the Eivissa-Formentera Forum for Memory is a member. Local application of the CWGAP was at the centre of a presentation today by the island’s heritage chief, Raquel Guasch, and regional secretary of democratic heritage and good governance Jesús Jurado. The gathering also saw the attendance of Consell de Formentera deputy chair Ana Juan and historian Antoni Ferrer.

The potential number of victims and area of disinterment mean efforts at the new Sant Francesc cemetery are among the most sizeable of those currently envisioned. The plans were added to the third programme of exhumations after research by Antoni Ferrer determined 58 deaths had occurred between 1941 and 1942 at the local prison and highlighted three zones of the Sant Francesc cemetery where victims’ remains may lie.

Based on research and witness accounts, Ferrer’s report describes inhumane conditions at the insalubrious and overcrowded Formentera camp, where lack of food was widespread and frequently gave way to death by starvation.

Ferrer used previously overlooked documentary sources to calculate the exact number of deaths at the Formentera prison. Where peers had relied on archives from the civil registry and death records in the Sant Francesc Xavier parish, Ferrer enlisted the Consell de Formentera’s own files from the administrative office of the courts and local census documents, ultimately corroborating the deaths of 58 individuals.

Councillor Guasch praised the Balearic government for its “clear efforts to recover this chapter of our history and restore the dignity of victims”, adding that to do so was “a matter of basic importance if we aspire to be an advanced, civilised society and to heal long open wounds”. She also applauded the historical research of Mr Ferrer. The councillor asserted a similar undertaking was in order at the former prison, where it would be necessary to “restore dignity to the site and come to terms with this chapter of our past”.

Burial site
Ferrer explains that the new municipal cemetery’s 1940 opening came just months before the first documented death at the Formentera prison in April the following year. If direct accounts of prisoner burials remain elusive, Ferrer did uncover two corresponding secondary accounts pointing to two quadrants in the western part of the cemetery which were completed in 1938. Based on the documents consulted, Ferrer concludes that Catholic rites were observed for the burials, but says the historical record doesn’t permit knowledge of whether the graves were marked.

New details about the deceased aren’t the study’s only novelty: transcripts of the local census and processing data have made it possible for Ferrer to substantiate the presence of approximately 1,500 prisoners at the local prison.

Recent digs
Seventeen graves have been excavated across the Balearic Islands since 2014. Following efforts in Sant Joan (2014), Porreres (2016, 2020) and Sant Ferran (Formentera, 2017), the 2018 action plan dictated excavations at Alaró, Marratxí, Sencelles, Calvià, Ses Figueretes, Llucmajor, Santa Maria, Montuïri, Pou de s’Àguila (Llucmajor) and Pou de Son Lluís (Porreres). A subsequent 2019-2020 action plan brought additional operations at Son Coletes, Manacor, Bunyola, Coll d’Artà and Valldemossa. Follow-up efforts have been carried out at Sencelles, Porreres, Ses Figueretes, Pou de Son Lluís and Santa Maria.

29 December 2020
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera in spotlight for new Consell-backed edition of Pine Islands’ folk songbook

foto OCFThe Formentera Heritage Department has partnered with editor Jaume Escandell Guasch to publish a Formentera-specific volume of a folk song repertory whose story stretches back to 1928, when Baltasar Samper i Ramon Morey put out the original Obra del Cançoner Popular de Catalunya (“Popular Catalan Songbook”).

After close-ups on Sant Josep de sa Talaia (dir: Isidor Marí) and Sant Antoni de Portmany (Cati Marí Serra), the third installation in the “Pine Islands Songbook—1928” series features Isidor Marí’s return to coordinating duties and turns the spotlight on Formentera.

Heritage councillor Raquel Guasch congratulated Cançoner’s authors on their “exhaustive cataloguing of island culture at its most essential” and asserted, “This brings us closer to our roots through popular hometown music”.

In addition to an extensive collection of song lyrics documented by Baltasar Samper on Formentera between 15 and 18 September 1928, the volume also contains musical annotations by the author as well as thirty original photos of interview subjects and sites which struck Samper as eye-catching.

The physical documentation produced by Samper’s original 1928 mission in the Pine Islands is today kept at the Biblioteca de Montserrat. The Catalan government’s CDCPT holds the documents in their digital format.

Volume 10 of the “Popular Catalan Songbook”, put out in 2000 by Abadia de Montserrat Publishing, included a limited selection of texts and photographs, but the current edition constitutes the first-ever exhaustive release of Samper’s collected research.

The Formentera edition of the “Pine Islands Songbook” cost approximately €3,500 to put together and will be available in book stores. As ever, the edition had the support of the Consell de Formentera, Consell d’Eivissa, the town councils of Eivissa and the Balearic government.

21 December 2020
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

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