Archaeological remains in Mallorca confirm that the first salt extraction took place towards the 4th century BC, during Ancient Carthaginian settlement, but most of the findings are from the Roman period. We know that there were salt mines throughout the whole island, but the main ones are those still operating, the Salinas de Es Trenc, to the South of the island. They are part of the protected Salobrar de Campos wetlands, measuring around 172 hectares and producing about 10,000 tonnes of salt a year.
The salt mines are located behind the long sandy stretch of Es Trenc, and are fed from the water from this beach. Seawater circulates through a canal towards the natural and artificial ponds where salt concentrations increase by day, thanks to the sun and wind. This is an essential location for birds: here is where over 170 species, such as flamingos and cranes, feed and rest, and conservation organisations tally their numbers and study their migration patterns.
The smaller ponds produce the valuable fleur de sel, flower-shaped salt crystals that float and are collected manually. This is the purest salt, containing over 80 minerals that are necessary for our organisms, and the favourite salt used by renowned chefs for seasoning their creations. The Es Trenc salt mines offer guided visits, lasting approximately 40 minutes, where you will learn the secrets of salt production and the natural value of this treasured ecosystem.
Another salt mine to be visited in Mallorca is the Salinas dels Estanys, at the Colònia de Sant Jordi, dating from the 4th century BC and considered as the oldest salt mine on the Mediterranean.
The Carthaginians began producing salt on Ibiza around the 5th century BC. The salt mines were then used by various settlers, until in 1871 they became privately-owned. Today they are contained within the Parque Natural de las Salinas de Ibiza y Formentera, and can be visited by walking along the narrow footpaths separating the ponds. The Interpretation Centre for this natural park is located next to the Sant Francesc de l’Estany church, at the entrance to the salt mines, and it offers information on its ecological and economic value.
The park also includes the Formentera salt mines and the strait that separates the two islands, the seabed of which is covered in posidonia oceanica (seagrass), responsible for the crystalline quality of the water. The island offers beautiful coastal lagoons close to the salt mines, such as S'Estany des Peix, Estany Pudent and la Bassa de S'Espalmador.