What is the history of the salt flats of Calpe?

salinas de calpe

In order to understand the salt mines of Calpe it is necessary to make a small reference
to the history of salt. History tells us that a long time ago soldiers were paid with salt,
hence the term “salary”, so we understand that in ancient times it was a very precious

In Calpe, the salt pans that have been found confirm that they were installed in the
Roman period of the Queen’s baths. The manufacturing process was simple, with the
immersion of fish remains such as viscera in a saturated solution and fermentation
thanks to the sun. After the Romans we have no record of what the processes were,
but it is likely to have been something similar with somewhat more rigorous controls
on the fish remains poured in. So, jumping forward in time with the conquest by James
I in 1240, prices were set in order to be able to sell salt. In 1260, on 13th June, there is
a document signed by James in which he granted the Calpe salt mines to Bernat de
Clora on condition that they handed over the crown. In 1364, Guillem Buigues leased
the salt flats again.

The exploitation of the salt flats over the years and their importance in supplying other
towns is documented from 1510 onwards, when each house was assigned a real of
salt, which was also determined according to the number of members in the family. In
order to be able to transport salt across the sea, they were obliged to export a certain
amount and were in danger of being attacked by pirates on their ships. In fact, the
Dutch Consul had to write a letter in 1755 complaining about the danger along the
coast and the losses they caused him.

A few years later, with the management of M. Gárulo as administrator of the salt
works, his mismanagement was questioned and in 1760 the salt warehouse needed to
be repaired in order to prevent the entry of water and the difficulty in enclosing the
bushels of salt produced, which meant that they were exposed to the risk of being
stolen. In 1780 the comptroller J.Gonzales de Sepúlveda died after 10 years working in
these salt works and left his pregnant wife and 2 children as a widow, having to ask for
a pension as he was on the verge of destitution and misery. Then in 1782 the repairs
were carried out and it was possible to continue working properly.

After several reports, it was concluded that due to the poor construction of the
reservoirs and the threshing floors, the work would not be sustainable and would be a
quantitative expense. It is concluded that the land is false and if it had been planned, it
could have been dug on a plain. That these Calpe salt works were located on the
seashore and in such a sandy and uneven terrain. After the works, it was reaffirmed
that the factory does not even produce enough salt for half the price, so any salt is
cheaper than what is produced in Calpe. Moreover, with the heavy rains and the
scarcity of the harvests, it was not possible to maintain them. The competition gained
ground as it was cheaper and of higher quality and therefore on the sixteenth of April
sixteen thousand seven hundred and eighty-six it was decided to extinguish the salt
works and transfer the administration to Denia.

In the end, the Calpe saltworks deteriorated to such an extent that it was unfeasible to
repair them. The rains did not help to solve the problem, but rather ended up making
the already abandoned salt ponds even more waterlogged. In Calpe, when they found
out about the intention to abandon the salt factory, they appealed unsuccessfully and
finally it was certified in 1786 with ratification from Madrid. At this stage it fell into
disrepair after several reports and unsuccessful attempts to glimpse a possible

In 1876 there is graphic documentation of a new attempt to restore the salt pans and
finally in 1918 Vicente Buigues began the purchase of the salt pans with their
exceptional recovery, building new ponds, new rainwater channels and avoiding the
dreaded mosquitoes that haunted the fresh water. Later his son, from 1940 to 1960,
continued to improve the exterior of the salt pans and finally, with new mills and high-
powered motors, managed to repair a large part of them until 1972, when he leased
them to J. Sanchis and A. Sanchis. In 1988 it stopped working again and in 1993 it was
declared a maritime-terrestrial zone and expropriated from its heirs. Later, in 2004,
this ruling was null and void and to date a new demarcation has been processed
without success.

So, nowadays they have been declared a maritime-terrestrial zone and are a natural
area with vegetation typical of the area with a peculiar ecosystem where you can see
flamingos if you walk around the salt flats. They also offer spectacular scenery that you
can see from some of our flats. Do you want us to tell you which ones? Contact us, we
will be delighted to help you.

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