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Military Architecture

Strategic and military reasons have made the Balearic Islands, situated in the centre of the West Mediterranean, a reference point for sailors and traders.

During different historical periods, above all during the XVI and XVII centuries, pirate raids and other events resulting from the differences that existed between Spain and the Ottoman Empire forced the construction of a lookout and defense system. The element that most represents this system is the defense tower.  There are six constructions of these characteristics distributed along the coastline.

Historical Context

For its geographical situation in the centre of the Western Mediterranean, the Balearic Islands have always been a reference point both for sailors and traders and for strategic military reasons.

This priviledged position meant that during the XVI-XVII centuries, the coasts of the Balearic Islands became a permanent scene pirate acts by groups living throughout north Africa, especially on the coasts of Algiers.  These raids should be put into a much wider complex inside the framework of intensive conflicts and tensions between Spain and the Ottoman Empire.  Amongst many examples of this fact, we can name the attack on the Port of Soller (1542), the plundering of Valldemossa (1545) and Pollença (1550) etc.

All these raids instigated a lookout and defense system.  Towers were constructed along the coast of the islands.  The main figure in the planning of all this system was D. Jouan Binimelis, who designed a unit defence system by means of coastal towers which were visually connected.  A codified signalling system between the towers was created, to advise as quickly as possible of invaiders.

The construction system of the coastal towers

The tower was constructed by means of stone blocks joined by mortor.  The plinth was made with large stones that were filled with earth and stones. Once the plinth has been made a perimetre wall was built up to the hight where the main chamber. As from this height the doors and windows were inserted and the walls were built around them, the interior was filled in with compact earth, to form a circle, which enabled the construction of a vault of small masonry stone mixed with chalk morter. The vault was then emptied leaving the main defined area.

Torres Costeras del término municipal de Calvià

1. Tower of es Cap Andritxol.
This is a tower that is found at  180 m. above sea level. It is a type of cylindrical with a main chamber and a terrace on top.  The doorway is  cylindrical, it has a main chamber and a superior terrace. The entrance door is situated 4m from ground level. The main chamber is built as a vault using masonry mixed with morter.  There are steps that lead to the terrace.  This tower was built between 1580 and 1582.

2. Castellot of Santa Ponça.
It is a circular floored tower like a trunk with two semicircular rings of carved marès. The tower consists of two floors, on the first the room for the troups and the powder room.  The main part is a spherical chamber made of masonry.  The door used to be on this floor. This tower was built in 1302 and was reinforced in 1588.

3.Tower of Cala Figuera.
It is a tower that is situated at  20 m above sea level. It is formed by two parts, one in the form of a trunk for the base and the other circular where the main chamber was situated, with a vault and a door. This tower was constructed between 1579 and 1582

4. Tower of Portals Vells.
Tower situated at  25 m. above sea level. With cylindrical floor, it consists of a main chamber approximately 4 m. above ground level which is accessed by a doorway with a stone lintel of carved calcareous stone. The vault is spherical and the paving of marès. The tower is constructed with masonry of stone mixed with sand and morter.  It was built in 1584.

5. Tower of Sa Porrassa.
Situated at approximately  40 m. above sea level, it is a tower which is slightly like a trunk with a plinth of varying height finished off by a  "crodó". It is a defence tower consisting of a main chamber situated at 4 m. above the ground. A circular stairway leads up to the upper floor. The tower is constructed using masonry of stone and marès. The construction was started in 1595 and wasn´t finished until 1616.

6. Tower of Illetes.
It is a circular tower which later had a covering added to increase the area of the upper terrace, so that more artillery could be housed. It was constructed between 1577 and 1597.