THE TRADITIONAL COUNTRY HOUSE
Accustomed to being invaded over the centuries, the local inhabitants have preserved their customs and traditions. Their isolation has meant the local countryfolk have developed a strong personality, with marked peculiarities, that has survived to our day.
As we travel around the island, our attention is surely drawn to the beauty of the ancient country houses and how they sit harmoniously in the landscape. Be it the simpler type, made up of cubes whose amount increases as the family's requirements do, or the ones with two floors and an arched terrace upstairs, the distribution is quite similar.
These houses are made up of a South-facing main room or porxo; the portico or porxet, which gives shading over the entrance; the kitchen, sa cuina, with a large fireplace which often takes up half of the room; the bread oven, es forn, whose rounded dome is of Arab origin and can be separate or annexed to the kitchen; the water cistern, sometimes more than one, close to the entrance or included within the building; the bedrooms, with a small square window high up on the wall, in old times without glass to provide ventilation; the cellar for storage, sometimes with oil or wine presses; the animal yards, distributed around the outside of the house.
The water cisterns collect the rainwater, which is why the houses have flat roofs with guttering around them, which are swept clean with a new broom before the first rainfall. The group of buildings is usually carefully whitewashed. The Ibiza rural house has been seen by some as a palace, autonomous and self-sufficient.
Every rural house in Ibiza has a name that identifies it, usually the nickname of the person who built it. Due to inbreeding, last names are often repeated. According to a census from 1880, the names Tur, Ribas, Juan, Guasch, Bonet and Prats made up half of the electoral roll. The need to distinguish them gave way to nicknames, which often came from the profession, the place, names of plants or animals, or some peculiarity of the person.
Other constructions which were traditional on the island were the watch-towers. Following the coastline, and sometimes inland too, circular stone towers can be found, which were used to raise the alarm with fire signals upon the arrival of Turkish or Barbary pirates. The local peasants would then find refuge in the fortified churches or the better protected houses. The village of Balafi, with towers entwined with the houses, is the most beautiful architectural compound on the island.