tabarka“Saint Paul´s Island “ or “Flat Island” was an small islet front Alicante city that used to be a refuge for Barbary pirates up to the end of 18th Century.

The islet was incorporated to the Kingdom of Spain in 1541 because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean by the King Carlos I. But, it was two centuries later when the King Carlos III ordered the fortification and repopulation of the Spanish Island (in 1768).  It was when Fray Juan de la Virgen obtained, in exchange for a sum of money , the redemption of 69 Genoese families that had settled on the island of Tabarka of the coast of Tunisia and had been reduced to slaves by the Tunisian authorities. For this reason, the islet was renamed “New Tabarca” in 1770.
Thus, at the end of the eighteenth century the first houses and military buildings were built by the military engineer Méndez de Ras. The city was walled in, the governor’s house was built as well as a church, laundries and cisterns.

 

But at the beginning of the 19th century, the new Spanish political situation caused the abandoment of the island. There was not such a large military deployment, the lands were not fertile, the water was scarce, the maintenance was expensive and little by little the military detachment was reduced and the island was losing importance. At the beginning of the twentieth century, fishing with tuna traps rose a little the population that has been declining until the present day because in winter no more than 60 people live.

 

In 1986, the Marine Reserve of Tabarca was created in order to enchance the marine biodiversity and protect it from fishing. Furthermore, an artificial reef was laid near the island by the Authorities to contribute these objetives.