Ibiza / DPA
Victor Jordan is lacking a certain
enthusiasm when he talks about his
“When it comes down to it, it’s like any other rural property, only surrounded by water,” he says.
Alegranza sits in the Chinijo archipelago, a nature reserve in the Canary Islands.
In Spain, a few dozen families own islands. Most are not multimillionaires or film stars, having inherited the properties from their forebears.
The dream of having your own island does come with a catch, however – many are located within nature reserves, and their owners are far from free to do with them what they wish. Using them commercially is often a no-no.
Apart from a small piece of public land with a lighthouse, the 10 square-kilometres of Alegranza belong to the Jordan family. Some 45 minutes by boat from the nearest port, it has been in the family since the 1940s, when it was purchased by Victor’s grandfather, Manuel, and his brothers. Their father had been a lighthouse guard, and they had spent their childhood on the island.
All that stands now on Alegranza is a house of about 340 square-metres, and a few old buildings that were used by farmers when farming was still allowed.
The island has become a source of disagreements in the family, says Victor. Some family members want to get rid of it and make it public property, meaning the regional government of the Canaries would purchase or expropriate it.
“In the end, it’s more of a burden than a pleasure,” he says.
To make Alegranza habitable all year round, improvements to its infrastructure are needed, but this would mean the island would have to be financially productive.
“This isn’t possible, because everything is forbidden,” Victor protests, explaining that it took about five years simply to get the permits needed to carry out repairs to the house.
Things aren’t all easy for owners in the Balearic Islands either.
Spanish architect Norman Cinnamond, who owns Espalmador, wants to sell the protected islet, according to reports from the regional government.
The nearby Tagomago island, less than a kilometre east of Ibiza, is advertised by real estate company Kuehn and Partner as a luxury holiday residence.
The mystical island of Es Vedra, a short hop from Ibiza, is also under private ownership, belonging to a group of 20 to 25 locals who inherited them.
Pep Ferrer is the son of one of the heirs. “It’s funny to own an island,” he says. Ferrer’s great-grandfather bought the share; while he won’t divulge the value of his lot, he describes it as something special.
Earlier this year, a dispute arose between the owners and the regional government when the latter decided to cull the island’s goats to protect other species.
Traditionally, the owners caught some goats twice a year to eat at home, Ferrer says. The island had been used for centuries to raise domestic animals. “When there was no tourism here, the animals were an important asset for survival,” he says.
The owners and animal welfare activists protested to no avail. Only around three goats survived, according to the “El Mundo” newspaper.
Today, none of the owners can do much with their share – restricted either by laws or the mountainous landscape.
“It has been passed down from generation to generation,” Ferrer says. “It’s romantic to have a piece of Es Vedra.”
Still, many of the other stakeholders want to sell the island to the government, he says. The restrictions are just too much to cope with.
They fear, however, that there is
little interest on the part of the