Sant Francesc is the capital of Formentera, you will be fascinated by the relaxed atmosphere that reigns in its streets.

Sant Francesc Xavier (or even San Francisco Javier) is the largest and oldest town in Formentera. The island’s official capital, this small village preserves in its streets the spirit and charm typical of the Mediterranean.

Here are the town hall, the main administrative bodies, a small museum and a post office. There is also an ancient chapel to visit but it is certainly in the main square that we find one of the most beautiful and characteristic views of the whole island: the church of Sant Francesc.

Church of Sant Francesc

This small church was built around the eighteenth century, between 1726 and 1738. Subsequently, the small adjoining sacristy was slightly enlarged. Its architecture is very simple: tall and sturdy white walls outline its perimeter and the choice of a humble and spartan style reveals the ancient soul of the inhabitants of Formentera. In 2004 the sand-colored facade was painted white, giving rise to many controversies among the inhabitants of the island.

church of sant francesc in Formentera

View of the church of Sant Francesc

With no windows and quite dark inside, it was originally built as a fortification to defend against the numerous pirates who invaded the island and later became a place of worship to welcome the faithful.

The entrance doors, once made of wood, were covered with iron sheets in order to increase their resistance. As evidence of its ancient function as a fortress, curious is the hole for cannons can still be seen in the main facade.

Next to the church there is the parish house, while, in the back, in a small square, on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 11 am to 2 pm there is a flea market where you can really find everything: from vintage clothes to ceramic objects.

Finally, we would like to point out the times at which mass is celebrated. On feast days at 12:00 and at 20:00. On pre-holidays it is celebrated at 20:00. Unfortunately, the times are not fixed and may be changed during the summer.

The ethnographic museum

In the second half of the twentieth century, Formentera saw a rapid and strong transformation that affected not only environmentally but also historically and culturally. From a rural lifestyle, where the main forms of self-sustenance derived from the land and the sea, they passed to a development of services that revolved mainly around tourism. This growth implied a progressive abandonment of tools and traditions of the past in favor of a new mentality oriented to the progress of the island.

The creation of the ethnographic museum is born as a testimony of a time now far away but which does not want and must not be forgotten. Here, antique utensils, clothes and machinery are kept and exposed to the public, all divided into thematic areas. Open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 2 pm and from 5 to 7 pm. Entrance is free.

Chapel of Sa Tanca Vella

chapel sa tanca vella formentera

The chapel of Sa Tanca Vella

Sa Tanca Vella is located from the center of Sant Francesc Xavier, at the end of Calle Eivissa. This was the first chapel built on the island by request of bishop of Tarragona in the second half of the 14th century and initially called chapel of San Valerio. At that time the number of inhabitants on the island was small due to the black plague epidemic.

It is a very primitive construction, covered by a barrel vault and the only evidence of the Romanesque style on the island. In the past, during the period of greatest depopulation of Formentera, the vegetation suffocated the chapel but it was restored and opened to the public in the second half of the 1980s.

This simulacrum remained the place of worship of the island’s inhabitants until, due to its small size, the nearby church of Sant Francesc was not built. In 1993 it was declared a site of cultural interest. If you are passing through, you can make a quick visit to see the exterior.

The village

Among the things to see in Formentera you certainly cannot miss the village of Sant Francesc.

The main activities that animate the capital take place day and night in the main square of Sant Francesc. Rich in small shops and bars, from the early morning hours until lunchtime, the square and the nearby streets host a market with local craft stalls.
Here are the best shops in Formentera. Big Sur Bazaar, Ca Teua and Muy are definitely worth visiting.

sant francesc market formentera

The colorful streets of Sant Francesc

The atmosphere is relaxed and pleasant, in fact many tourists go to Sant Francesc in the morning; thanks to its many cafes it is the ideal place to have breakfast before heading to the beach.

Among the most famous we mention the Cafè Matinal, a historic place on the island, which offers brunches and delights of every kind, the Big Store, a place much frequented by island lovers, characteristic for its famous and colorful walls painted by the artist Aleandro Roncarà and finally the Fonda Platè. The latter, located right in the center of the square, offers refreshment and shade thanks to its canopy covered with bougainvillea.

Sant Francesc restaurants

Where to eat in Sant Francesc de Formentera? This village is home to some of the best restaurants in Formentera.

Unmissable is the renowned Can Carlos: here you will be welcomed in a fabulous garden and you will be ecstatic with the refinement of the proposals offered (moreover, if you love this kind of attention do not miss, in La Savina, the restaurant Can Carlitos, always masterfully conducted by the same owner). Pleasant evenings await you at the original concept of Casadela (restaurant affiliated with its twin Casanita located in Es Pujols), here you will taste excellent dishes of Italian cuisine.

For those who love suggestive locations, do not miss the Ca Na Joana restaurant located in a romantic garden. If, on the other hand, you are looking for an informal restaurant specialising in tasty tapas, S’Abeurada de Can Simonet is the place for you. And if you’re in the mood for Italian pasta, El Gioviale restaurant serves an amazing carbonara.

If you’re a sushi addict, don’t miss Japoneria Bufambo, a small Japanese restaurant not far from the central square. Finally, try Bona Espina: in a very attractive location you will taste special cocktails and enjoy a high-level culinary experience.

Festivals and events

Also attended in the evening thanks to the numerous folkloristic events it will be right here in San Francesc that you can mix with the people of the island. During the summer the Island Council organizes concerts and events that entertain the natives and that also attract many tourists. You will be enchanted by this simple and cheerful atmosphere; here, even nowadays, the elderly people bring the chair from home to watch the shows and the children run freely in the square, a place devoid of any complexity.

Regarding the cadenced festivals celebrated in San Francesc we remind you: 25th July  feast of Saint Jaume (Saint James the Apostle) patron saint of the island and 3rd December feast of Sant Francesc in honor of the saint who gives his name to the homonymous village .


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