Skip to main content

Mediterranean's changing saltscapes; a study of the abandonment of salt-making business in Greece

  • Authors (legacy)
    Petanidou Th. and Dalaka A.

Saltscapes are landscapes with a long lasting salt-making activity, thus embedded with a
blend of salt-related characteristics that marked them physically, ecologically, economically,
and culturally. This study, based on a broad survey, focuses on the changing atlas of saltmaking
business and the consequent land use change in Greece within the 20th century.
Like in many Mediterranean countries, salt-making has been an important activity in Greece,
not only because salt catered for local and national needs (food condiment and preservative;
basic resource in husbandry and industry), but also because it offered significant revenues to
the Greek State. Taxed salt has been produced in 28 semi- or entirely-mechanized State
saltworks. The remaining less productive salinas operated in clandestine and were numerous:
48 in lagoons and 307 on rocks. Both salina types produced either self-formed salt or were
man-managed (primitive, artisanal). This very dense network of salt-making sites, all located
along the coastline, was in operation mostly until WW II, thereafter many sites were gradually
abandoned. Today only eight saltworks are active in Greece (dormancy 71.4%) and, despite
their increased potential, the overall saltscape loss in the country is significant. Salinas
operating in lagoons suffered a spectacular change (93.4%) compared to those on rocks
(43.0%). We discuss the reasons of abandonment, especially the role of “globalization” in
heritage loss (ecological, cultural). We compare salinas on islands and the mainland as to
typology and values and we propose ways of recuperating these threatened resources by
using them as alternative poles for local development mainly through tourism.

Copy to clipboard
Cite this article