Illes Medes seen from L'Estartit beach. Meda gran is in the forefront, taking over most of the silhouette
|• Total||0.215 km2 (0.083 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||75 m (246 ft)|
|• Total||no permanent population|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
The Illes Medes (in Catalan) or Islas Medas (in Spanish) is a small and craggy group of seven islets in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. They are located close to the shore, east of the coastal town of L'Estartit.
Meda Gran, the largest one, has an area of 1.8 km2 (0.7 sq mi) and is the only island of a considerable size. It has some Mediterranean vegetation and a 19th-century lighthouse on it. The second largest island, Meda Xica is only 0.24 km2 (0.09 sq mi). Carall (or Cavall) Bernat, Tascons Grossos, Medellot, Tascons Petits and Ferrenelles are mere steep rocky outcrops jutting out from the sea.
In 1866 a lighthouse was built on La Meda Gran; it had a resident lighthouse keeper until 1932 when an automatic light was installed. Currently the island has a solar-powered automatic lighthouse.
Despite the ravages caused by industrial pollution and mass-tourism in the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula, there is still a significant amount of marine biodiversity in the waters off the islands, like large submarine meadows of Posidonia oceanica and underwater caves where groupers breed.
In the 15th century the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem built a fortress on Meda Gran. They eventually left and pirate attacks in the 16th century damaged the fortress. The fortress became a prison during the 18th century and at the time of the Napoleonic Wars was again fortified.
On 29 August 1811 General Joaquín Ibáñez Cuevas y de Valonga, Baron de Eroles, at the behest of Luis Roberto de Lacy and with the assistance of HMS Cambrian, a Colonel Green, and British troops, landed, captured, and destroyed the fort the French had built on Meda Gran. Green then ordered the fort abandoned. Several weeks later, on 11 September, de Lacy landed on the island. He rebuilt, garrisoned and fortified the fort, and symbolically renamed the islands the Isles of the Restoration. The last military garrison left in 1890.
- Medes Islands, Visit Estartit official tourist of Estartit and Torroella de Montgrí
- French Wikipedia