Everything you need to know about San Antonio’s annual Romans vs Carthaginians battle on the beach. Below are details of what happens on the day and where to go to watch the events unfold. But first a little historical background – well you didn’t think it was going to be all about rotten tomatoes did you?
Ibiza’s History During the Rule of the Carthaginians and later the Romans
In 654 BC, Phoenician settlers founded a port on Ibiza. With the decline of Phoenicia after the Assyrian invasions, Ibiza came under the control of Carthage, also a former Phoenician colony. The island produced dye, salt, fish sauce (garum), and wool.
A shrine with offerings to the goddess Tanit was established in the cave at Es Cuieram, and the rest of the Balearic Islands entered Eivissa’s commercial orbit after 400 BC.
By now Ibiza was a major trading post along the Mediterranean routes, and the island began establishing its own trading stations along the nearby island of Majorca. These included the settlement at Na Guardis, where numerous Balearic mercenaries signed up as slingers to fight for Carthage.
During the Second Punic War, the island was assaulted by the two Scipio brothers in 209 BC but remained loyal to Carthage. With the Carthaginian military failing on the Iberian mainland, Ibiza was last used by the fleeing Carthaginian General Mago to gather supplies and men before sailing to Minorca and then to Liguria.
Ibiza negotiated a favorable treaty with the Romans, which spared Ibiza from further destruction and allowed it to continue its Carthaginian-Punic institutions well into the Empire days, when it became an official Roman municipality.
For this reason, Ibiza today contains excellent examples of late Carthaginian-Punic civilization. During the Roman Empire, the island became a quiet imperial outpost, removed from the important trading routes of the time.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire and a brief period of first Vandal and then Byzantine rule, the island was conquered by the Moors in 990, the few remaining locals converted to Islam and Berber settlers came in. Under Islamic rule, Ibiza came in close contact with the city of Dénia—the closest port in the nearby Iberian peninsula, located in the Valencian Community—and the two areas were administered jointly by the Taifa of Dénia.
Sant Antoni’s Eternal War Between Rome and Carthage
- Words Nicole Torres, Photos Chris Bevan.
It is fair to say that ‘any excuse for a party’ has more to do with San Antonio’s annual Romans vs Carthaginians battle on the beach than any basis in historical accuracy. But do not think for one moment that San Antonio’s ‘eternal war’ is not taken very seriously by the combatants.
The battle takes place every September between the residents of Sant Antoni and Sant Agustí taking the role of the Roman and Carthaginian armies.
Given the fiercely competitive nature of the battle, it is probably for the best that the weapon of choice is old rotten tomatoes, which are hurled at the opposing army from the protection of largely inadequate defensive installations.
On The Day
Late in the afternoon, the armies mass their ranks.
At half past seven they proceed to the site of the battle, and always in the spirit of the day, sign the peace treaty between the two armies before the tomato fight starts.
It is a great sight, and many people will congregate along the paseo to watch. Sometimes there is some spontaneous public participation.
After the battle, there is more partying to be done, the Roman vs Carthage night always seems to end later than most – well who would argue with them?
The night traditionally ends with a fire show, and there are usually children’s activities before the event, or the night before the event.
- Where to go: The battle happens on the s’Arenal beach, San Antonio’s main beach. Go to the Paseo (promenade) late afternoon and you will see clearly where the battle is to take place.
- The action usually starts at 7.30pm, but do check locally for any change in plans.