The town’s fortunes turned around at the beginning of the 19th century when the then King of Spain, Carlos IV, ordered salt production to be transferred to the Torrevieja lake from the nearby La Mata lagoon. Torrevieja prospered and is now home to more than 100,000 residents, including many foreign expats who have set up home here.
Mountains of salt
Production tends to take place when Torrevieja starts to heat up in June and ends in October. The process begins when the sea water is carried to La Mata lagoon. The salt lake is four metres below sea level which is enough to open the gates of La Mata canal to let the water pass through.
The strange pink-purple colour of the Torrevieja lagoon is caused by pigments of the Halobacterium bacteria which lives in extreme salty environments. This is also found in the Dead Sea and the Great Salt Lake. The colour is also caused by an alga called Dunadiella Salina, which is responsible for the bright red colour of the lake seen at certain times of the year.