Formerly a royal hunting estate, the first private owner of ‘Isla Mayor’ was the Spanish noble Julio Falco D’Adda (1834-1899) Baron of Benifayó, son of Italian Prince Pio de Saboya and Ana D’Adda.
He acquired it in 1871 from his friend Spanish King Amadeo I (from Italian House of Saboya), Duke of Aosta. He had been expelled from the court in Madrid after killing his opponent Diego de Castañeda in a duel defending Princess Maria Victoria del Pozzo della Cisterna y Belriguardo, consort of King Amadeo; and was punished to retire far in the province of Murcia.
He found about these Mar Menor islands to retire in and became deeply involved with his wise nature conservation practices well ahead of his time.
In a very short time he built his residence, a beautiful neo-mudejar (Moorish style) palacio, using island made bricks and updated the few other buildings (hunting lodge, mews, boathouses, etc.) paths, wells and the Arab style ‘aljibes’ (rain water reservoirs) that still exist.
But he then took good care to save the soil with plenty stone barriers protecting earth from being washed away by the very scarce but very heavy rain falls typical in this arid climate. And then took care about the vegetation maintaining the natural Mediterranean ‘maquia’, well adapted to this climate, and wisely introduced Sardinian mouflon as good plant grazers. At the same time he promoted local wildlife and small game as he was a fond shooter.
The island has kept its ecological value preserved over the years. Protection by the Navy since 1726 of King’s Felipe V ‘Real Coto Islas del Mar Menor’, and continuous nature sensitivity from many generations of the present owners family have contributed to this value. Despite its location in a turistical area with high urban speculation, Baron Island is kept today as an environmental jewel.