How to dive into the vibrant city of Ibiza

The capital of the major Pitiusa Island lies in the Balearic Islands. Aside from it being a summer and party place, it counts with historical architecture sites that deserve a visit. Very close to Formentera, it is a place of great cultural interest. In the next sections of this travel guide, we will review the history and the best places to see in Ibiza.

Explore Ibiza and the historical wealth of the Balearic gem

There is a lot to see and do in Ibiza. Apart from its fantastic nightlife, Ibiza hides a rich cultural, historical, and monumental heritage. The city can be seen in one or two days, depending on the time you have left from the tempting beaches. Another imprescindible visit in this travel guide is the Natural de Salines Park located south of the island.

If there is time left over, it is possible to visit  Saint Agustin d´es Vedra or head north to Sain Eulària des Riu. Both are located only 20 minutes away from the capital.  Let´s go ahead and begin our visit to Ibiza.

Unlocking the history of Ibiza

Ibiza as seen from its walls

Ibiza as seen from its walls. | Envato

Before beginning this travel guide to Ibiza, it is worth learning about the history. It is documented to have begun in the year 654 B.C., when the fenicians founded Ibosim. Such position was taken later by the cartagineses. During the second Punic war, the Escipione brothers, father and uncle of the mythic Escipióne the African, conquered the island. However, they were not successful to take the fort, leaving upon the arrival of aid. From the Punic and Roman times, the necrópolis of Puig des Molins has been conserved. With more than 4000 graves, it was declared a Heritage of the Humanity by UNESCO in 1999.

Ibiza was taken by the Romans, that was dominated by Ebusus. These maintained the government structures until the moment in which it received the title of the Roman Municipality. The responsible for this was Emperor Vespasiano, on 70 A.C.

There is very little data registered about the looting from the vandals. These were frequent in the zone after the fall of the Roman Empire. The Byzantines then conquered it in 534. Afeter a period of presumed abandonment, it was taken into power of the Caliphate troops in the year 992. The muslims locked the city away in a triple wall and gave it the name of Yebisah. Equivalent to the Casco Aniguo, today it is known as “Dalt Vila”.

The fortress of Ibiza at sunset

The fortress of Ibiza at sunset. | Shutterstock

In 1235, the city was conquered by Guillem Montgrí, which divided it between the conquerers installing a feudal system. The triple islamic division was substituted by a jurisdiction of rooms. Due to motives of security, the muslim population was massively deported. It was replaced by Gironans that had better luck then the ones that went to Formentera. The island formed part of the then new kingdom of Mallorca, dependant of the Aragón Courts. In the year 1354, The King of Castilla Peter I assaulted Ibiza by surprise.

During the Middle Ages, new buildings were built, both civil and religious. In the highest part of the city the University was installed. On it´s own, the Church of Saint Mary was expanded with the construction of the gothic apse and the Bell Tower. Also, the Almudaina-Castle closure was adapted for new military and political necessities. This is how it was utilized as a residence to Representatives and Governors.

Church of Saint Mary in Ibiza

Church of Saint Mary in Ibiza. | Shutterstock

In the XVI century, during the Revolt of the Brotherhoods, the bishop of Palma de Mallorca moved to Ibiza. He managed to maintain the island in peace. In the same century, the monarch Phillilipe II promoted the construction of a wall. Departing from the Muslim, a project from Italian Giovanni Battista Calvi, he confirmed the strategic role that Ibiza had in defense to the Mediterranean territorries.

In 1705 the island was declared in part to the Archiduke Carlos of Austria. By the Decrees Of Nueva Planta (1715)  it substituted its past Government to Municipalities, with a total of eighteen. In 1782, King Charles III gave the title of the city and in it a Episcopal see was established. This supposed that the past Parish of Saint Mary´s would turn into a cathedral.

On June 1st 1806 a height duel broke off in front of the Ibiza port. The throw began between the Ibizan ship Saint Anthony, Saint Isabel, and Felicity. This was the most famous English sail ship of all time, a Gibralterian known as  “el Papa”. The capture of Felicity has been celebrated ever since that day. Because of this, Ibiza is one of the few places in the world where there is a monument for the privateers.  Which results in something paradoxical in an island that suffered assaults from the Ottoman Empire for years.

In the first three months of the Spanish Civil War massive massacres ocurred. During July, the Nationalist faction against the republic took control over the island, murdering the supporters of the other parties. In August, Republican troops conquered the island, executing the fascists they found. The 13th of September, three Italian airplanes bombarded Dalt Vila y la Marina, killing forty people. In return, militia anarchists murdered a centenar of “right-wingers” which included 21 priests. The following week, a detachment of Mallorcans commanded by the Italian fascist “Conde Rossi” conquered the island. During the attavked the republican followers that had not left were murdered.

From the 50s, both the city and the island have had a great developing tourism. Today, Ibiza is an internationally known city due to it´s cosmopolitan tourism. This is the reason why this travel guide allows us to explore this city to it´s full extent.

What to see in Ibiza, an architectural treasure


Ibiza. | Envato

Not only are there beaches and parties in Ibiza. Whether you opt for the landscapes or the historic-cultural side, the visitor will not be dissapointed. The city is divided in different neighborhoods or zones: Dalt Vila, Sa Penya, Sa Marina, Ensanche and Puig des Molins.

Next on the travel guide. Dalt Vila is the old city, the neighborhood with the most characteristics in Ibiza. It possesses wide cobble-stone streets, sorrounded by the shadow of the previous Muslim and Renaissance walls. Also, it has been declared a  World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, along with the Phoenician-Carthaginian necropolis of Puig des Molins. The walls are the most important monument in Ibiza. They were constructed over the old Muslim walls by orders of Phillip II.

The best place to access the historic helmet is the Portal of Ses Taules, the main gate to the Renaissance wall of the XVI century. It is flanked by two Roman statues that supposedly hid the city from the enemy. From there, you should head to the Pati d’Armes (Patio of Armas), paved, and the main plaza. This is the Plaza of the Villa, one of the cores with the most cheerfulness and bustle on this part of the city.

Nevertheless, there are also other gates of access to see in this travel guide. A good example would be the Portal Nou (New Portal), less inclined and with great wood supports that shelter homes with a catalán-gothic style, gift-shops, and art galleries. On another hand, the Portal of Sant Joan, presently hosts the Museu d’Art Contemporani. The space contains an interesting collection of contemporary paintings and sculptures.

Portal Nou

Portal Nou. | Shutterstock

From the bulwarks of the fort, there is a marvelous view over the city. The most spacious and most seeked of the seven towers is the Balwark of Saint Lucía. This place serves are the stage to a jazz festival every July. Anothe balwark with good views is the Saint Tecla,  just behind the Plaza of Spain. If there is time to spare, it is worth going to vist the remaining ones, from all seven you can catch great over views.

In the Plaza of Spain what stands out, apart from the Estatue of Conquerer Guillem Montgrí, the building of the Town Hall. The construction occupies the dependencies of the old convent of the  Dominican Order since 1838, also the Santo Domingo church. The last one mentioned is the old church of the monastery. Orimarily ith barrocan style, it had suffered various modificationsñ It has a sole ship, it is 32 meters long and 5 lateral chapels on each sidel In various ocassions it served as a prison, hospital, school, institute, and the mayorship. Especially attention stealing are the three domes covered in Valencian style roof tile.

The seminary can be found in the Plaza of Dalt Vila and it´s tower is one of the most scarce Muslim art remains in Ibiza. Around this plaza, you may alsoobserve the structures of different seniority houses. On the other side, the small Church of l’Hospitalet ( XV c.) maintains the architecture of the rural churches in Ibiza, though presently it is a exposition hall.

Dalt Vila or the old part of the city

Dalt Vila or the old part of the city. | Shutterstock

Though the most note worthy from Dalt Vila, and the best on this travel guide to Ibiza, is the tallest part of the city. Here you can find the Cathedral of Saint Mary and the Almudaina Castle. The space is the core center of the city. It takes up the highest point of the city, chosen as theworship place by various civilizations a long the centuries. The cathedral is still situated in the place of the ancient Church of Sain Mary, from the XIII century. In it´s time, it was edificated over an ancient mosque and was made larger from the XIV to XVIII century. In all cases, it always maintained a generally gothic look. The exterior of the temple stands out for it´s sobriety and robustness of its buttresses. Lets continue on this travel guide.

In exchange, the interior is a barrocan style and counts with important works of art. A lot of which are exposed in the Diocesano Museum, with access from the same temple. As well as in the Cathedral Plaza, you can find the Museu Arqueològic d’Eivissa i Formentera. This space exposes art from the historic and archeological parts from the Pytiusic Islands from different eras. The areas explored are the prehistoric, Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman, and Medieval Islamic. As far as the castle, it is a rectangular shape with towers on each corner. Remember the structure of the qars, fortified Islamic structures. In the south side you can find the Governors House, along with residences of the Government representatives.  Based on what chronicler Ramón Muntaner tells, in the castle is where King Alfonso III of Aragón resided in 1286.

There are many other interesting neighbourhoods to see in Ibiza. Sa Penya is the old fishers port, situated betweern the port and the walls of Dalt Vila. It is formed of stretched laborynthic streets and white colored homes. It has a certain level of degradation, which is a pity. If it would be really taken care of and dynamized, it could be a great symbol of the city, being a distinctive neighborhood. The houses with the stile built there and distinctive corners make it a singular place in this travel guide.

The port of Ibiza

The port of Ibiza. | Shutterstock

Sa Marina, to the North of the Blulwark of Saint John, is the one that hosts the most popular shops and the Pereyra Theater, a known restaurant-bar with live music. The Port is another frequented place, the true marine face of the neighborhood. You will no miss any fancy yachts in this place, due to the many around. In this zone of Sa Marina the surprising Monumento a los Corsarios is also located. It is worth nothing that this tribute is for a local. There is a multitude of bars, restaurants, and souvenir stores in this place to remember where you visited on this travel guide.

The Ensanche has as a neuralgic point the Passeig of Vara of the King, vital zone with cafeterias and restaurants. Another that stands out is the Mercat des Peix(Fish Market) and the Mercat de ses Verdures (Vegetable Market). From there you can start the climb to Portal de ses Taules, which is the entrance to Dalt Vila.

Closing on this travel guide to Ibiza,on the exterior is located the Yacimiento of Puig des Molins. It has this name due to the olives and mills that were located ther in the XIX century. After diverse excavations in the hill, more than 4000 graves were discovered, which showed that before it being an olive grove it was a necropolis from the Roman and Phoenician era. After these findings the Museu del Puig des Molins, where you can enjy many of the pieces recovered from the extractions: necklaces, arms, coins, jewels, and even sarcophagus.

Because of all of this, the visitor must have in mind that the trip to Ibiza is more that just sun, beaches, and never ending parties. Which are elements that are always focused about the city.There are many cultural and historic places to explore and see in this travel guide to Ibiza.

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