The two most remarkable aspects of Ibiza -biodiversity and culture- lead to its declaration of World Heritage Site by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).
The Carthaginians were the ones who founded the ancient Ibosim, back in 654 B.C. In little more than a century, the city became a strategic colony in the western Mediterranean. Ebusus during the Roman Empire, and later named Yebisah under Muslim rule, the island came under the rule of King Jaume I after the Reconquest, in 1235. The continuous pirate sieges lead to the construction of a wall to fortify the city, in the 16th century.
Presently, the city is divided into Sa Penya, known as "ciudad baja" (lower city), and Dalt Vila, a monumental area located on the higher part of the city, declared World Heritage Site. Dalt Vila is surrounded by well preserved Renaissance walls, built by King Carlos V, which served as a model for walls and fortresses in the New World. The considerable height of its bastions provides a gorgeous view to the city and the port under it.
The city within the confines of the wall
The Portal de ses Taules is the gate to the walled enclosure, with remarkable buildings inside, like the City Hall, located in the old convent of Predicadores, the church of Santo Domingo, and the chapel of Sant Salvador. The cathedral, erected on top of an ancient mosque, has a sober Gothic structure, built in the 14th century, and later remodelled in the 18th century. One of the most valuable pieces of precious metalwork that are kept inside is a gold-plated silver monstrance. Sharing the same square as the cathedral, the Episcopal Palace stands out, with its distinguished gateway. Another remarkable building is the Castell o Almudaina, the tallest building in the capital, with its great Arab dungeon.
Inside the historic quarter, we can visit the Archaeological Museum, a display of the rich legacy that the city cherishes, with a valuable collection of Phoenician and Carthaginian artefacts.
The best way to admire the popular architecture of Ibiza is to walk through the historic quarter's narrow streets until the port, going through the central boulevard of Vara de Rey, to later continue along the port to the Botafoc lighthouse.
In addition to the fishing district in the lower city, another important spot is the necropolis of Es Puig des Molins, also declared World Heritage Site, along with the Phoenician town of Sa Caleta and the Ses Salines Nature Reserve. On this site, more than 4,000 Punic and Roman tombs have been discovered. The figurines of Goddess Tania, and the God Baar, are the two main pieces.
Along the shore, numerous terraces and restaurants line up, where the visitor will be able to try the best of Ibiza cuisine. And at night, the capital unveils its party side, with cafeterias, nightclubs, after-hour clubs and DJs that begin spinning at their fashionable parties.
The beaches and coves of Ibiza, such as Figueretes, Es Viver, and Talamanca have beautiful golden sands, and a magnificent seabed that will dazzle scuba divers, since it houses a great number of Mediterranean native species, part of a rich and diverse marine ecosystem. This combination of culture and biodiversity has been a key factor in the decision of UNESCO of declaring this place a World Heritage Site.
Gastronomy and the outskirts
The cuisine of Ibiza combines a wide repertoire of Balearic specialities with those native to the island. So, pork products take the centre stage, an excellent example being "sobrasada", a spread made with minced meat, and cured with spices. Also typical is the "tumbet" (a baked dish with peppers, eggplant, and potatoes), and the rice dishes with fish. For dessert, you can choose between the famous "ensaimada" (a spiral-shaped bun, with powdered sugar), the cheese with the label Designation of Origin - Mahón, and the frígola of Ibiza, one of the many dessert wines that are produced in the Balearic Isles.
The island of Ibiza can be visited in its entirety, taking the capital as a starting point. A few kilometres northeast is the town of Santa Eulària des Riu, with its Roman cemetery, and a church located on top of Puig de Missa. Further ahead we find Portinatx, tourist centre with beautiful coves and an authentic fishing town atmosphere. Lastly, Sant Antoni de Portmany has some of the best western beaches, in addition to being a lively and exciting spot in the island.