A SMALL BIG WORLD

 

IBIZA, the island, is the third largest of the Balearic Islands and together with Formentera forms the "Pitiusas" islands, that is what the Greeks called them, and it means "islands of pine trees".
The population is 80.000 inhabitants and the island enjoys an excellent climate with an average annual temperature of 21,5° C maximum and 14° C minimum.

Ibiza, on the sun route of the ancient Phoenicians, is situated in The western Mediterranean. It has an extension of 572 square kms and a coastline of 210 kms. Its highest elevation is sAtalaiassa (475 metres) and in The waters which surround the island there are a total of 48 smaller islands, some of which, such as sa Conillera (7,29 square kms) are in themselves a small world. In reality the whole of the island is a small big world extending from the coast to the interior, its surface generally hilly and mountainous, and offers all sorts of contrasts which instil in the visitor an adventurous spirit, so that the might discover an interest in culture, tradition, nature or art.

The history of Ibiza has its beginnings in 1600 BC, however, there are no chronological records until 654 BC, when Carthage founded lbosim, nowadays Eivissa, the capital of the island, and it was Diodoro Sículo who was the first to mention us ".. After the afore -mentioned island (Sardinia) lies the so-called Pitiusa, which carries this name because of the great number of pine trees wbich grow on it...".The Carthaginians of ibiza came from Phoenicia and were very good traders. They were followed by the Romans under whom Ibiza received the title of Confederated City. In the following five centuries, know as the "dark centuries" because very little is known about them, ruled the Barbarians and the Byzantines, and their rule ended in the year 711 when the Arabs arrived and with them the name "Yebisah" for the island. The key Catalonian conquest took place, an act with wich the islands Ibiza and Formentera became part of what we nowadays call "western world". In this short historical résumé it must also be mentioned that for centuries Ibiza was attacked by Saracens who, under the protection of Turkish squadrons, made the Mediterranean unsafe. From this epoch stem the fortified rural churches and the watch towers that surround the island.

The island of Ibiza consists of five municipalities: Eivissa, the capital; Santa Eulària, Sant Antoni, Sant Josep and Sant Joan. To the visitor each one of these offers distinct possibilities which complement each other. In Ibiza a small big world opens itself to the visitor and keeps him, if he so wishes, busy for twenty-four hours a day.

THE HISTORICAL PRECINCT

Ibiza town was founded by the Phoenicians 2600 year ago, and ever since then has been continually populated.
The urban structure of the walled town, Dalt Vila (High Town) is created around an original nucleus, the actual castle, and developed in spontaneous, sporadic and heterogeneous editions, without any original planning, adapted to the geographical conditions and with no other criterion other than the defence needs of each period. Dalt Vila is surrounded by a wall constructed in the XVIth century according to the Renaissance conception of defense by the Italian engineers Juan Baptista Calvi and Jacobo Paleazo Fratin. The walls consist of seven bastions armed with artillery and a ravelin, connected by defensive walls. Inside, remains of the medieval wall can be found, arranged in four adjacent areas, each on a different level and easy to recognize.

If you begin your visit at the top of Dalt Vila you can see the distribution of medieval power in its architectural form. The Cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was built between the XIVth and XVIth century, and restored in the XVIIIth century, thus we can distinguish two phases, the first in Catalan-Gothic style and the later in Baroque style.
On the corner, next to the Cathedral, can be found a building called the "Universidad", the governing body of the island introduced in the XlIth century and abolished in the XVIIIth with the arrival of the Spanish (Castilian) troups. In its outbuildings can be found today the Archaeological Museum of Dalt Vila which as well occupies the bastion of Santa Tecla, next to the Cathedral.

Bordering on the carrer Major is the Reial Curia with ist unmistakably Gothic entrance; a building which housed todays equivalents of courthouses and notaries offices.
In the background the castle and ramparts that, with their heights, dominate the square and also the town. Their are built in different styles and is restored.

Descending the aforementioned carrer Major we come to the carrer de Sant Ciriac, and here is the chapel of the saint celebrated every year on the 8th of August, this being, according to tradition, the place where King Jaume I el Conqueridors troups managed to break the resistance of the Saracens and in the year 1235 took the town.
Descending further along carrer Joan Ramon and carrer Pere Tur we come to the Plaçaa dEspanya, where the Town Hall is situated, originally a Dominican monastery built between the XVIth and XVIlth century and whose religious functions are still carried out by the church of Sant Domingo, the entrance to which is in carrer de Balansat.

Continuing downwards along Sa Carrossa you come to a statue of Isidor Macabich, a famous poet. Then you enter Plaça de Vila, a centre of commerce and handicrafts, which leads to the guardhouse of the Portal de ses Taules, the official entrance to the walled town. In the upper part of the guardhouse you can see the building that houses the Museum of Contemporary Art that is noted for its collection of graphical art of internationally known artists.
Following the steep way downwards out through the wall you find yourself opposite the "Mercat Vell", the old market, a symbolic building for the modern history of the town.