Famous for its clubbing culture, Ibiza is known for offering some of the best nights out in the world. While it definitely is the place to go for unbeatable clubs, this reputation somewhat overshadows the island’s amazing cultural heritage – and I think that’s a real shame.
So, today I’m going to be talking about how you can get away from the party atmosphere and discover a different side to the island. To do so, I’ll focus on the attractions of Ibiza Town, which in Catalan is known as Eivissa – so don’t be confused if you hear it referred to by the latter name. By the way, you can find decent hotels in the heart of the city at http://www.sovereign.com/.
Ibiza Town – an introduction
Like the island as a whole, Ibiza Town has a deservedly excellent reputation for its clubs and bars – but let’s leave the nightlife talk there. You’ll find this charming city on the south-east coast of the island, where it’s divided into two quite distinct parts. One is Eixample, which is the newer area, and the other is the old town, known as Dalt Vila and the focus of my post today.
Being the oldest part of the city, Dalt Vila is filled with cobbled streets peppered with Gothic Catalan architecture. To give you some idea of just how important the buildings and cultural attractions here are, the whole place has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
So, that begs the question ‘what shouldn’t I miss?’ – and below you can find the answer.
The defensive walls around Dalt Vila
Topping my list are the defensive walls that hem in Dalt Vila. These were built back in the 16th century as a means of protecting the city from invasion (namely from the Turks) and they’re dotted with several impressive gateways, including the Portal de Ses Taules and the Portal de Soto es Fosc. Having taken some 40 years to build, today the walls mark out the most historic part of this exciting city.
Next up we have Ibiza Castle, which sits in the Plaza de la Catedral (as, by the way, do my next two suggestions – conveniently a lot of Dalt Vila’s major attractions are in one place!). An interesting addition to the castle is the Almudaina, which once held military and administrative installations.
While this part of the building was only joined to the castle in the 18th century, it dates back to the 1500s and excavations have uncovered ruins from the 12th and 13th centuries, revealing its long history.
The first thing that’s likely to strike you about Ibiza Cathedral is that it looks a little bit more like a fortress than a place of worship, thanks to its strong and plain exterior. It dates back to the 14th century, when it was built in a Gothic style – but a quick glance is all it’ll take to tell you that the building you’re looking at is more recent. In fact, it was restored in the 18th century in the Baroque style.
Archaeological Museum of Ibiza and Formentera
Last up we have the Archaeological Museum of Ibiza and Formentera, which is a great place to get a feel for the islands’ past. Spanning several buildings, this museum displays a huge array of objects that cover a staggering 3,000 years of history – so make sure you leave plenty of time to explore!
The collection starts at prehistory and continues through to the Christian reconquest, spanning several themes, including Phoenician colonisation and Moorish medieval times.