The capital of the Pitiuses Islands (Ibiza and Formentera) preserves many vestiges of its past. By the 6th century B.C., it was already a very important Phoenician-Punic colony for its time. From Carthage’s point of view, the city was a strategic base from which it could dominate the Mediterranean. The necropolis of Puig des Molins is a clear example of this pinnacle in the city’s early history. As its name (i.e., “Puig”) indicates, the site is situated on one of the city’s high points and the mills (i.e., “molins”) refer to flour mills that existed in the area during the last century. Close on 4,000 tombs dating from the Punic and Roman periods have been found on the site of the necropolis.
Ibiza’s historical Old Quarter and main sights are centred in the Upper Town (Dalt Vila), declared a World Heritage City by the UNESCO, where one can visit the Archaeological Museum, with its extensive collection of Punic and Phoenician exhibits. The usual way into the Upper Town is through the so-called Portal de ses Taules, one of the gates of the walled Renaissance citadel which once served as a fortress.
Located inside the walls are most of Ibiza’s interesting buildings and the tour ought therefore to be done on foot. The outstanding feature of the Episcopal Palace, which stands on the Cathedral Square, is its splendid door. On payment of a small entrance fee, the Cathedral may be visited during the following times: summer, 10 a.m.- 7 p.m.; winter 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. In harmony with the remainder of the island, the Cathedral is sober in style. Visitors should see the adjoining Cathedral Museum, where the prize piece is the monstrance (custodia), a work of art wrought in precious metals.
The Castle or Almudaina marks the city’s highest point. From the sea it rivals the Cathedral in prominence, with its stout defensive walls and original old keep, probably Moorish in origin. The whole was gradually built over the period from the 6th to the 18th centuries.
The City Hall (Ayuntamiento) is housed in the Predicadores Monastery, a building affected by the disentailment and sale of church property. Restored and adapted to new needs, it too is worth seeing. In addition to the stately mansions, the Church of St.Dominic (Sant Domingo), the seminary and narrow lanes leading into the Old Quarter are all “musts”.
From the Dalt Vila, one gets a superb view of the port below, with the old and very typical sa Penya Quarter in the foreground, the perfect place for a relaxed exploratory stroll. Also near the port is the Paseo de Vara de Rey, the very heart of city life. From here one continues down to the harbour.
Almost half the island’s entire population live in this one city. The rest of the inhabitants are divided among the four remaining towns.