Discover unique biodiversity and cultural heritage of Ibiza

October 13, 2022

Ibiza is worldwide famous as a party island where the most popular DJ-s are showing their entertainment skills. Beautiful beaches, year-long sunny weather and exclusive hotels are something that we can imagine when we are talking about Ibiza. But this mediterranean gem is so much more then classic holiday destination. Its unique biodiversity and culture are making perfect example of interaction between marine and coastal ecosystems and on the other hand trails of numerous civilisations are building special cultural heritage.

On small but beautiful mediterranean island you can find so much layers of history and important eco systems. All these aspects nonimated Ibiza for Biodiversity and Culture UNESCO site during the end of last century. Now, Ibiza and its citizens are proud of their heritage and with numerous projects they are protecting this important UNESCO site but also presenting it to worldwide tourists.

Fortress of Ibiza

From Phoenicians and Romans to Arabs and Christians Ibiza old town is amazing example of crossroads of civilisations, with its impressive fortress, declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. This international award acknowledges its historical, cultural, and architectural value. It is the best preserved coastal fortress in the Mediterranean. Dalt Vila’s acropolis is filled with alleys and monuments such as the castle and the cathedral. It has been a cultural crossover for centuries, and this fortress’ environment is the stage for concerts, poetic cycles, exhibitions, and cultural activities all year round.

The Phoenician remains of Sa Caleta, in San Josep, and the Phoenician-Punic necropolis of Puig des Molins, in Ibiza, are also part of this World Heritage Site, since UNESCO considers that they “are exceptional evidence of urbanization and social life in the Phoenician colonies of the western Mediterranean. They constitute a unique resource, in terms of volume and importance, of material from the Phoenician and Carthaginian tombs,” reads the official justification for inscription.

Ibiza fortress

The UNESCO committee defined Ibiza as a privileged environment due to its diversity and natural values, considering the richness of the prairies of oceanic posidonia, seabed plants, the best preserved in the Mediterranean and located within a Natural Reserve. These prairies hold 220 different species, including three globally threatened, one of them being the monk seal. They are responsible for the purity and transparency of the water that surrounds the island. Both for its cultural criteria and for its natural values, UNESCO chose Ibiza as one of the places to be preserved for future generations.

Ibiza old town

The Phoenician town of Sa Caleta, on the coast of Sant Josep, can be considered the birth place of the city of Ibiza. A visit there also offers beautiful views of the Es Bol Nou beach. Sa Caleta is a small fishing port on the southeast coast of the island, between Es Codolar and Puig des Jondal. This place is a must if you want to learn how the city of Ibiza was born, since the first Phoenicians settled here throughout the 7th century BC before moving to the big city.

Sa Caleta

There is a path from Es Bol Nou beach that leads to the big Phoenician settlement located on the side of the cliff with great views to Ses Salines. It was discovered in the 80s and 90s. In the entrance, there is a map that shows how the village was distributed. It was formed by an urban fabric of neighborhoods, buildings, alleys, and little squares. It appears that the Phoenicians that settled here came from the Iberian coast, and little by little they turned the area into a true urban center throughout the 7th century BC until 600 BC, when the village was abandoned and the Phoenicians permanently settled in Vila bay. This is where Ibiza was founded.

Cala d’Hort is a place where you can visit oldest peasant house in the history of Ibiza, in addition to being the biggest and best preserved. The remains allow visitors to get a pretty clear picture of how the villa was built and distributed. With its flat roof, the central courtyard gave way to the different rooms from the house: kitchen, four bedrooms, workroom, water tank, a mill, a “trull” (oil mill), and a cellar, amongst others. The property is over Cala d’Hort’s lowland, and Es Vedrà Island can be seen on the background. Although it is basically dry land, it has access to the water from the nearby Pere Maça stream, from which Ses Alfàbies spring comes.

Cala d’Hort

Beside cultural heritage, Ibiza is the home of one of the most important eco systems in Mediterranean. The oceanic Posidonia is an endemic plant of the Mediterranean and it cannot be found anywhere else. The sea beds of Ibiza and Formentera are home to the largest living organisms in the world – large sea grass meadows of Posidonia oceanica, eight kilometers long and over 100,000 years old. It was declared a World Heritage by the UNESCO. Poseidonia is responsible for the clear and turquoise waters of Ibiza and Formentera. It turns these waters into one of the best places of the Mediterranean to dive.

Poseidonia grass – photo courtesy of Tourism board of Balearic islands