Ibiza’s biodiversity and culture, a World Heritage asset
The Dalt Vila complex, the Phoenician settlement of Sa Caleta and the posidonia seagrass meadows are some of the treasures safeguarded by the isla blanca
In 1999, under the title ‘Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture’, UNESCO inscribed a selection of the island’s cultural and natural assets on the World Heritage List. This was a recognition of the importance of the historical imprint left by Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Renaissance man, as well as of a quintessential Mediterranean marine ecosystem, the underwater meadows of the Posidonia oceanica seagrass covering the seabed of Ibiza and providing food and shelter for many species.
One of the protected treasures is the walled enclosure of Dalt Vila, which crowns the city of Ibiza and is considered the best preserved coastal fort in the Mediterranean. The site includes the ancient districts situated at the foot of the city walls, La Marina, Sa Penya and Es Soto, a network of narrow streets beside the port to which navigators, traders and artists from all eras have gravitated. It also includes the ancient market gardens of Ses Feixes, next to the city, and the necropolis of Puig des Molins, an enormous cemetery dating back to Antiquity. Also part of the cultural selection is the Phoenician settlement of Sa Caleta, the first enclave founded by the Phoenicians in Ibiza.
Dalt Vila is the walled city that has become the emblem of Ibiza. Its urban layout forms a maze of narrow streets, alleys and small squares that follow the contours of the terrain. Still standing are buildings that are true architectural milestones, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Castle, the Casa de la Cúria and the seat of the Universitat, a former local government body, today home to the Archaeological Museum of Ibiza and Formentera. The walls were built in the XVIth century, work carried out by Italian engineers and which became the model for bastioned fortresses across the entire Mediterranean.
At the foot of Dalt Vila are the districts of La Marina, Sa Penya and Es Soto, originally inhabited by fishermen and sailors and today full of shops, bars and restaurants. Further west is the necropolis of Puig des Molins, the cemetery of the ancient Ebusus - as the Phoenicians were called in Ibiza - which was used until Roman times. This archaeological site retains almost all the Carthaginian necropolis, and can be visited along with the magnificent museum’s collection of objects discovered in its tombs.
Another of the World Heritage assets is the Phoenician settlement of Sa Caleta, located on a small peninsula to the south of Ibiza. This is the island’s oldest urban settlement, dating from the 13th century BC and inhabited by people from the Iberian Peninsula who years later moved to the bay of Ibiza to found today’s city.
And under the sea lie the Posidoniaoceanica meadows protected by UNESCO, which cover a large part of the island’s seabed, keeping its waters clear and oxygenated.