In 1999 UNESCO proclaimed Ibiza a World Heritage City recognizing the island as having special cultural significance to the common heritage of humanity.
Ibiza, the third largest of the Balearic Islands, is located in the Mediterranean Sea only 79 km (49 mi) off of the coast of the Northeastern Spanish city of Valencia. With 40 km (24 mi) of sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and an amiable temperature all year round, Ibiza is a popular tourist destination. The unique environment and varied cultures in Ibiza make the island known all over the world for its vitality and diversified night life. However, the island also boasts a long and significant history as well as a crucial environmental role in the Mediterranean ecosystem.
In 1999, UNESCO proclaimed Ibiza as: “Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture”, a World Heritage City or Patrimony of Humanity, recognizing the island as having special cultural or natural significance to the common heritage of humanity. The World Heritage Sites of Ibiza officially recognized by UNESCO include: the fields of Posidonia of Ses Salines Natural Park, the Phoenician settlement of sa Caleta, the fortifications of the Ibiza City and the cemetery of Puig des Molins.
Posidonia is an endemic plant with leaves, stalk, leaves and fruit that forms dense prairies of Posidonia, or seagrass. The Posidonia is found in the Mediterranean Sea and is extremely important for the ecosystem because it supports a great diversity of marine life. In most parts of the Mediterranean the Posidonia is threatened, but remains well preserved in Ibiza. In this way the Balearic Island provides a remarkable example of interaction between marine and coastal ecosystems and greatly contributes to the biodiversity of marine life in the Mediterranean.
Additionally, Ibiza is recognized culturally because it preserves evidence of its long history. The island played an important role in the Mediterranean economy during the Phoenician-Carthaginian period as exemplified by the archaeological site of Sa Caleta. Sa Caleta is a Phoenician settlement that was founded at the end of VIII century BC and is the most important example of early Phoenician colonization. Sometime in late VII early VI Century BC the settlers moved to high hill dominating the bay where they founded the city of “Ibosim”, the origin of the present day city of Ibiza.
Ibosim became the first city of the Balearic archipelago and the most important in the Mediterranean due to maritime commerce of the Carthaginian Empire. In order to protect themselves from the Greeks and the Romans the settlers fortified the acropolis with walls known traditionally as Dalt Vila (literally “Upper Town”). The walls preserve imprints of history from the earliest Phoenician settlements through to the Renaissance Age because, throughout the history of construction, the earlier phases of the fortification were ultimately incorporated rather than destroyed. The 16th century Italian-Spanish engineering and military architecture mixed with the aesthetics of the Renaissance Age of Dalt Vila greatly influenced the creation of Spanish fortifications in the New World
Approximately 500 m from the fortified walls of Dalt Vila Ibiza is the archeological site of Puig des Molins. Puig des Molins is the best and most well conserved necropolis of Phoenician culture. Occupying over 50.000 m², the cemetery contains over 3,000 Punic tombs. The most spectacular tombs found in Puig des Molins are called “hypogea”, large subterranean chambers dug into rock which feature a well and an entrance door. Tourists can visit a group of hypogea equipped with lights and stairs.
Ibiza is much more than just beaches and sunshine. The island is full of historic sites dedicated to its vibrant past and incredible natural parks representing its grand biodiversity. To truly discover Ibiza, be sure to venture inland to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Sa Caleta, Dalt Vila, and Puig de Molins.