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  • Ibiza Port was a strategic point in shipping routes between East and West in the V and VI centuries BC
  • More about Ibiza

Ibiza is the result of the different cultures that have influenced it over its history, as continues to be the case due to the numerous visitors it receives in the summer.

barco fenicioThe history of Ibiza dates back to the 7th century BC, (although there are indications of earlier human occupation), when the Phoenicians started to build their first settlements. Ibiza city was founded in 654 BC with the name of Ibsm (Ibosim). The excellent situation of the island of Ibiza favoured trade with the rest of the Mediterranean regions.

The Carthaginians took over from the Phoenicians, converting the island into a true trading settlement. However, after the fall of Carthage in the first century BC, Ibiza became a Roman municipality. The situation of the island, which was ideal for controlling the Mediterranean routes, gave rise to numerous wars. It was thus dominated by the Vandals, the Byzantines and the Visigoths.

Ibiza later fell under Moslem power, and depended on the Caliphate of Cordoba, under the name of Yebisah, for many years. The Arabian influence left a legacy of great cultural importance which survives today in the architecture, the hydrology and even in the traditional garments and customs. Its heritage is reflected in the place names and in the methods of cultivation, as well as in the ruins of Ibiza Castle.

In 1235, James I of Aragon, the “Conqueror”, attacked the island to free it from the Arabs. The Catalan and Aragon troops occupied Ibiza Castle on August 8. The local Moslem population was then subjugated and new Christian settlers were brought in, incorporating Ibiza into the recently founded Kingdom of Majorca, within the Crown of Aragon. The island was divided into four districts, known as "cuartons". Once occupied, the island had to be reorganised and the parish of Santa Maria was founded (whose first church was the base of what is today Ibiza Cathedral, which is in the upper part of the old centre of the city, known as Dalt Vila).

Despite this conquest, Ibiza continued to be attacked by pirates and corsairs. Their repeated attacks gave rise to the construction of a large network of towers along the coast, which acted as watchtowers as well as refuges. Many of these watchtowers still exist today. Originally, each of these towers had visual contact with the next one. In the case of an invasion or on spying a pirate boat, a bonfire was lit to warn the nearest tower in which another bonfire would be lit and so on successively until the entire island had been warned about the danger and could go and seek refuge.

In 1782, Ibiza was conceded the title of city. Three years later, its extension was divided into parishes and in 1830, the province of the Balearic Islands was created, into which it was integrated, at the same time as instituting the five municipalities into which the island is currently divided: Sant Joan de Labritja, Sant Josep de sa Talaia, Sant Antoni de Portmany, Santa Eulària des Riu and the city of Eivissa.

Currently, the main industry in Ibiza is the tourism that it receives each summer. The 1970s marked the beginning of a transformation which is still under way. The arrival of many hippies was part of an important cultural change on the island which had already started with the arrival of a large number of refugee artists from Central Europe during the Second World War. All these factors have given cosmopolitan Ibiza a multi-ethnic character which it continues to develop today and has played a significant role in its transformation.


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