Think of World Heritage and Rome or Greece might immediately spring to mind. You may not realise how many Spanish destinations have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.  Some of these historical gems are familiar to people all over the globe, such as Granada’s Alhambra, Sevilla’s Alcazar and the pilgrims’ destination of Santiago de Compostela.  But you might be surprised to hear about Ibiza’s World Heritage, and its place on this list of recognised cultural and natural properties.  Culture can also be found on the westernmost Balearic island, which offers so much more than parties. These are the key sites recognised by the United Nations organisation.

Ibiza’s World Heritage

In 1999, UNESCO included Ibiza in its catalogue of Spanish locations recognised as World Heritage Sites because of their cultural value and biodiversity.  Long before the island was conquered by hippies, DJs, celebrities, wealthy families and all kinds of tourists, the Phoenicians made their mark on what was, for them, a vital enclave in the Mediterranean.  According to UNESCO, its “exceptional universal value” comes from five criteria, which we can summarise in two areas of interest:

  • Conservation and Protection of the Marine Ecosystem. Here, a seagrass called posidonia oceanica plays a key role. While this plant is an endangered species in other parts of the Mediterranean (although in Spain it is only officially classified as a specially-protected species), its continued presence on Ibiza’s sea floor is assured.  The crystalline water of Ibiza’s most beautiful coves and successful economic activities such as fishing are possible thanks to this marine plant, found exclusively in the Mediterranean Sea.  On a day of snorkelling or diving, you can admire it without worrying about its future.
  • Archaeological Remains Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs… the island has acted as a base and fortification for many great historical cultures.  When awarding Ibiza World Heritage status, UNESCO took into account:
    • The Sa Caleta Phoenician settlement and the necropolis of Puig des Molins.  The conservation of these sites has enabled us to learn more about how the Phoenician colonies lived in the west Mediterranean.
    • Ibiza Town’s “Upper Town”, Dalt Vila and its walls.  Walking around the historical quarter of Ibiza Town is one of the many great ways to spend your time on the island without spending your cash.  And now, its inclusion on the World Heritage list provides the perfect excuse for getting to know this most traditional part of Ibiza’s capital city.

These historical and natural wonders can provide particularly impressive vistas in the evening light, so don’t forget your camera to capture the experience.  And if you hire a boat from iSea Boats, you’ll get access to more of the island´s historical views, such as the Phoenician stone quarry on our western route.  Dive into the Mediterranean and get to know the cultural side of Ibiza.

Discover our Ibiza tourist guide.