Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture

The Upper Town of Ibiza is an excellent example of a fortified acropolis which preserves in an exceptional way in its walls and in its urban fabric successive imprints of the earliest Phoenicians settlements and the Arab and Catalan periods through to the Renaissance bastions. The long process of building the defensive walls has not destroyed the street pattern, but has incorporated them in the ultimate phase.The intact 16th-century fortifications of Ibiza bear unique witness to the military architecture and engineering and the aesthetics of the Renaissance. This Italian-Spanish model was very influential, especially in the construction and fortification of towns in the New World. The evolution of Ibiza's shoreline is one of the best examples of the influence of Posidonia on the interaction of coastal and marine ecosystems.

The Upper Town is the oldest area, which emerges like an acropolis standing on a headland facing the sea. Its architecture and physiognomy have not been changed since the fortifications were built in the 16th century, based on the military precepts of the Renaissance. The defensive walls and bastions have incorporated those which existed before, thus making it possible to study the stratigraphy of all fortifications.

Ebysos (the town of Bes, an Egyptian god) was founded by the Carthaginians in 654 BC. For 2,000 years, the town and its fortified harbour were the centre of Mediterranean navigation.

The local economy was based on the collection of salt from the pans, wool, and figs. After a period of alliance with Rome, the island came under the control of the Arabs in AD 902. Excavations have revealed the ruins of a strong earthen wall, as well as the urban plan of the medina, which consists of narrow streets lined by dwelling houses with windows looking over an inner courtyard, and surrounded by walls on three sides. In 1235, the town was dominated by Christians, who built the Catalan castle, visible from the inside of the present building, the medieval fortifications, and the Gothic cathedral. From 1530 to 1540, Philip II drew up a strategic plan to defend communications between Spain and Italy. In 1584-85, new fortifications were erected with the help of specialized Italian architects: Giovanni Battista Calvi and Jacobo Paleazzo Fratin.

The Phoenician-Punic cemetery of Puig des Molins (in use until the end of the Roman period) is situated in the south-west of the Upper Town. At the beginning of the 6th century BC, the ashes of the dead were placed in a natural grotto after cremation. Later, shafts and funerary chambers were dug. Monolithic sarcophagi were lowered through shafts into hypogea (family sepulchres). It is the oldest to have been preserved, thus making it possible to study a wide variety of tombs, statues, and cult objects. It has been included in the urban perimeter and has added to the beauty of the site, with its terraces planted with olive trees to take advantage of the humidity of the underground chambers. The Phoenician-Punic Archaeological Site of Sa Caleta is near the salt-pans, and was abandoned around 590 BC in favour of the site of Ibiza, before it was eroded by the sea. Excavations have unearthed walls. Scattered square-shaped buildings were linked by an irregular system of streets and triangular public areas, revealing an archaic form of urbanization, inhabited by a community of about 800 people, which had an egalitarian social structure, and an economy based on agriculture, metallurgy, salt and fishing.

There are also properties located in the buffer zone: Punic water tanks, tombs that extend the cemetery of Puig des Molins, as well as an old Muslim cemetery and the ruins of a Christian chapel. Also there is Ses Feixes, an area stretches along the coast, situated on the other side of the harbour, opposite the Upper Town. It displays a form of cultivation based on an ingenious irrigation system: the fields are divided into long, narrow rectangles by a network of canals which have the dual function of collecting water and irrigating the fields. This system permits an intensive but well balanced cultivation of arid and marshy soils.

Finally there is Las Salinas, in the southern tip of the island, which is a cultural landscape. An age-old human activity has created a natural setting favourable to the maintenance of biodiversity. The collection of salt has always played a key role here, with a system of canals, dams and dykes which formed wetland areas of great beauty and ecological interest, with a specific flora and fauna.

Historical context

Property nominated for inscription

- The Upper Town (Alta Vila) of Ibiza and its 16th Century Fortifications.

The Upper Town of Ibiza is the oldest area. It emerges like an acropolis standing on a headland facing the sea. Its architecture and physiognomy have not been changed since the fortifications were built in the 16th century, based on the military precepts of the Renaissance. The defensive walls and bastions have incorporated, in a much larger area, those which existed before, thus making it possible to study the stratigraphy of successive fortifications.

Ebysos (the town of Bes, an Egyptian god) was founded by the Carthaginians in 654 BC. Punic water tanks can still be seen, particularly in the area of El Soto. For 2000 years, the town and its fortified harbour were the centre of Mediterranean navigation. The local economy was based on the collection of salt from the pans, wool, and figs.

After a period of alliance with Rome, the island came under the control of the Arabs in 902. The excavated ruins of a strong earthen wall, as well as the urban plan of the medina, an Arab town spread over a surface of 4ha intra muros, date to this period. The medina consists of narrow streets lined by dwelling houses with windows looking over an inner courtyard, and surrounded by walls on three sides.

In 1235, the town was dominated by Christians, who built the Catalan castle, visible from the inside of the present building, the medieval fortifications, and the 13th century Gothic cathedral which can still be admired.

From 1530 to 1540, Philip II drew up a strategic plan to defend communications between Spain and Italy. In 1584-85, new fortifications were erected with the help of two specialized Italian architects, Giovanni Battista Calvi and Jacobo Paleazzo Fratin. These fortifications were to serve as models for the harbour towns of the Caribbean.

- The Phoenician-Punic cemetery of Puig des Molins

This large cemetery is situated in the south west of the Upper Town and covers a fully protected surface of several hectares. At the beginning of the 6th century BC, the ashes of the dead were placed in a natural grotto after cremation. Later, shafts and funerary chambers were dug, over a surface of 5ha and then 7ha. Monolithic sarcophagi were lowered through shafts into hypogea, family sepulchres. This cemetery was in use until the end of the Roman period.

The Phoenician Punic cemetery is the oldest to have been preserved, thus making it possible to study a wide variety of tombs, statues, and cult objects. It has been included in the urban perimeter and has added to the beauty of the site, with its terraces planted with olive trees to take advantage of the humidity of the underground chambers.

Compared to the 1986 request for inscription, the perimeter of the cemetery has been added to that of the Upper Town in the 1998 request.

- The Phoenician-Punic Archaeological Site of Sa Caleta

This is the site of the first Phoenician occupation, near the salt-pans. It was abandoned around 590 BC in favour of the site of Ibiza. This settlement covered the 5ha of the peninsula before it was eroded by the sea.

Excavations have unearthed walls of a thickness of 45-60cm. Scattered square-shaped buildings were linked by an irregular system of streets and triangular public areas, revealing an archaic form of urbanization. In the southern district, the substructures of a dwelling house can be visited; it is composed of a large rectangular room and seven other rooms, probably shops and kitchens. Bread was baked in 2m diameter ovens. The site was inhabited by a community of about 800 people, it had an egalitarian social structure, and an economy based on agriculture, metallurgy, salt, and fishing.

Properties located in the buffer zone

- Es Soto

Punic water tanks, tombs that extend the cemetery of Puig des Molins, as well as an old Moslem cemetery and the ruins of a Christian chapel, were unearthed in this southern part of the headland, between the defensive walls of Dalt Vila and the sea. The inclusion of this zone of archaeological interest, which is fortunately in a good state of preservation, makes it possible to maintain a green space between the fortifications and the sea.

- Ses Feixes

This area stretches along the coast, over a flat surface situated on the other side of the harbour, opposite the Upper Town. It displays a form of cultivation based on an ingenious irrigation system: the fields are divided into long, narrow rectangles by a network of canals which have a dual function of collecting water and irrigating the fields. This system permits an intensive but well balanced cultivation of arid and marshy soils. The proposal for inscription includes this site in the buffer zone as evidence of an agricultural organization that has both a technical and an aesthetic value.

- Las Salinas

Situated in the southern tip of the island, opposite the island of Formentera, this site is put forward as a cultural landscape. An age-old human activity has created a natural setting favourable to the maintenance of biodiversity. The collection of salt has always played a key role here. The area was laid out with a system of canals, dams, and dikes which formed wetland areas of great beauty and ecological interest, with a specific flora and fauna.

Justification for being a World Heritage Site

Criterion (ix): The evolution of Ibiza's shoreline is one of the best examples of the influence of Posidonia on the interaction of coastal and marine ecosystems.

Criterion (x): The well-preserved Posidonia , threatened in most Mediterranean locations, contains and supports a diversity of marine life.

Criterion (ii): The intact 16th century fortifications of Ibiza bear unique witness to the military architecture and engineering and the aesthetics of the Renaissance. This Italian-Spanish model was very influential, especially in the construction and fortification of towns in the New World.

Criterion (iii): The Phoenician ruins of Sa Caleta and the Phoenician-Punic cemetery of Puig des Molins 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.

Criterion (iv): The Upper Town of Ibiza is an excellent example of a fortified acropolis which preserves in an exceptional way in its walls and in its urban fabric successive imprints of the earliest Phoenicians settlements and the Arab and Catalan periods through to the Renaissance bastions. The long process of building the defensive walls has not destroyed the earlier phases or the street pattern, but has incorporated them in the ultimate phase.

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