THE COMPASS

Stories

Explore the fortified town of Dalt Vila

Explore the fortified town of Dalt Vila

The characteristic profile of Ibiza Town is distinguished by the structure of the historic quarter that was established within its Renaissance walls

Phoenician and Muslim communities set the foundation for the architectural style of the town in its beginnings. But it was not until the 16th  century that the engineer Juan Bautista Calvi, under the mandate of Philip II, took over the construction works that became what is today one of the most impressive and comprehensive fortresses in the world. Construction began in 1555 and was completed 30 years later, and today it is one of the most attractive historical features for tourists on the island.

Dalt Vila deserves to be explored calmly and slowly, so you can take your time contemplating its architecture and historical legacy. It is a good idea to wear comfortable footwear so you can cope with its numerous slopes and stairs.

Although there are several entrances, the main one is the Portal de Ses Taules. This majestic gateway is crowned by the imperial coat of arms of the Habsburgs, with an inscription of the date of construction. Once you have crossed the drawbridge over the moat, you will come out into the porticoed weapons courtyard, where the guards would have stayed. After going under another arch and walking along more cobbles you will come to the main square of Vila. It is a charming long square full of shops, galleries and restaurants that offer a wide range of culinary treats. If you continue to the left you will be able to enjoy a peripheral route along the walls, from bastion to bastion. To get there you should head towards the street of Sa Carrossa, where you will find a peaceful wooded park and a statue of the historian and priest Isidoro Macabich. If you continue down the slope you will get to the Bastion of Santa Lucía, a huge construction with an old gunpowder magazine in its centre, which today has been converted into an exhibition room. It is the closest viewpoint for seeing what were once the quintessential fishing quarters: Sa Marina and Sa Penya.

If you continue along the edge of the cliffs, towards the south, you will be enchanted by some beautiful views of the city’s bay, the port and the Botafoch lighthouse. You will then arrive at Plaza España, in front of the historic town hall, with a viewpoint on the cliff. A statue of Guillem de Montgrí, who conquered the islands under the mandate of Jaime I of Aragon, is a reminder of the Christian heritage on the island that began in 1235. If you go around the town hall, with its cloister attached to the convent of Santo Domingo, you will come across some steps that, after a steady climb, will lead you to the innermost and highest area of Dalt Vila, that is as palatial and stately as you can imagine. You will then go through the original medieval rampart via the Sa Portella gate and continue upwards to the left. After just a few metres you will arrive at the cathedral square, with a number of buildings surrounding it that are full of history: the Diocesan Museum, the Casa de la Curia, the Madina Yabisah Interpretation Centre, and of course the cathedral itself. The viewpoint will provide you with even better views of the port and the Pla de Vila. If you cross over to the other side of the cathedral, you will reach a walkway on the rampart that will lead you to the bastions of Sant Jordi and Sant Bernat, from where you can enjoy a complete panoramic view of the sea that surrounds the city. You will have a good view of Formentera, the tourist area of Playa d’en Bossa, and even closer, the area of Puig des Molins. Just behind you, you will find a solemn castle, which will soon be a Parador Nacional (a state-run hotel). If you follow the Calvi walkway, this time going downhill, you will be able to enjoy the sight of the expansive cityscape of the modern Ibiza Town, along with the mountains that surround it. The bastion of Sant Jaume marks the halfway point of your journey, and the bastion of Sant Pere marks the point where the rampart turns off to the east. Here, in the charming Plaza del Sol, you will find another prominent entrance to the rampart, Portal Nou. And to bring your journey to an end, you can continue on to the bastion of Sant Joan, that has road access, and the nearby Museum of Modern Art. Just a few metres further and you will reach the Plaza de Vila, which marks the end of the journey.