Get to know Ibiza’s past
April 26, 2018

Get to know Ibiza’s past

The idea of Ibiza as holiday destination is always moving around the same three magic words: sea – food – fun. The quality of the beaches, the beauty of the crystalline waters and natural landscape are so unequivocally brilliant, so unquestionably incredible, that it would take an effort to find a different interest for this unique island.

Nevertheless, if you are an active traveler or you are involved in the history of the humankind, you may be interested in deepening the history of the island, and you will be surprised getting to know that Ibiza has a deep cultural heritage. First, before Ibiza began to appeal that large scale of tourists it was an island characterized by isolation, which was meaning lack of trade and therefore a poor life. The residents were predominantly farmers, artisans or fishermen. A radical change to nowadays! Going back in the past, one of the historic most interesting sties is the Necropolis of Puig des Molins, which is definitely worth a visit. This is the largest necropolis in the world, hosting up to 4000 tombs, covering nearly 50.000 square feet, from all over the Mediterranean.


Ibiza has experienced several dominations over the epochs. Undoubtedly, the Arab one was the most significant, but first there were Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans. The ancient cemetery was created by the Phoenicians, around the end of the 7th century BC, when they founded a settlement on the bay of Ibiza, which constituted the original core of the city. It was in this period that the lower part of the Puig des Molins (find Luxury Ibiza Villas near this place) began to be a necropolis and reached an extension of 10.000 sq. metersAlthough there is evidence of former human occupation, the Phoenicians began to build settlements and to communicate with the rest of the world.

monographic museum

The Phoenicians were therefore the first to build the catacombs, a few hundred meters from the village where they had settled. At the time the mills (hence the name of the town) were not there yet. In their place, there were fruit trees, while today both the mills and the remains of the tombs (it is estimated that there are more than 3000, of which about a tenth can be visited) are covered by a dense blanket of vegetation and Mediterranean scrub. A place that certainly deserves a visit is the Monographic Museum, where funeral items were found and cataloged during the archaeological excavations. Among the objects shown are lead and bronze tools, jewels like necklaces, mirrors, amulets, ceramics, carved busts, coins, weapons and even decorated ostrich eggs. Nowadays they all represent important tools to give the possibility of obtaining valuable information on the different status of the buried dead.

The Museum is new and bright and the exhibition is organized over five salons, covering the whole period of use of the necropolis, from the question of death in the Phoenician period, including funeral rites, burials and cenotaphs, to Punic funeral rituals. This culture was remarkably dedicated to the notion of the funeral and the related rites, from the preparation of the body to the burial linked to the after death cults. One of the most valued discoveries at the necropolis, and now kept at the museum, was the bust of the goddess Tanit, also spelled Tinithor Tinnit. She was the Carthaginian goddess of fertility and a around 600 B.C. they established a cult on Ibiza in her honor.

sa punta restaurant

Outside the museum are the relics of the burial caves, some of which you can get into, for a deeper look, discovering a real fascinating world…

It is an underground trip going down the holes or tunnels, to explore some of the tombs. This is probably the most interesting part, especially for kids, (hard hats are provided and quite useful, due to the low hard ceilings). You enter the tombs via a wooden staircase and lighting is quite low, adding to the atmosphere, but becoming even a bit challenging. In the Museum you can learn a lot about burial rituals from Phoenician and Roman times on Ibiza and there are lots of interesting recuperated fragments from the burial site. Visitors will find informative multi-language video’s, that you can find in each room to explain the era and their burial beliefs. These are quite useful, as the labelling is in Spanish and Catalan. There is also a room devoted to the Roman funeral ceremonies in Ibiza, from the early imperial period until the end of late-antiquity, and another one showing the Sainz de la Cuesta collection, formed by a bunch that Rafael Sainz de la Cuesta acquired in 1945 from the heirs of Joan Roman Calbet, director and patron of the Ebusitan Archeological Society.

Anyway, the whole museum orbits around death, beliefs and funeral rituals of the different cultures.  The necropolis is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site “Ibiza, biodiversity and culture”, which was started by UNESCO in 1999. For this reason the site is also always under improvement and works are constantly going on, so that you may be even interested in going back a second time to just to see how far the tombs actually went.  While you are discovering this enchanting world you may forget to be just a few steps away from the winding streets of Dalt Vila (the name means “Upper town”) but it feels like you completely left the city and travelled back in time. Dalt Vila is worth a visit as well. It is considered the Arab hearth of Ibiza, and is nowadays a beautiful setting of the artistic, social and cultural life of Ibiza. If you want to recover from the Necropolis tour – which may result an intensive one – we would suggest a stop at the restaurant Sa Punta, in Talamanca, a rooftop restaurant offering Lebanese cuisine and an extravagant Asian bar, with the best view of Dalt Vila while you are enjoying your meal from an outdoor table.

Simply fascinating…

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