Welcome to the historic old town of Dalt Vila, located on the island of Ibiza. Translating to “the high city,” this charming destination is a must-visit for anyone embarking on a Balearic island getaway. Enclosed within imposing Renaissance walls shaped like a heptagon, the old town has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999. Join us as we venture inside to discover the island’s historic administrative center, cultural heart, and lively commercial hub.
Perched atop the Puig de Vila hill, the unmistakable silhouette of Dalt Vila is crowned by the Ibiza Cathedral and Castle, making for one of the most iconic views on the island. Strolling through its narrow streets, you’ll be able to trace the marks left by various civilizations, a fusion of cultures that has endowed Ibiza with a cosmopolitan and open-minded spirit.
While exploring Dalt Vila, be sure not to miss the Cathedral of Santa Maria de las Nieves, the town hall located in the Can Botino building, which was once a Dominican convent, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Eivissa, and the Ibiza Castle and Ramparts, which served to protect the island from barbarian and pirate attacks. They say it’s the best-preserved fortified enclosure in the Mediterranean.
There are other things to see in Ibiza’s unique old town, including the convent of San Cristóbal (or Sant Cristòfol), which features a turnstile for purchasing sweets made by the enclosed nuns. There’s also the Puget Museum, housed in a typical mansion that provides a glimpse of rural Ibiza at the beginning of the 20th century, the Archaeological Museum, and the Medina Yabisa Interpretation Center, which invites visitors to discover the island’s Arab past.
Constructed by order of Felipe II to protect its valuable salt flats from Turkish attacks, the walls of Dalt Vila were designed by Italian architect Giovanni Battista Calvi. For their construction, Calvi had to solve significant problems such as the lack of rocks, which he solved by extracting stones from the islets located in Es Freus, the strait that separates Ibiza from Formentera, and Atlantis, a small stone cove located southeast of Ibiza.
The space now occupied by Dalt Vila Castle historically housed the island’s government headquarters. Here was the Governor’s House, the Roman acropolis, and the Arab Almudaina, although the surviving buildings today date back to the 16th and 18th centuries: These are the castle, the Homage Tower, and the Governor’s House, which were used by the Army until they were transferred to the Ibiza Town Hall in 1973. However, the history behind Dalt Vila is much older than its walls.
Explore the magic within the old city walls with these inspiring plans:
For over three decades, the Eivissa Jazz Festival has been a cherished annual event at the Santa Lucia Battlements, taking place every August. Visitors can revel in the sweet sounds of jazz from a diverse lineup of renowned musicians, up-and-coming stars, and local artists. As a refreshing departure from the thumping electronic beats that typically dominate the island’s summer scene, the festival offers a unique atmosphere where listeners get carried away by intricate jazz tunes and the beauty of the surroundings.
The Medieval Festival is one of the most anticipated events of the year, and it takes over Dalt Vila for a whole weekend in May. Immerse yourself in an extraordinary experience as you witness everything and anything under a medieval costume change: market stalls filled with artisanal goods, traditional crafts, or men in shining armours.
OPEN AIR CINEMA
For an unrivalled movie experience, a visit to the open-air cinema Paradiso in Dalt Vila is a must. Situated on the rampart of the Bastion of Sant Pere, this cinema offers custom-made bean beds, drinks, and even popcorn! Any movie with Dalt Vila as a backdrop will be extra special.
Historic tours are a must for those who want to learn more about the island’s past and secrets, from the Phoenician adventures in the Mediterranean Sea to the epic construction of the Renaissance great wall of Dalt Vila and the exploits of the Ibiza corsairs. You will walk through the cobblestone streets of the city, passing by emblematic architecture and other secret places (like El Soto, a secret tunnel through which the soldiers of Ibiza could enter the city without being seen by enemies).
And if none of these plans appeals to you, we suggest walking around the narrow streets of the old city and getting lost in its magical corners and history-filled walls.