Ibiza Castle – Castell d’Eivissa - History and Facts | History Hit

Ibiza Castle – Castell d’Eivissa

Amy Irvine

27 Jul 2023
Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures / Petr Kratochvil / Public Domain

About Ibiza Castle – Castell d’Eivissa

The Castell d’Eivissa – Ibiza Castle – is an iconic landmark that stands atop the Dalt Vila, the historic Old Town of Ibiza. This imposing medieval fortress is an assortment of numerous buildings that span centuries (including the Moorish-era Tower of Homage, the 8th century Almudaina Moorish keep, the former governor’s home and the 18th century infantry barracks), reflecting the island’s strategic importance and the influence of various civilizations that have ruled over the region.

History of Castell d’Eivissa

Castell d’Eivissa’s origins can be traced back to the 7th century BC when the Phoenicians settled in Ibiza. Recognising the strategic significance of the elevated site, they constructed a fortified settlement to protect themselves from potential threats. Over time, the Phoenicians were succeeded by the Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, and Byzantines, each leaving their marks on the fortress.

However, it was during the Arab occupation in the 9th century AD that the fortress took its present form. The Arabs fortified the castle and expanded its defences, making it a crucial stronghold in their Mediterranean territories. They constructed thick walls and imposing towers that still stand today.

In the early 13th century, the island was reconquered by the Christians to reclaim territories from Muslim rule. King James I of Aragon led the conquest of Ibiza, officially incorporating it into the Kingdom of Aragon. The Castell d’Eivissa played a pivotal role in this military campaign, and its capture was seen as a significant victory. The castle then underwent further enhancements, as the kingdom sought to strengthen its defences against pirate raids and potential invasions. The fortress was reinforced with more substantial walls and fortifications, including a moat, drawbridges, and a system of gates and towers.

Throughout the subsequent centuries, the Castell d’Eivissa continued to serve as a military stronghold, witnessing numerous conflicts and sieges. Its strategic location overlooking the harbour and the surrounding sea made it an essential defence post.

In the 18th century, the military importance of the fortress diminished, and it gradually fell into disrepair. However, in the 20th century, efforts were made to restore and preserve the castle. (During the Spanish Civil War, mainland anarchists massacred over 100 Ibizan Nationalist prisoners here before fleeing the island.)

Castell d’Eivissa today

Today, the Castell d’Eivissa stands as a symbol of Ibiza’s storied past, and visitors can explore its ancient walls, towers, and courtyards while enjoying stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and the Mediterranean Sea.

Reconstruction efforts have been primarily focused on the Sant Jaume Bastion and the Sant Pere Bastion, the two main defensive structures still standing. Each of these offer free exhibitions, and the castle grounds can also be explored, although visitors cannot enter the main castle.

The Sant Jaume Bastion is now a military museum, and houses an exhibition on the weapons that have been used to defend Ibiza, with a focus on military technology from the 16th-18th centuries. The exhibition highlights how the use of firearms affected the structure of the buildings, and visitors can handle some of the items on display, including cannons, mortar, muskets, helmets and swords. The Sant Pere Bastion houses an exhibition about the history of the castle and how the city wall was built, including a reproduction of Renaissance-era scaffolding.

Getting to Castell d’Eivissa

Ibiza Castle is located at the top of Dalt Vila; the uphill hike is worth it for the views alone from the castle ramparts. For the best view of the castle itself, head to nearby Baluarte de Sant Bernat, a 16th-century bastion.

The area’s steep, narrow lanes are best explored on foot, with cobblestone streets winding up to the castle. The castle can be reached via Carrer Major or Carrer de Joan Roman. If using public transport, take the ALSA bus line L45 to the nearby Dalt Vila-Convent stop.

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