Ibiza Cathedral - History and Facts | History Hit

Ibiza Cathedral

Amy Irvine

24 Jul 2023
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Magerius / CC BY-SA 3.0

About Ibiza Cathedral

Catedral de Santa María de la Neu de Vila d’Eivissa (also known as Cathedral of Santa María de las Nieves) is Ibiza’s Cathedral – known for the diversity of its architectural styles, and dedicated to ‘Saint Mary of the Snows’, the patron saint of Ibiza.

Situated at the highest point of the fortified area within the walls of Ibiza’s Old Town (Dalt Vila), the cathedral offers visitors fantastic sea views and spectacular panoramas of Ibiza Town and surrounding areas, the port of Ibiza, nearby beaches such as Playa d’en Bossa, and also the neighbouring island of Formetera.

History of Ibiza Cathedral

Christianity reached the islands of Ibiza and Formentera in the first centuries, though between the 8th and 13th centuries, the islands were under Muslim rule.

On 8 August 1235, Catalonian troops under Guillem de Montgrí conquered the Pitiusas islands (including Ibiza), restoring Christianity. An agreement prior to their conquest in 1234 between Peter of Portugal and Nuno Sanç (future conquerors of the islands), meant one of their first obligations was the provision and foundation of the parish of Santa Maria de Ibiza (dependent on the diocese of Tarragona). As the feast day to the conquered date was closest to Saint Mary of the Snows, the church was dedicated to her.

Whilst the agreement had been to build a church straightaway, it wasn’t until the 14th century that Ibiza had enough settlers to start work, on a site previously occupied by the town’s Yebisah mosque. During this time, the cathedral’s polygon apse and 5 storey bell tower were built, in a Gothic architectural style. In 1435 the parish had 5 chapels, and by the end of the 15th century, work had begun on the nave, ending in the 16th century.

A large restoration was completed in 1728, in Baroque style. A few years later, work began on reforming the interior, which has a mixture of Catalan Gothic style and later Valencian influences. (Restoration work continued at smaller scale throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.)

In 1782 Pope Pius VI erected the episcopal seat of Ibiza and the church of Santa Maria acquired the rank of Cathedral. The first bishop of the diocese took office on 5 February 1784.

Ibiza Cathedral today

The cathedral’s Gothic tower stands in contrast to its Baroque nave, which has 14 separate side chapels, and the cathedral houses many works of art. Amongst the oldest and most valuable are two 14th century Gothic tables of Saint Anthony and Saint Thecla, by Francesc Comes, and two 15th century Gothic tables of San Jaime and San Matías, thought to be by Valentí Montoliu.

The cathedral also houses a Gothic silver-gilt monstrance (by Francesc Martí, 1399); a painting of ‘the Holy Generation’ (by the master from Calvià, 1515-1520); the altarpiece of San Gregorio and the Souls (of Valencian or Genoese origin, 16th century); and a relief image of the Virgin del Rosario (16th/17th century). There is also a restored and preserved set of bells from the 16th and 17th centuries, located on the third floor of the bell tower.

Visitors are welcome between 9am to 2pm, and Masses are held at 10:30am on Sundays all year round.

Getting to Ibiza Cathedral

The cathedral is located at the top of the hill in Ibiza’s Old Town, southeast of the island. Visitors need to be reasonably fit for the climb, and the Old Town has some steep sections and stairs that may not be suitable for those with reduced mobility. Once at the top, there are many restaurants and bars around the surrounding quaint cobbled streets.

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