Puig des Molins Museum-Necropolis - History and Facts | History Hit

Puig des Molins Museum-Necropolis

Amy Irvine

24 Jul 2023
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / JanManu / CC BY-SA 4.0

About Puig des Molins Museum-Necropolis

Puig des Molins is one of the largest and best-preserved necropolises in the Mediterranean area – and indeed the world. There are almost 3,000 burial tombs across 5 hectares, with some graves dating back to 7th century BC where thousands of ancient Ibizan residents were buried or cremated.

Boasting the world’s finest collection of Punic remains, the necropolis is one of the sites that led to Ibiza’s Old Town World Heritage status. Along with its accompanying museum, it’s a must see.

History of Puig des Molins

Ibiza, known as Ebysos in ancient Phoenician times, has a rich history as an important Mediterranean harbour. Over the centuries, it has been inhabited by various civilisations, attracting people from different nations and cultures.

Puig des Molins, located 500 metres west of Puig de Vila, has served as the city’s cemetery since its foundation. It was used for burials from the 7th century BC until around 700 AD and contains the remains of Phoenicians, Punics and Romans. The area was later utilised for agriculture, with olive, almond, carob and fig trees planted on the hillside. Windmills were also constructed there from the 15th century onwards, giving the site its name (‘Molins’). Today, only two of the windmills remain visible, and the hillside is part of the Archaeological Museum of Ibiza and Formentera.

Despite the seemingly unimpressive appearance of the rocky hillside, the Necropolis holds around 3,000 tombs at the site solely from the Punic era. However, only 340 are visible from the outside, carved out of rock. (The ‘Mule Hypogea’ tombs, unearthed by accident in 1946, are the only ones open to visitors).

The museum:

After King Alfonso XIII’s visit to Ibiza in 1929, the Puig des Molins necropolis was declared a Historic and Artistic Monument under the Republic on 3 June 1931. Plans were made to construct a new museum building (The Puig des Molins’ Monographic Museum) to house the important archaeological artefacts that were previously crammed in the Dalt Vila building, the archaeological museum headquarters since 1907. However, due to disruptions caused by the Spanish Civil War and World War Two, construction wasn’t completed until 1965.

It soon became evident that the new building didn’t have the necessary capacity. As a result, the Dalt Vila’s museum remained a general museum, while the new building became dedicated solely to the Puig des Molins necropolis, opening in 1966.

Over the years the museum building has been restored and expanded, with the aim of offering visitors an immersive experience into the mindsets of the people who inhabited ancient Ibiza, particularly in their understanding of death. The graves and artefacts excavated from the necropolis and displayed in the museum have provided valuable insights into how various civilisations prepared, buried and honoured their dead, leading the site to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

Puig des Molins today

Visitors to the necropolis may find it hard to grasp the vast size of the cemetery, yet have the opportunity to view some excavated areas, burial pits, caverns and tombs. Descending into the underground caves, visitors can explore funeral chambers, stone coffins and sarcophagi.

Whilst only a few of the tombs are open to the public, the accompanying museum provides a comprehensive understanding of the site. The museum is divided into 5 rooms, arranged chronologically from the Phoenician era in 625 BC, through the Punics, to Roman burials (up to 700 AD). Information sheets describe the burial rites of each civilisation, and the rooms showcase a remarkable collection of artefacts discovered in the graves since the first excavations in 1903. These include amulets, jewellery, semi-precious stones, terracotta figures, coins, pottery, statues, glass vials and oil burning lamps.

The final room displays the personal collection of Rafael Sainz de la Cuesta, an archaeology enthusiast from Madrid, who collected historical pieces from various locations on the island during his visits to Ibiza. After his death, his family donated the collection to the state.

Getting to Puig des Molins

Puig des Molins is located just outside Ibiza’s Old Town, at Calle Vía Romana 31, 07800  Eivissa. Entry to the museum costs 2.40 Euros; it is open for several hours each day except on Monday’s and bank holidays, while the cemetery remains open all times.

Featured In

Historic sites in Ibiza

A guide to some of the top historic sites in Ibiza, from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old Town of Dalt Vila to the islands rich archaeological sites and multiple Pirate Towers.