IBIZA. The most idyllic contrast

Prehistory and Antiquity

There is not a great deal of information regarding the first settlements in Ibiza. The earliest findings that denote human presence originate from the s'Avenc des Pouàs (Santa Agnès de Corona) site, where remains of domestic fauna brought by man provide an approximate chronology of 4500 BC.

In around 1900 BC, the Pine Islands experienced a new wave of population whose origins are unknown, leaving significant archaeological remains on the island of Formentera that can be attributed to megalithic culture. The megalithic tomb at Ca Na Costa deserves special mention. In Ibiza, the presence of this culture is documented but the sites' state of conservation is not especially good. Cave dwelling was also detected. The lack of remains means that the period between 1000 BC and 800 BC is difficult to study.

For a long time, historiography had ascertained 654 BC as the date when the city of Ibiza was founded by the Carthaginians, based on a text by the Roman writer Diodorus Siculus (the translation of a text by Greek writer Timaeus). Nevertheless, archaeological discoveries made around twenty years ago show the presence of Phoenicians from the area around the Strait of Gibraltar. In the sa Caleta area in the early 7th century BC, they founded a site made up of a series of buildings. After fifty years, they moved to Ibiza bay and more precisely, the same spot where the city has always stood, making it difficult to find remains from that period.

Archaeological material has been found from the 6th century BC onwards, originating from the Carthage area and situating Ibiza in the sphere of influence of the important Punic city.

The Phoenician-Punic presence left proof that, since the early 20th century, has had an important tradition in explaining history.

But the most significant site is the Puig des Molins necropolis, where there is a hypogeum burial system: underground chambers excavated into the rock that can be accessed via a vertical pit; different objects that comprised the burial offering were placed there with the buried body. It is estimated that there are between three and four thousand hypogea.

There is proof that Ibiza played an important role during the second Punic war: it was attacked by Romans and helped the Carthigians. All this would suggest that it would have constituted Roman land after the Roman victory in 146 BC. But in fact, Ibiza did not become part of the Roman realm in that year nor during the conquest of the Balearic Islands. Furthermore, the Roman writer Pliny cites it as a city that was confederated with Rome, which presents problems when ascertaining what happened between Ibiza and Rome. What is certain is that in 74 AD, the Roman emperor Vespasian turned it into the town Flavio Ebusitano, suggesting an unstoppable process towards complete Romanisation. Proof of this can be seen in sites such as ses Païsses de Cala d'Hort and the s'Argamassa aqueduct and in different tombstones, sculptures etc. that outline a society which follows Roman structure.

There is little information regarding the period between 455 and 534 AD, in which Ibiza was ruled by the Vandals and in 534 until 902, when it was ruled by the Byzantines. Even though archaeological remains have been found and sites such as Cala d'Hort reveal occupation (such as a Byzantine necropolis in the Blancadona area), information is scarce.

The Muslim period

In 902, a period of Muslim presence began in the Pine Islands that would continue until 1235, the date of the Catalan conquest. In little more than two hundred years, struggles within the Saracen world caused the centres of political dependence to change: firstly Córdoba, then Dénia; then followed a period of independence together with Mallorca and Menorca, which culminated in two invasions led by important sects in the Islamic world: the Almoravids and the Almohads.

From that period, one can observe the remains of a triple wall in Dalt Vila that sectioned off each of the three outer quarters and was recorded in chapter 126 of the Llibre dels Feyts, which tells of the Catalan conquest of Ibiza.

Catalan sources also provide information regarding the territorial division of Muslim Ibiza. In Memoriale divisionis (a document used to distribute the land conquered from the Saracens), the island of Ibiza had five districts: Alhaueth, Algarb, Benizamid, Portumany and Xarch. This division was the origin of what would later become the four quartons or districts. Farming activity increased thanks to irrigation techniques developed for the correct use of water resources. In wetlands near the city, feixes were introduced (which can still be seen today), consisting in a system of perpendicular channels that opened onto former meadow areas, allowing the plots to be irrigated by means of capillary action, as they were surrounded by irrigation ditches or channels. The entrance to the feixes was framed by an arch-shaped doorway.

The Crown of Aragon

The Pine Islands were conquered on the 8 August, 1235 by the Archbishop of Tarragona, Guillem de Montgrí and two noble relations of James I, Peter of Portugal and Nuño Sánchez. The distribution was made in accordance with the men and resources provided by each feudal lord, so that 2/3 would go to Guillem de Montgrí and 1/3 would go to each of the other two nobles.

Shortly, after the death of Guillem de Montgrí, the Pine islands' consenyors (feudal lords) were the Chapter of Tarragona cathedral, the archbishopric of Tarragona cathedral and prince James of Mallorca. This meant that were was a lack of land-owners on the island and that nobility was not established here. This circumstance, together with donations from the salt works to the town (both for consumption and to finance the Universitat), and the special benefits of the Cartes de Franquesa (a concession) for island inhabitants, created an exceptional situation in the feudal scene of that time and had sociological implications that gave the Pine islands a very specific identity.

The Habsburg dynasty

Upon entering the Modern Era, a new dynasty would reign with an increasingly absolutist vision of power. Additionally, Turkish attacks on the Mediterranean were a problem throughout the 16th century. Both matters would have repercussions on Ibiza.

With regard to the first point, the monarch appointed governors in addition to advisors who would replace important figures (three in civil trials and six in criminal trials).

The lack of safety in the Mediterranean meant that new walls were built, designed by the Italian engineer Giovanni Batista Calvi, and completed by the architect Jacobo Paleazzo after his death. In 1585, the great entrance gate was opened. The new defence system gave the old city the appearance that it has preserved to the current day. It was also at that time when coastal defence towers were built.

At the end of the 12th century, social conflicts started to arise as the rural population demand a greater representation of their will and control over the Universitat's expenses. These demands reached the monarch, but there is no proof to show that they were accepted.

The 18th century

This century was decisively marked by the triumph of Philip V of Spain and the establishment of the Bourbon monarchy, which had immediate effect - as well as applying the Nueva Planta Decrees, the Crown appropriated the salt works by "right of conquest". The attitude of the new authorities gave rise to anti-Bourbon conspiracies that even planned for the island to be taken by the English.

The Enlightenment arrived in Ibiza by way of a governor, the count of Croix, who undertook a series of sound improvements; ensuring that drinking water reached Vila and creating the Estudio General in the Jesuits convent. In the countryside, he promoted the irrigation of new lands and encouraged the massive farming of almond trees, using coercive methods.

Another learned person was the island's first bishop, Manuel Abad y Lasierra (a papal bull issued by Pope Pius VI in 1782 created the bishopric of Ibiza), who made a plan to try to prevent the population from dispersing throughout the countryside by creating new churches to form future villages. The bishop's actions involved the creation of new parishes, but these would not become real villages until the end of the last century.

At the end of the 18th century, Miquel Gaietà Soler, the advisor of the Curia de Gobernación (Government Curia), would implement the so-called Plan de Mejoras (Improvements Plan). This consisted in teaching trades and other initiatives in the city and the countryside with the aim of bringing progress, which the learned figures were convinced of. One of the advisor's initiatives is a little surprising: creating an inn for travellers to stay in.

The 19th century

The first years of the 19th century in Ibiza were full of social conflict due to the new state taxes. In 1806, armed peasants staged an uprising and reached the city hoping to be excused from their corresponding payments. Those responsible for the uprising were harshly punished.

Once the Constitution of Cádiz had been proclaimed, Ibiza's first constitutional City Council was chosen in November. Only the council of Sant Joan de Labritja could be created in the countryside, as it was the only place with a thousand inhabitants.

The reign of Isabella II did not bring about pacification in the political arena and in 1835, there was a Carlist uprising. Confiscation had a relatively limited effect on the Pine islands, as there were few estates that directly belonged to the church or religious orders. In 1871, the State sold the Ibizan salt works in a public auction.

Halfway through the century, the Pine islands took on the municipal structure that is still in place today, with six municipalities: Ibiza, Sant Antoni de Portmany, Sant Joan de Labritja, Sant Josep de sa Talaia, Santa Eulàlia del Riu and Sant Francesc Xavier in Formentera.

In 1846, the first press appeared on the island with the El Ebusitano. From the mid-century onwards, political life was limited to a struggle between different groups that were essentially conservative, with the exception of the Sexenio revolucionario (revolutionary six-year period).

The declaration of the 1st Republic in 1873 was received with an enthusiasm that would quickly fade with the coup d'état in 1874. The proclamation of Alfonso XII as king brought about the resignation of several councilmen with progressive ideals.

The changes in the political sphere cannot be compared to those in the economic environment, although it did produce a significant rise in population figures: going from 15,000 inhabitants at the end of the 18th century, to 24,000 in 1857. The population figures came to a standstill until 1900 due to emigration to America. The population growth also gave rise to the growth of Ibiza city, meaning that s'Estacades or the retaining walls had to be pulled down. These walls had prevented the city from expanding any further than the La Marina neighbourhood.

Industrialisation had a very limited effect on Ibiza and the two most important industries would continue to be the salt works and boat building.

In that century, the lack of communication between the islands would come to an end. Telegraphs with Valencia and Mallorca started working in 1860 and eight years earlier, a regular postal service had been established between Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca. In 1886, another service started working with Barcelona. It was in this century that the first travellers appeared, reporting on island life in their books. Of them all, we should highlight the work of the Archduke Luis Salvador.

the 20th century

In the political sphere, the first decades of the 20th century took place in an atmosphere of despotism. In Ibiza, between the proclamation of King Alfonso XII to the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, they always won the elections over the dynastic, liberal or conservative parties. The establishment of the dictatorship nevertheless brought about a certain degree of modernisation, such as the consolidation of a small, republican and workers opposition movement during the twenties, which would culminate in the foundation of the Comité de Alianza Republicana de Ibiza (Ibiza Republican Alliance Committee) in 1930.

When the Republic was declared in 1931, the conservatives were the dominant political force and they won the elections during the republican period.

During the early thirties, Ibiza would harbour intellectuals from the Germanic world who fled from Nazism, such as Walter Benjamin and Raoul Hausmann. In 1933, the island's first hotels were opened and the Fomento del Turismo (Tourism Board) was created.

On 19 July 1936, the military commanders joined General Franco's coup d'état and the repression against republicans and left-wing thinkers was set in motion. On 8 August, republican troops from Barcelona and Valencia reinstated the republican order. The new councils were governed by Comisiones Gestoras (management commissions) of the Frente Popular (Popular Front). Representatives of different trends within the republican side formed the Militia Committee, which rose to power in the Pine islands. During this period, priests were executed and churches were attacked. On 13 September, three fascist planes bombarded the city and caused around forty deaths. On the same night, a group of militiamen killed ninety-three men who were imprisoned in the castle; amongst them were politicians, priests and others who were associated to the right-wing. From that night onwards, republican troops left and families fled towards the Peninsula and North Africa.

On 20 September, national troops arrived in Vila port and the Franco occupation in Ibiza began. This entailed a terrible repression that was carried out in mid-October by the Military Court of First Instance, set up in the Grand Hotel (currently Hotel Montesol). Between 1939 and 1942, a concentration camp was operational in Formentera.

The construction of Ibiza airport in 1958 marked the beginning of a radical change that would have all kinds of significant repercussions and above all, a move towards an essentially service-based economy due to the tourism phenomenon. Due to the mass arrival of people from the mainland who were attracted by work opportunities, Ibiza's population grew 42% from 1960 to 1975.

Anti-Franco initiatives were organised in the last years of the Dictatorship, such as the Democratic Board, the creation of the agricultural cooperative "Es nostro Camp" and the appearance of the first groups of the Comisiones Obreras (Workers Commission) trade union.

The transition towards a regime of freedom, guaranteed by the Spanish Constitution of 1978, would culminate in the creation of the Consell Insular (Island Council) in 1979 and the approval of the Estatut d'Autonomia (Self-Government Statute) in 1983.

PATRIMONI A LES ILLES BALEARS Agència de Turisme de les Illes Balears (ATB), Conselleria de Turisme i Esports Illes Balears Institut d'Estudis Balearics Illes Balears