History of Ibiza

History of Ibiza

The history of Ibiza forms an eclectic story, averment of which can still be found on the old buildings and in the diverse culture the island is home to.

Archeological excavations suggest that the history of Ibiza dates back to 800BC when it was discovered by the Phoenicians who named it Ibshim, or 'Pine covered Island'. However, it was the arrival of the Carthaginians in 654BC that had the most significant early impact on the development of the island. They whipped things into shape from an economical point of view, working towards giving Ibiza a more carved identity. They began by capitalising on Ibiza's perfect location as a port, developing many profitable trade routes, in particular, the exportation of salt. The Carthaginians were also responsible for founding Ibiza Town, which they named Ibossim from the earlier Phoenician Ibshim.

Many moons later, in 123BC, the Romans arrived in the Balearics and took control, by sprinkling Roman architecture and placenames around the archipelago (The Carthaginian name for Ibiza, 'Ibossim', became 'Ebusus'). During the centuries that followed Ibiza was passed from hand to hand for short periods of time, none of which resulted in any significant developments apart from a short stint under Byzantine rule.

The most fascinating time in the history of Ibiza in terms of creative development undoubtedly began when the Moors arrived in the 9th Century AD. During their five century reign over, Ibiza (or 'Yebisah', as the Moors called it) went from strength to strength. The construction of some incredibly thick city walls was the main reason that the island stayed in the hands of the Moors for so long. Many of these well thought out architectural achievements can still be admired today. Moorish culture, design and tradition has continued to pepper many elements of modern day Ibizan life, adding charm and depth to the history of many parts of the island.

However, Ibiza's fate was not sealed after the Moorish invasion. 1235 saw the arrival of the Catalans who held on tight to their precious 'Eivissa' and carefully honed it into much of what it is today. Christianity had the biggest impact on the island, the mosque became a cathedral and many of the placenames were changed to Saints names, which are still in use today. The Catalans governed Ibiza from mainland Spain which forced the islanders to become self sufficient and independent. They constructed enormous warning towers when under threat from pirates, which can still be seen all along the coastline.

It was not until the 1970's that the Statute of Autonomy of the Balearic Islands was created, which led to the naming of the Balearic Islands an autonomous community of Spain and granting the archipelago the freedom to self govern.