In the 20's of last century an architect once wrote "architecture has a use and an objective; it develops from the interior to the exterior in a simple and constructive way in search of beauty in the proportion, order and equilibrium". All these characteristics are found in the local architecture from the Phoenician times.Popular architecture is made during centuries without architects and this is exactly what happened to Ibiza, it has an architecture as result of genetics memory.
The settlements in the island are disperse and in perfect connection with the environment. The exception comes with some fortifications built because of the need of self-defence from the attacks of Turkish pirates, for example Las Torres de Balafia (Towers of Balafia): The whole construction has seven houses and two solid towers without door to avoid enemies entering. It is a place with access from the top terrace using a ladder that should be removed after use in case of siege.
The typical house in Ibiza, el casament, is austere and functional.
Constructions are made to meet men's requirements and keep growing depending on their needs.
In order to make a house bigger architects start, horizontally, from one cubic room and continue adding what they want, more rooms, a granary… There is also sa casa alta, made vertically with pyramidal floors.
The main material used in Ibiza is marés (kind of soft limestone) and lime with sand. Walls are 60-80 cm. thick and the whitewashed interior extends into the holes and façade. The rest has the rough stones exposed. The upper deck is flat and the joists are made of pine or savine trees on which they put wooden or limestone boards and then a jumble of seaweed, clay and earth in order to make it impermeable in case of rain.
The exterior part has a porxada (porch) which pillars are dry trunks or stone stalls that support an arbour.
Near the house there is the well (PHOTOGRAPH) indispensable in the island for it rarely rains.
Interior distribution: the house embodies the porch, main lounge which is the meeting and dining room, and minor rooms found at the sides of the main lounge such the bedrooms and kitchen that adjoins the forn (oven) to make bread with access from outside.
The furniture in the house is also austere, in the dining room there are chairs of reed mace around a long table, some stones shelves, corbels and the banc gerrer, a piece of furniture to put the water jugs.
Churches- "the construction of churches is conditioned by the following premises: isolation, fear and poverty", Marquis of Lozoya.
The churches have all the same design and sobriety, as do have the houses. Sometimes, the only difference comes in the belfry. This cult centres were also used as a refuge and fortress in the frequent war times.
The constructions are made of stone, in just one nave, barrel vaults and few and always small windows. The façade lacks any ornament, a niche or some wooden cross at the most. An arcade precedes the entrance.
The first churches-fortress date from the 14th and 15th century, Sta. Eulalia, S. Miguel, Jesús, S. Jorge and S. Antonio.
The church of Sta. Gertrudis was built during the last years of the 18th century, as was San Lorenzo, praised by the archduke Luis Salvador as one of the most elegant churches of the diocese because of its adequate proportions. It has a tendency to the verticality, melting the disposition of the planes and volumes of the different elements which form it, a rectangular porch, a deck in two slopes and a tall and single walled belfry.
Mills- Ibiza countryside is dotted with mills. This kind of construction is being recovered from its state of neglect.
Puif d'En Vals mill is the only one still in order, it is used to grind grain and make flour. It can be visited every Thursday.
Fortified towers- these were used as a maritime control. Although most of them are spread all over the Ibiza coast, we can also find some examples in the interior such as Balafia groups, built by individuals with a basic construction. The ones of the coast were built by the public powers and are made up of ashlars.
To highlight: Torre de d'Enrovira or Torre de Comte, from the 16th century in front of S'Espartar and Sa Conejera islets.
Torre de Punta de ses Portes, from the 16th century. Conic shaped with two floors covered by a vault and a superior platform, it is located between the beaches of Es Cavallé and Ses Salines.
Torre d'En Valls, from the 17th century. It has an lower floor without a gate where the kitchen is, an intermediate vaulted floor and a superior platform used for attacking and defence.
Torre de Sal Rossa or Torre del cargador de sal, located at the end of d'en Bossa beach, it was erected to defence Ibiza port.
Even the noble mansions in Ibiza share the common feature of sobriety of every building in the island.
This big houses poorly ornamented have a martial touch. They all have a small patio around which all the rooms of the house are disposed. Almost all are located in D'Alt Vila, the walled city. The architectural value of these houses lies in the porch with voussoirs and heraldic shields. In the Calle Mayor there is a group of Medieval and Renaissance noble mansions (13rd to 17th centuries) which belonged to the old blood aristocracy that was benefited from the distribution of lands in the island after the conquest of Ibiza by the bishop Gillen de Montgrí.
Monuments DALT VILA- before the appointment of Ibiza as a Human Heritage island, D'Alt Vila had already been awarded by the government as a National Historical Heritage. Fortress city, the origin of Ibiza city, it is an assembly of different architectural styles. Surrounded by walls -dated back to the 16th century- since the Middle Ages. The engineer Juan Calvi, which was working on behalf of king Charles I, draw inspiration from the former plans of the medieval walls, in fact, some of them served as a base for the new ones.
This fortification formed by seven parameters and seven bastions which protected the whole city, has an irregular shape perfectly adapted to the unevenness of the land, with three different levels.
Four gates gain access to the walled city: Portal de ses Taules, Porta des Palomar, Portal Nou and Porta del Soto Fosc.
The natural access starts in the Portal de ses Taules, flanked by two roman statues found in an excavation of the Vía Romana. This gate which leads to the Baluarte de S. Juan is also decorated with a shield in relief of king Charles I sculpted on the lintel.
Once you go through the gate, you will get to the parade ground erected in 1727. It is a small square with colonnades. Nowadays, on the first floor -once occupied by the troops- it is located the Modern Art Museum. From the parade ground you will get in to the Plaza de las Ferrerias and from there to the Plaza de la Vila whose origins date from the Muslim times. It used to be a neighbourhood on the outskirts of the village. The perimeter of the square is made up of the simple constructions of houses.
Going up to the left of this square, by Sa Carrosa street, we can see the statue of the religious and literary man Isidoro Macabich and get to the Baluarte de Sta. Lucía built in 1575 and so huge that it holds musical performances.
From the wall of this bastion you will admire the extraordinary views of the fishermen neighbourhood of Sa Penya.
Let's go up a bit further and we will find S. Vicente Ferrer church as known as Sto. Domingo church. It is different to all the rest in the island, it has a navel with a circular apse, it was enlarged with domed chapels that reminds of the Muslim times, all covered with tiles. The assembly offers a very peculiar look.
If we continue by Sta. María street and pass next to Sa Portella, a passage that goes inside the wall, we will arrive to the second fortified premises of the city. We are now in the principal street of the Medieval city, the Calle Mayor, flanked by noble mansions, which leads to the Plaza de la Catedral, belonging to the third and last one of the premises of the Arabic wall.
During the Christian times, the headquarters of the Curia (tribunals), the Universitat (municipal assembly), the Cathedral and the city Castle were built here. It was also a market place, in fact, the merchants took shelter under the colonnades that no longer exist.
The conquerors of Ibiza to the Muslims, Guillermo de Montgrí, Peter of Portugal and Nuño Sanz made a promise to the Virgin: if she protected them and they succeeded with their venture, they would erect a church with her name.
So, in 1235, they consecrated a parish in the same place the Yebisah mosque was and called it Nuestra Señora de las Nieves.
But it was not built until the end of the 13rd century. This gothic construction was reformed during the 18th century. The exterior is severe and horizontal, with strong buttress, a lack of windows. Only the tower breaks the sobriety.
Located between the bastions of S. Bernat and S. Jordi, it covers the site of the old Arabic citadel. On the basement, some archaeological remains of Arabic houses and Punic wells have been found.
The reforms made on the 18th century gave them their present look.
Nowadays under reformation is the Homage Tower, possibly Arabic.