It is definitely worth visiting the city of Ibiza during the first week of August, when the streets are dressed up to the nines and decorated with flags. While the day of Santa María de las Nieves, Ibiza’s female patron saint, is celebrated on August 5, homage is paid to San Ciriaco on August 8, the island’s male patron saint.
You can breathe in the traditional and festive atmosphere in every corner of the city while people enjoy parades, processions and fireworks. San Ciriaco represents a new beginning for Ibiza, turning this into one of the most popular holidays in the city.
The procession of San Ciriaco in Ibiza
Saint Cyriacus of Atalia, also known as Saint Cyriacus of Rome, was a Christian bishop and martyr. He has been the patron saint of Ibiza and its capital since 1650, when the island was taken back from the Arabs on August 8. This marked the beginning of a new phase for the island and is also the reason why there is so much devotion to this saint.
This festive day begins with a religious ceremony in the cathedral located in Ibiza town, in honour of one of these fourteen holy helpers. This is then followed by a procession that will lead the saint through the streets of the city.
The procession has as its obligatory stop the chapel of San Ciriaco, small in size and semi-hidden on Calle de San Ciriaco, a narrow and steep street that is located very close to the convent of Ses Monges Tancades, right in the heart of Dalt Vila. This chapel was built in 1754 in honour of the saint. Under the altar and the statue there is an arch through which, according to legend, the Christians passed on the day of the conquest. It usually goes unnoticed, but visiting it is certainly worth it. Oh! And don’t forget to throw some coins through the arch to “call” for good luck.
The procession reaches its end in the Plaza de España, where a floral offering and a performance of a Balearic peasant dance take place.
A bit of history: the conquest of Ibiza and Formentera
August 8 commemorates the Christian conquest of the island of Ibiza, which took place in the year 1235. This meant an important change at a cultural and religious level, and a new beginning for the island.
It all started when King Jaime I, known as “El Conquistador”, established an infeudation contract with Guillermo de Montgrí, a noble and ecclesiastical lord pertaining to the Crown of Aragon, in exchange for the conquest of Ibiza and Formentera.
And so it was that, on August 8, 1235, Christian troops under the command of Guillermo de Montgrí conquered the city of Ibiza and, later on, the rest of the island, as well as Formentera.
Legend has it that, inside the chapel of San Ciriaco and under its altar, you can still see the beginning of the tunnel through which the troops of Christian conquerors entered. According to popular history, the Muslim governor of Ibiza and his brother’s wife were in a relationship. When the brother found out, in an act of revenge, he decided to betray the governor by showing the Christian troops the location of a secret tunnel which greatly facilitated their invasion.
Other activities on August 8 in Ibiza
In addition to the solemn mass and the procession of San Ciriaco that begins in the Cathedral of Ibiza and ends in Plaza de España, various institutional events are held throughout the San Ciriaco day.
Every year in the afternoon a traditional, popular berenada is held, consisting of a snack that, in past times, brought together the city’s residents to share dishes that they had previously cooked. Nowadays, the snack is celebrated with a good dish of paella.
However, the best part of the day happens at midnight when the spectacular fireworks display is held and which you can enjoy from any point on the promenade or from the port of Ibiza.
In short, the festivity of San Ciriaco has become one of Ibiza’s most important festivals and, of course, you certainly can’t miss out on it.