The Ibiza Cathedral

Sublime, grand, and majestic. This is how the Ibiza Cathedral presents itself, better known as the Cathedral of the Virgin of the Snows or Cathedral of Santa Maria, whose silhouette can be recognised from any point in the city.

Located at the highest point of Puig de Vila, in the old town of Ibiza, the cathedral has become one of the city’s must-see landmarks. After wandering through the narrow streets of Dalt Vila, this building, with its mix of architectural styles and austere interiors, is the perfect place to enjoy spectacular views at sunset.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria de las Nieves

The old Church of Santa Maria or the Virgin of the Snows was built at the highest point of the city in the 13th century, on the site of the old Yebisah mosque following the Catalan conquest in 1235.

The initial building only occupied the space of the central nave, which was expanded in later centuries with the construction of the Gothic apse, a sacristy, the bell tower, and the side chapels.

In the 18th century, as the church had become quite dilapidated, renovation works were undertaken by master builders Pere Ferro and Jaume Espinos. These works not only improved the state of the building but also altered the interior decoration, unifying all the interior spaces in the Baroque style. In 1782, once the works were completed, the Church of Santa Maria was elevated to the status of Cathedral.

This brief explanation should help you understand why the current building features various architectural styles.

Inside, you’ll find religious carvings dedicated to the Virgin of the Snows, Saint Ciriaco, the Virgin of Sorrows, and the Reclining Christ. The image of the Virgin dates back to 1937 and presides over the main altar, housed within a niche in the form of a baldachin. If you wish, you can also visit a museum located in the sacristy of the cathedral.

Catholic Cathedral Dedicated to Santa María

The Ibiza Cathedral is dedicated to Santa María La Mayor, the name by which the Virgin of the Snows, patron saint of Ibiza and Formentera, is known.

Before the Catalan conquest on 8 August 1235, the Christian troops vowed to dedicate a temple to the Virgin if they were victorious. This is why they decided to build this church, commemorating the conquest of Ibiza.

Additionally, on 5 August, the feast of Santa Maria, the patron saint of Ibiza, is celebrated, making it a public holiday across the island.

As a point of interest, this also explains why many women in Ibiza are named Nieves or Neus, the Catalan equivalent.

Visit the Diocesan Museum of Ibiza

The Diocesan Museum of Ibiza, also known as the Cathedral Museum, is located in the sacristy and chapter room of the Cathedral.

Inside, a comprehensive collection of liturgical art from the 13th to the 20th century is preserved and displayed, with numerous pieces related to liturgical art in the Pityusic Islands. Notable among these are sculptures, paintings, and other items of interest. The museum also houses a collection of traditional Ibizan jewellery, including rosaries and crosses typical of the island.

The museum, which opened in 1965, was remodelled in the late 1990s and again in 2006, transforming it into a contemporary space.

It is open year-round from Monday to Saturday, 10:00 to 13:30. However, during November, it is only open from Wednesday to Saturday.

Dalt Vila Castle

Adjacent to the Cathedral of Santa Maria de las Nieves is Dalt Vila Castle, which for many years housed the seat of government. The interior included the Governor’s House, where the Punic, Roman, and Arab military leaders resided.

Its main entrance is preceded by an intriguing staircase, designed by architect Elías Torres. However, for a splendid view of the complex, including the castle, the keep, and the Governor’s House, the best vantage points are the Sant Bernat and Sant Jordi bastions, located behind the Cathedral.

The buildings you see today, now converted into a Parador (state-owned luxury hotel), were constructed on a Muslim edifice and date from the 16th to the 18th centuries. They were used for military purposes until 1973, after which they became municipal property.

Visiting Hours for the Ibiza Cathedral

Entry to the Ibiza Cathedral is free, allowing you to visit during its opening hours. During autumn and winter, the Cathedral is open from 10:00 to 13:30, and in spring and summer, it is also open from 17:00 to 20:00.

If you wish to visit the Ibiza Cathedral with a guide, a good option is to join a free tour organised by companies like Ibiza Fun Tours in Dalt Vila. These tours last approximately two and a half hours, and there is no upfront cost. Instead, at the end of the tour, each participant pays the guide an amount they consider appropriate based on their experience.

To book, simply select your preferred date and time, and you’re all set! Note that this tour is conducted in Spanish.

The area occupied by the Cathedral and Castle of Ibiza in Dalt Vila, with its cobbled streets and squares, is one of the most charming parts of the city. Here, you’ll also find a wide variety of bars, restaurants, and shops to choose from. Take a stroll and, from the highest point, enjoy a unique panoramic view.

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