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G + 19 : From Michelangelo to Ibiza


The Magic Es Vedra Rock wore a Mushroom Hat today at Lunch time


Weather was a challenge today. Windspeed increases to above 20 knots at 11 am. Then drops to low tens. Strong winds push from the Atlantic through the Toulouse - Narbonne gap and the Ebro Valley. Shall we take the boat out? Or stay in the harbour? In the end we agree to go to the fish market, then walk over to the Renaissance Citadel for more photos, have lunch on the west coast and take the boat out of the harbour later in the afternoon.

The Citadel of Ibiza was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999


The fish market in Ibiza is amazing. Modern and not too big, it offers amazing choice. Being a world tourist destination helps. There is fresh fish every morning - feels a bit like the fish market on the Rialto in Venice - just more modern.

More modern but with an equivalent Offering than the Fish Market on the Rialto in Venice


The old town is already busy at 10 am, when we walked over. We wanted more photos of the Renaissance Fortifications. Today, they are a back drop to tourists happily eating outdoor at night. But in the 16th century they mean serious business - life or death.

The Old Town is now a big out-door Dinner Place


In the 16th century, the Spanish and the Ottoman Empire were at the peak of their struggle for dominance in the Mediterranean. Admiral Heyrettin Barbarossa had won a big sea battle in Preveza in 1534 and helped besiege Nice in 1543. His galleys, based in Algiers and Tripolis, were permanently present in the Western Mediterranean. The sea lanes between Spain and Genoa are not secure. Malta was under attack in 1565. The Battle of Lepanto took place in 1571. It was 150 years of war. Lightly fortified Ibiza needed an upgrade.

Map of Old Ibiza from the 18th Century - the Harbour Quarter was outside the Walls


Ibiza's fortifications were designed by the Italian military architect Govanni Battista Calvi. He started his career as civil engineer working on the facade of the Farnese Palace, a Papal palace in Rome which houses today the French Embassy. The facade was designed by Michelangelo. Could not find evidence that the two worked together but am sure they met. What a start of a career!

The Palazzo Farnese in Rome close to the Piazza dei Fiori - Facade from Michelangelo


Calvi then worked in Siena, which was governed by Spain at the time. His work impressed the Spanish Governor Diego de Mendoza who introduced him to Prince Philip, the man who would become King Philip II of Spain. Could not find out whether Calvi worked on plans for the Fortezza Medicea in Siena (built 1561 - 1563), but would not be surprised. In 1552, the future King of Spain asked him to fortify the Spanish Coast and the border with France. The Ibiza project was part of this commission.

The San Bernat Bastion reminds me of La Valetta


There is not a lot of material in English on the construction. Started in 1555, it lasted for 30 years. Continue to wonder why Spain so lavishly spent on Ibiza. With the silver from Bolivia, they had the money. But for what purpose? The San Lucia Batterie which dominates the harbour must have protected Spanish Galleys. Was it a permanent naval base? Or did Spain transport its silver to Genoa via Ibiza? Calvi did not seen the completion of his master piece. He died in 1564. He is today known as the Spanish "Vaubau". During his life, he also worked on major fortifications such as Gibraltar and the town walls of Cadiz.

The Main Portal de Set Tables separated Harbour and Upper Town

Back to Ibiza which already had a medieval castle. Remains of the walls and portals can still be seen on top of the hill. Calvi's project was ambitious. He wanted to protect the upper town as a retreat for people. Five big bastions would protect the southern side, a giant wall with flanking ramparts the northern side towards the harbour. A 6th bastion or gun platform - the Santa Lucia - was added to protect the port and keep it save from intruders. Calvi's protective system was then complemented by Saracen towers around the island. Each of these towers was within sight of the next. In the event of invasion, a warning fire was lit. It was an effective early warning system. Ibiza was never attacked by the Ottomans.

The Santa Lucia Bastion was designed as a dominant Gun Platform to protect the Port


Lunch today was in the western part of Ibiza - just opposite Es Vedra - the rock with magic potential. We went by taxi since the sea was too rough. Still, there were many boats in Port Brut. I guess some people love rough sailing - we would have too.

Lunch in Port Brut - the Restaurants look modest but the Food is delicious


Luckily, winds died down this afternoon - time to take the boat out of its luxury berth. We went to the Sa Caleta Bay, where the Phoenicians settled 3'000 years ago. Time for a swim and writing the blog. Dinner tonight would be in our fancy yacht harbour - with view on the old town - we also expect some rain - hopefully not too early.

Where Phoenicians once collected natural Salt, Airlines today bring thousands of tourists







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