A trip to the heart of the municipality of Sant Josep de sa Talaia: Benimussa
The municipality of Sant Josep has all types of landscapes to delight the visitor: beautiful Mediterranean beaches, majestic cliffs, green mountains covered in pine trees and of course the countryside – the heart of this land – that sustained our ancestors and remains today to remind us of that past so closely interconnected with the land.
Fields of crops and fruit trees can be easily found in any of the villages in this area but there is a very special area, hidden in the valleys of the island’s interior, that conceals the most rural part of the island – which is not well known even to those that know of its existence.
This place is Benimussa, an area that includes Sant Agustí, Sant Josep, Sant Jordi and part of the municipality of Sant Antoni. Its name is taken from the oldest and most important farmstead of the area of Portmany, which dates back to the 14th Century. Over time it became a vénda (administrative village) with a large population that grew to become what is now known as the parish of Sant Josep.
The beauty of this spot lies in the fact that the landscape has changed very little because it is off the beaten track and there are no businesses in the area, just nature, pure and simple, there for your enjoyment. This place has probably remained intact because it is so remote. It is a huge agricultural valley flanked by various high mountains. The main access is from just outside Sant Josep, where the famous Camino de Benimussa begins. This trail traverses the interior of the island joining up with various paths that lead to the adjoining villages, one of the best known being Coll des Rossellons, which is located at 200m and leads to the northern part of Benimussa. These trails tend to be tricky enough to negotiate, as the mountains here rise to 400m and more, as is the case of Puig Gros or Puig d’en Serra.
The area also has an important creek known as Torrent de Benimussa, which is the main focus of the valley as all the water lines that bring the water northwards are located here. The water then continues its route into the area of Sant Antoni where it is known as Torrent des Regueró. Here we also find the Cas Berris creek which flows south ending at Cala Jondal, from which the creek gets its name in the lower area. The water in this area flowed in abundance and for this reason, many of the aquifers that supply the population are found in Benimussa.
The landscape here is mainly rural and predominantly used to grow rain-fed crops, while in the higher lands we find fruit trees of all types, particularly almonds and olives. Some areas have been taken over by the forest as this agricultural way of life has fallen into decline. However, taking a stroll in this areas is really immersing oneself in the real Ibiza because, as well as countryside, you still find traditional island houses, with classic architecture, thick stonewalls and limestone, juniper beams for the roof and an immense doorway accompanied by small windows (perfect defence in the past when looting was commonplace). These rural homes are true representatives of this part of the island, as it is these that preserve tradition keeping the countryside alive offering a true image of inland Ibiza that exists far removed from the seafaring customs that are also highly representative of this municipality.
And on this trip we also find other places that are well worth visiting. One of these is Pou d’en Benet, a traditional spot where water was collected and which nowadays is the place where summer festivals are held each year, with the traditional folk dances organised by local folk groups. In the past these dances were held around the wells to pay homage to water – a much-prized treasure – and to celebrate the harvest. Nowadays, it is still considered a good excuse to get together and have fun, keeping traditions alive.
Another very interesting spot for a short visit is sa Capelleta d’en Serra, only suitable for those seeking adventure as the summit of Puig d’en Serra is accessed along a steep trail, where this small building is located. The story goes that a man went to battle in Algeria in the beginning of the 20th Century and promised that if he returned safe and sound that he would build this small chapel which is now a place of pilgrimage for many of the inhabitants of Sant Josep, particularly during festivities.
As you can see, Benimussa is one of the hidden treasures of the municipality of Sant Josep. Indeed, you can enjoy some fabulous walks in the area or test your stamina with the BTT biking trials that can be done in the highest part of the mountains in particular. It is no surprise that this unique area has been declared a Natural Area of Special Interest. Why not come and check it out for yourself?