Tucked away in the south western corner of the island, this little village is relatively new. 150 years ago there were only two houses and a few outbuildings for storage, but this was all to change with the arrival of Father Palau, a Carmelite friar who was exiled to Ibiza from Barcelona in 1854. Palau remained on the island for six industrious years and having initially chosen this isolated spot for its solitude, inadvertently caused the establishment of a village at Es Cubells.
This came to pass because as an ordained priest one of Palau’s duties was to give Mass every Sunday to the handful of peasants who lived in the vicinity. It also saved them the six kilometer uphill journey over rough tracks to San José. Eventually, with their help, he built a little hermitage on the cliffs overlooking the sea – which he dedicated to his beloved Virgin of Carmen, the patron saint of the Carmelite order.
At great risk he arranged for his old icon of the Virgin to be smuggled out to Ibiza where she had pride of place on the shrine in the hermitage.
Palau traveled all over Ibiza and Formentera during the six years of his exile preaching the virtues of the Virgin of Carmen, and by the end of the 19 th century waves of worshipers began to make the pilgrimage to far flung Es Cubells in order to better adore their Lady of Mount Carmel.
Although by then the other island churches all had an icon of the Virgin (by popular demand!), people felt that Palau’s version was the most powerful and effective, and therefore worthy of the arduous journey all the way to Es Cubells.
The other alternative, of course, was to go and live there – and thus a village was born.