Hidden away in the hills of Ibiza lies the ruins of an 18 million euro mansion. Bernd Steber and Gunter Wagner designed and built the mansion for Michael Cretu, the musician and brains behind the well known ambient group Enigma.
Described as being between a monastery and a castle, the ‘villa’ sprawled over 3000 cubic meters. The top of the hill was carved away to house the huge site that contained a swimming pool, private villa, tennis courts, and a state of the art sound studio. Thousands of tropical plants, including many palm trees were imported to soften the impact of this huge mansion, set at the top of the hill.
The court case regarding the demolition of the property lasted for fourteen years, the size of the property was never authorised, building started six months before the permit allowed and the whole site built on a nature reserve. The Ibizan authorities ensured that history would not be repeated, building on top of a hill was against Spanish law. On the 9th of May 2009, bulldozers moved in and began demolishing the property.
And that’s it. I don’t know if many people have visited the site since it’s demolition, it was discovered by me and a friend whilst out Geocaching. For those un-aware of Geocaching, clues are given for co-ordinates; it’s a fantastic way of exploring. I was excited when I was first told about this. My first urban exploration and a Mansion! I had no idea what was in store! The site isn’t easy to find, most of the palm trees were hacked off with chainsaws. If you look carefully though, and know where to look, signs of an exuberant lifestyle protrude from the overgrow.
On first look, an abandoned Jeep deters most although as time passes this, like all other things behind the imposing walls, will probably become overgrown as nature claims back what is rightfully hers.
Upon entering the site the first thing we discovered was a small building that may have been for security. Signs of life were evident but in a rather mixed collection. A kind of shower at one end, and a sink, with some cleaning products and condiments dotted around.
It was eerie, a motorbike hidden in the grass, along with the jeep really added to the excitement. Another building with a steel door, forced at some point, housed a huge generator to provide the mansion with power. We couldn’t work out if it was still running, there were lights on though.
We had seen on google maps the size of the property, and began the ascent up the huge driveway. It hair pinned up and up, with landscaped walls here and there, places to overtake for vehicles and expensive, exotic looking plants hinting the lifestyle. The palm trees that were once in full regalia, stood as stumps where they had been hacked at by chainsaws, the Ibizan council took no shame in damaging these magnificent trees.
We decided to continue the path all the way round, passing old air vents and high walls that still had imported bushes and plants still on them. Tall pointy Laurel’s and Yuckkas had escaped the wrath of the bulldozers. A quirky tree house sat in the trees and pine needles covered the road, although there were signs that vehicles had been here. We eventually arrived at a small house, maybe once a guest house. I loved the stone figure that greeted you on the approach to the drive. In the front garden, a huge bench and a life-size brass camel, certainly no garden gnomes here. It was like being on a movie set. I had never been anywhere like this before and it was easy to dream of owning this place.
It was thrilling to discover that there was also a pool, and the view, to die for. 180 panoramic of coastal blue waters and in the distance, San Antonio could be made out. It really was picturesque; no wonder Cretu had spent so many years arguing the case. The villa, truly amazing, it was odd that the pool hadn’t dirtied in any way, and the shutters were open on the back. It was too risky to get caught, so we moved on.
Our next approach was on to the tennis courts. Just the one, but it also had its own bar, and fridge for entertaining. Somebody had left a quad there, gathering dust. I think the demolishers were un-aware of the rest of the site and just bulldozed the main house. There was another area to perhaps play boules, or to bring the table tennis out, a strange concrete seat, designed to match the buildings was all that was left. I wonder if it was ever used?
On and on the site sprawled towards the sea. An overgrown path, still apparent led down to possibly a private beach. Waves crashed on rocks nearby, it was too far to walk down there and we couldn’t see any more sign of life. We stopped at every point, taking in the picturesque views, the sun came out allowing is to really enjoy the blue waters and panoramic scenery. It was so peaceful, and time to head back through the ‘nature reserve’.
The final stop on our exciting exploration was up to the site that would have been the mansion. The obvious point of entry was lined with more stumps of huge leafless palms. All that we discovered was rubble; it was a shame that there were no more exciting discoveries of signs of life. Feeling like we were on top of the world, it was understandable that this was once the site of a huge mansion. Our main aim for discovering the mansion was to try and find the box for the geocaching. Set apparently near the site of the old pool, we stumbled through the overgrowth and spiky plants to try and find it. We may have been looking in the wrong place, but we couldn’t find it.
It was time to head back, after spending nearly four hours in this enchanting place we had fallen in love with it. My heart goes out to Cretu and his loss, but the hill in Ibiza can now be re-claimed by the nature that deserves such a peaceful site.
For more images please take a look at my Flickr account.