Menorca is the second largest of the Balearic Islands yet boasts more beaches than the rest of the Balearics put together. Green and unspoilt, the island is the perfect choice for a family holiday evidenced by the fact that many return year after year. Behind the tranquil image of the island and the beaches there is plenty to see and visit.
The Balearic Islands are made up of 3 islands, Menorca, Mallorca and Ibiza. Menorca is the most untouched island and is not as commercialised as its sister islands Mallorca and Ibiza.
Menorca is a unique destination, and the locals here have a very laid back attitude towards life.
The island is often visited by the “tramuntana” which is a strong and unpredictable north wind. Legend has it that this wind affects the personality and lifestyle of the people who live here.
The island boasts a range of ruins, ancient burial chambers and plenty of history! Some call the island and its ways “quirky” and they would be quite right. That is probably why most people who visit here either love it or hate it, most choosing to return on a regular basis!
Fortalesa de la Mola is a spectacular fort situated at the mouth of Mahon harbour.
The Fortress of Isabel II was built between 1848 and 1875. It was built after increasing pressure by the Brits who were threatening to return to use the island as a base in their defence against France. At this time the British and the French were disputing the naval control of the Mediterranean.
The Mediterranean waters had never been peaceful after the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, and after that, the crossing of British and French shipping routes caused a lot of tension, especially after the establishment of the French in Algiers in 1830.
Before the Fortress was even completed, its technology became outdated.
Then in the 1860s there was an important evolution in artillery technology.
Instead of the old-fashioned muzzle-loading cannons (front loaders), powerful breech loading cannons (rear loaders) were designed, which had rifle boring (a series of helical grooves in the interior of the barrel) which made the projectiles fire with more spin, improving their accuracy. This then meant that the island’s defence system had to be reconsidered.
Instead of mounting all the cannon emplacements within the fortress, a second development phase was initiated and in 1896 a series of coastal batteries were set up away from the walled fortification. These batteries took care of the defence of Menorca's coastline, with their powerful projectiles capable of detaining all types of enemy battleships.
The fort is a place not to be missed, with its intricate details and tunnel work, it will keep anyone entertained! It was also used for the filming of Hornblower!
In the centre of Mahon you can visit the last remainders of the told walled city of Mahon. It is called “Pont de Sant Roc”. You can also visit the Santa Maria church which is still in use today and was built back in the 16th century.
The native language of the island is Catalan which is a very old, rich language. It is the dominant language which extends from southern France, Sardinia and north eastern Spain as far as Valencia and Alicante and then the Balearic Islands.
Throughout the centuries the language developed regional variations which are still noticeable today. Catalan and its local derivative Menorquin, was suppressed by the Madrid Government until the restoration of democracy in 1975, however it is now finding its freedom again and has been accepted as the first language of Menorca to the extent that bills, town hall documentation, rates etc, are now printed in Menorquin as well as in Castellano.
The local schools teach, Castellano, Catalan, and English.
You find that a lot of the elderly community speak in Menorquin and the young community in Castellano.
The port of Mahon is one of the largest natural harbours in the world and is a popular port for cruise ships, luxery yachts and boats.