A smaller Balearic sibling to bustling Mallorca, Menorca offers a tranquil escape among spectacular scenery. The coastline is alive with beautiful beaches, hidden coves and jagged cliffs appearing from the warm aquamarine sea, and holidaymakers can enjoy an island that is as rich in natural beauty as it is in history and culture.
Listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the island of Menorca is a picturesque pearl in the Mediterranean, where the two main cities are located on each side. The capital of Mahon sits along one of the largest natural ports in the world, while the former seat of local power, Ciutadella de Menorca, on the western coast, faces onto the rest of the Balearic archipelago.
Still the religious capital of the island, Ciutadella de Menorca’s old cathedral towers over the rest of the old houses. Home to a bishop since the 4th century, the city has a long and colourful history. Changing hands between various civilisations, the city remains a place where influences from previous rulers are visible. Stroll through the historic old town, past the brightly-coloured houses at Placa des Born, and along the harbour, with its yachts and small boats, until you reach the San Nicolas Castle. From here you can almost see across to Mallorca.
In Mahon, start your exploration of the city at the Museum of Menorca. Housing a plethora of unique objects, this charming museum really colours in the fascinating fabric that form the history of this island. The natural harbour and the location of the island in the Mediterranean mean that Mahon was fought over for centuries. During the 18th century alone the city was held by the British, the French and the Spanish following successive battles and sieges. As with Ciutadella de Menorca, the influences of its previous rulers are visible throughout the city. Visit the former British-held Fort Marlborough, stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town and then retire to a café as the midday sun starts to bear down on the red-tiled roofs of the city.
Heading further inland from either of the two cities, the natural beauty of the island opens up in awe-inspiring vistas. Swim in the shallow, turquoise cove of Es Grau, experience the waves crashing against the rocks around the secluded Favaritx Lighthouse and don’t forget to visit the ancient site of Naveta des Tudons just east of Ciutadella de Menorca. The island may not be as buzzing and famous as its larger neighbour, but Menorca offers unique holidays in tranquil and beautiful surroundings.
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