"Minorca - an island of many contrasts" Minorca Island by ranger49
Minorca Island Travel Guide: 212 reviews and 577 photos
Many people seem to be under the impression that Menorca is another name for Mallorca and think of it as a sea, sand and nite-life destination. Well, for some people it could be all those things, though the "night life" may fall short of expectations based on the busy resorts of Mallorca and the Canary Islands. The style here is relaxed rather than riotous!
Although Minorca is the second largest of the four Balearic Islands it measures only 53 km from west to east and even at its widest part is only 23km from north to south. But what an amazing little island it is and how full of interest , natural beauty and history.
It has no motorway and few traffic lights, mainly at pedestrian crossings. It has an excellent bus service that will take you to all the main towns on the island and many of the smaller ones too.
Even with a car you may have to walk the last mile or so to reach some of the small coves and inlets that dot the coast of the island.
If you hire a car and decide to go off the beaten track be prepared to drive down some very, very narrow lanes bordered by dry stone walls.
I remember being told on my first visit to the island, 30 years ago, that there were nearly 18,000 km of these walls. They are quite low but ofen bulge out downwards from the middle. The bulge may be partially concealed by the tall grasses of a verge - which may explain why so many cars appear to have been scraped along their lower bodywork!
In spite of those narrow lanes driving on the island is very easy - greatly helped by the non-aggressive, courteous and helpful driving style of the local Menorquin people.
Menorca is a great place for walking with well marked paths. Throughout our two week stay in a Mahon hotel different groups of walkers were also based there and covered many of the walking trails in the island. They saw many of the prehistoric sites on the island as well as the buildings from the more recent history of the island, and the protected wetlands of the Natural Park
There are hundreds of prehistoric sites on this small island. Some still waiting to be discovered and researched.
For anyone interested in ancient history a visit to the remains of an organised village that existed 3 - 4 thousand years ago will be an exciting and fascinating experience. It can also mean quite a strenuous excursion over rough ground - so sensible footwear, and in summer months sun protection and a bottle of water are necessary.
The sites generally have excellent information boards and admission charges were either very modest or in some cases free
In all the main towns - Mahon the capital of the island, Ciutadella the former capital, Alaior, and El Mercadol you will see the narrow streets typical of the period of Moorish occupation.
But look out for indicators of the turbulent years that followed as the island succumbed to invasion from east, west and north.
In Mahon the Georgian colonial style of British architecture is particularly in evidence.
It was the exceptionally deep and sheltered harbour of Mahon that attracted the rival Turkish, French, British and Spanish naval commanders who fought over the island for centuries - until in 1802 the Treaty of Amiens returned the Island to the Spanish.
More disturbance and destruction was yet to come from the Civil War 1936 -39 when not only was there loss of life but many historic buildings, including churches were destroyed.
Menorca was the last part of Spain to fall under Franco and it was the resistance of the Island that resulted in punitive planning laws being imposed by the Franco regime on the Island.
These prevented the rapid over development of mass tourism on the Island as on the main land and Mallorca, resulting in slower economic growth but the preservation of the traditions of an agricultural and fishing community.
Development of tourism got off to a start after the airport near Mahon opened in 1969 but it was only after the death of Franco and the restoration of the monarchy that planning laws were relaxed. Development has been more restrained though some of the large beach resorts on the south coast have some ugly developments. These include the hotel at Son Bou where I stayed in 1981!
The Balearic Islands became an autonomous region of Spain in 1983 with the freedom to use their own Catalan language as the Official language . The Menorquin dialect is also spoken on the island.
The Biosphere designation awarded by UNESCO seems to be taken seriously and looking after the environment receives high priority. You will not have to go far to find the recycling bins!
If you would like to find a a little bit of old colonial France near a quiet beach with a restaurant at the water's edge visit
- Pros:Lots of history, natural beauty and friendly people.
- Cons:None really but steps everywhere may be a challenge for some.
- In a nutshell:A little gem that remains unspoilt.
The main Bus Station is in Maó and there are good sevices to most parts of the Island and fares are very reasonable. The... more travel advice
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