CIUTADELLA, MENORCA: ONE OF SPAIN’S MOST CHARMING MEDITERRANEAN CITIES
The most charming city in the Mediterranean is in Spain, specifically Menorca. Located at the western end of this unique island, Ciutadella Menorca is a place many fall in love with at first sight.
Once the ancient capital, its remote origins have left an important archaeological heritage. At the same time, it still maintains the stately air in its buildings of sandstone.
Near the city, there is a paradise of excellent beaches and coves and picturesque fishing villages. To all this is added its tasty culinary tradition, based on seafood.
THE HISTORY OF CIUTADELLA MENORCA
Menorca is an island that has had countless inhabitants, something that is reflected in its architecture and history. Specifically, it was populated at the beginning of the Bronze Age, so there is evidence of primitive human settlements on the island as early as 2000 B.C.
There are abundant archaeological finds that are still preserved as megalithic monuments such as taulas, navetas or talayots. This island is an open-air museum.
Later the Phoenicians, the Greeks and the Carthaginians would pass through here. Romans and Muslims would also leave their mark on the island, the latter being the ones who would place Ciutadella as their capital. In fact, the Menorcans’ love for horses is also an Arab heritage. This can be seen especially in their festivals.
From the 13th century onwards, Menorca passed into Christian hands after being conquered by King Alfonso III. But another key moment in the development of this island was in 1708 when it was conquered by the British.
The British dominated the island for more than half a century and decided to transfer the capital to Mahón, where this English influence is still noticeable.
A STROLL THROUGH THE CENTER OF CIUTADELLA
Strolling through its historic center among palaces, squares full of terraces, cobbled streets and craft stores is a delight. In addition, it is a city with a lot of life, especially at night.
The best way to start a tour of Ciutadella is in its main square, the Plaza del Born. It is in the center of the old town and was once the parade ground of the medieval citadel.
Here, the Town Hall, Palau Salort, Palau Vivo and Palau de Torre-Saura are some of the main buildings that reflect the history of the city. In addition, an obelisk presides over the center of this traditional scene of festivals and other social events of great importance in the city.
Then there is the Cathedral, erected in the 14th century on the site of the old main mosque that stood during the Arab period. In front of the Cathedral stands the neoclassical facade of the Olives Palace, another of the noble houses of the city.
The main street leads to Santa Maria de Ciutadella, the main Catholic temple of Menorca. This Gothic-style building was ordered to be built over an old mosque by King Alfonso II.
CLIMBING TO THE ROOFS OF THE CATHEDRAL
In the center of old Ciutadella stands the cathedral. It is built of white, porous sandstone, the same material that is used in the different towns scattered around the island.
The cathedral was built where a mosque used to be. The minaret is still preserved and transformed into a bell tower. It is worth a guided tour of the cathedral because, in addition to admiring its interior, you can climb to its upper terrace, at the height of the gargoyles.
From here the views are unbeatable; Streets zigzag until they lead to beautiful squares. Towers of different churches and convents rise into the sky. And the long tongue of the port, with the wall on one side, is lined with swaying moored boats.
THE PORT OF CIUTADELLA; THE CITY’S MOST VALUABLE JEWEL
The port of Ciutadella Menorca is a charming little port that runs parallel to the more modern Citadel and the town hall until it reaches the historic center of the city.
It is long and narrow, although the central part was widened to be able to moor boats. The castle of Saint Nicolau is an 18th-century fortified tower that guards the entrance to the port. It houses an exhibition on the Biosphere Reserve of Menorca and the cannons that once protected it are now outside as a tourist attraction.
During the day this port functions as a fishing and sports pier, but on summer nights it becomes one of the liveliest places on the island. Dozens of bars and restaurants with terraces invite you to try Menorcan specialties.
Despite there being plenty of options, the popularity of the area can make getting a table challenging. Some of the most popular places are Café Balear, S’Amarador or Triton. At the end of the port, there is an area of pubs with different places to end the night dancing.
A beautiful street that descends from the Es Born square to the port is full of stores and stalls where you can find handmade and unique products.
The cultural richness of this island has also left its mark on Menorca’s gastronomy. Menorcan traditional cuisine is a perfect combination of rural and seafood dishes. Not surprisingly, the sea provides some of the main ingredients of the gastronomy of the Balearic Islands.
Caldereta de langosta (lobster stew) is one of Menorca’s most prestigious dishes. Tumbet is also a very popular side dish to accompany grilled fresh fish or meat. It is made with potatoes, fried peppers, eggplant, tomato sauce, olive oil and garlic. Nor can we leave Menorca without tasting its cheese Denomination of Origin Mahón.
Menorca is also the birthplace of one of the most famous sauces in the world: mayonnaise. In the beginning, it was made only with eggs and olive oil. The farmers and fishermen of the area used it to enhance the flavor of food. It was later when the French troops took this sauce to their country, that became popular in kitchens all over the world.
To put on the final sweet touch, we have the ensaimada, a kind of spiral-shaped bun. Although its origin is in neighboring Mallorca, on this island it has also become one of the sweets par excellence.
BOOK THIS TRIP
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