For Sale


Twenty years ago, Menorca only had a population of about 50,000, with visitors boosting that ten-fold in the summer

Visit MenorcaSome of those visitors love the island so much that they have since purchased their own holiday or retirement villas there.

However, Menorca is still a much quieter island than Majorca and has a family feel to it.

Teenagers and young people seeking a lively holiday with plenty of noisy bars, night-clubs and discos are more likely to be attracted to the Magaluf/Palma Nova area around Palma, Majorca, or to the San Antonio region of Ibiza/Eivissa, the Balearic island to the south-west of Majorca.

There are two centres of population on Menorca, one at either end of the island. Ciutadella/ Ciudadela  on the west coast, facing Spain and the capital Mao or Mah, in the east. To confuse matters further, Mao/Mah is also known as Mahon.

Because of its diminutive size, Menorca is heavily influenced by the sea, which dominates not only holiday activities, but also, the local economy and the menus in the restaurants.

Mao/Mah/Mahon [take your pick!] has a very good selection of shops, bars and cafes, particularly around the harbour, which enjoys a buzzing night life when the sun goes down. Nothing like Magaluf or San Antonio, of course!!

This four mile long harbour at Mahon is considered to the be the finest deep-water anchorage in the world, apart from Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. [Milford Haven in Wales might not agree!!]

In the 1700s, this  geographical treasure put a gleam in the eye of every power with ambitions in the Mediterranean and made Port Mahon a bone of contention for a century.

The British took the island in 1708, during the War of the Spanish Succession. Their occupation was ratified by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

The French grabbed it in 1756 during the Seven Years War, but the Treaty of Paris returned it to Britain in 1763.

Then in 1781 a combined Spanish-French expedition succeeded in occupying the island and the Spanish flag flew again. The British took a breather and did not attempt to  retake it until 1798. In 1802, the Treaty of Amiens returned the island to Spain, once and for all.

However, the British and French occupations have left their marks on Mahon.

Walking around the city, you will notice English Georgian architecture and sash-windows.

The local Catalan dialect, Menorquin, which is related to the  language spoken in Majorca, contains many words absorbed from French and English.

More palatable survivors from the occupation are gin and mayonnaise.

Distilleries in Mahon still produce gin following British recipes introduced during the 18th century. Some brands are bottled in old-fashioned pottery containers and connoisseurs insist it is a better product than that made in England.

Mayonnaise sauce or, more correctly, "mahonnaise" is claimed by the Minorcans to have been invented in Mahon.

The story goes that in 1756, the Duke of Richelieu went to a back-street inn in Mahon and ordered dinner. The inn-keeper had nothing  but some left-over meat, so he cunningly disguised it with a sauce that so delighted the Duke that he dubbed it "La salsa mahonesa", or Mahon sauce.

Mahon was once encircled by walls to protect it from sea-borne invasion. A reminder of those days, a 16th century arch, straddles Carrer San Roc.

The Villa San Antonio, high on the hills on the north side of the harbour is an imposing old pink coloured mansion built in the Georgian style [with Spanish touches] and surrounded by palm trees. It's better known as the Golden Farm. Lord Nelson is said to have stayed here whilst his fleet was anchored in Mahon harbour.

Minorca is divided into two distinct geographical zones.

North of the Mahon-Ciudadela road is lush undulating farmland, with the greenest fields in the Balearics being grazed by cows, which are the mainstay of the island's flourishing cheese industry.

Mahon cheese, "queso de Mahon" is one of the best-known in Spain.

South of the road is a rock-strewn wilderness.

The tough Minorcans have spent generations trying to clear the land and the results of their back-breaking work are mile after mile of neat stone walls.

At times, especially in the narrow back lanes, the walls are so close together that it's like driving through a tunnel!

Perhaps it was this abundance of stone that prompted Minorca's Bronze Age population to  construct what are now the  island's most fascinating attractions.

More than 500 prehistoric sites, consisting of stone, have been found on Minorca, nearly all to the south of the Ciudadela road.

Archaeologists consider it an outdoor museum!

Architectural forms exist on Minorca, which are found nowhere else in the world apart from Majorca and Sardinia.

They are the "taula", a massive T made out of two huge blocks of stone; the "naveta" a ship-shaped building and the "talaiot", a tower-like structure, between 20 ft and 40 ft high, with an inner chamber.

Minorca is steeped in history, with endless reminders of the Romans, Greeks, Arabs and Turks, who variously inhabited the Balearic Islands over more than 2000 years.

It is a truly fascinating little island, with much more to offer than a glorious coast-line.

On the route to Ciudadela is Alayor [Alo], famed for its hand-made shoes.

On the last bends in the road down to the popular beach of Playa de Son Bou are man-made caves, hacked out of the steep cliff face thousands of years ago.

The Cala en Porter and Cala Coves area of Minorca have 140 more caves.

To the delight of holiday-makers, many of the caves have been turned into discotheques and cafes.

The picturesque fishing village of Fornells, in the middle of the north coast is surrounded by the huge, beautiful Bay of Fornells.

The glorious safe, golden sandy beach of Arenal d'en Castell is not far away.

Ciudadela [Ciutadella] on the island's west coast is the old capital of Menorca.

But its beautiful harbour could not match Mahon in size and strategic value. So the seat of power was moved to the other side of the island during the time of the British Governership of Sir Richard Kane [1713-1725 ].

Ciudadela remains, however, as the ecclesiastical capital.

It is a very different place from Mahon, which is far more commercial and international.

Historic Ciudadela is far more traditional and Spanish.

It also has a very strong Moorish influence. The Arabs were here for 400 years.

The narrow winding streets are a delight for tourists.

The large square, known as the "Borne", contains some grand palaces, a theatre and town hall.

The street leading to the 14th Century Cathedral, Ses Arcades from the quaint Sa Placa Nova, is the loveliest on the island.

The beach resorts of Cala Blanca  and Santandria lie a few miles to the south.

Cala'n Forcat/Los Delfines/Cala'n Blanes, to the west of Ciudadela, and 30 miles from the airport, is the liveliest resort area on Minorca, and is the most suitable for young people seeking a good time.

Cala Galdana, on the south coast,  is a beautiful bay enclosed by cliffs of light-grey stone, contrasting with greenery of pine-trees.

There are several large hotels nearby. Its beauty makes it the favourite resort of many.T

he beach is broad, with fine light sand and clear, gently shelving waters. Nearby Santo Tomas also has a long, white family-friendly beach.

Cala'n Bosch on the south-west tip of the island is a modern resort area covering several square miles of flat coastal land.

Rimmed by a shore-line of jagged rocks, it is punctuated along the south-facing coastline by several coves and an inlet to an artificial lake which serves as a marina and focal point of the extensive resort.

This marina is a charming area, loved by tourists.

All in all, the beautiful island of Minorca/Menorca is a wonderful place to visit, with  a lovely climate; Sea breezes temper the heat of summer.

There is a fantastic amount of varied history from the Bronze Age to the modern day, to interest the most discerning of visitors, as well as a wonderful charming coast-line.

Best of all, it is no more than about a two hour flight away from Britain!