The Balearic Islands are situated in the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain, and comprise Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, with Menorca being the second largest and most northerly of the islands. Menorca is approximately 250 miles from both Barcelona and Marseilles.
The most famous people of antiquity passed through the Balearic Islands, including the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Carthagians, the Vandals and the Byzantines. Finally, the Arabs occupied the Islands and dominated its seas, and their occupation continued until Spain acquired the Islands in the 11th century. After a later occupation by the British, and occasionally by the French, the islands were returned to Spain under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1802.
Overview of the Island
The history of Menorca is marked by the presence of the British in the 18th century, which produced the colourful colonial architecture of the island's capital, Mahon. Menorca's other town and former capital, Ciutadella, also has some fine regency architecture, as well as a gothic cathedral. Mahon and Ciutadella are very attractive old ports and the main cultural centres, with lovely marinas, narrow streets and squares, and a wealth of excellent bars and restaurants. The southern coastline of the island is quite rugged, with rocky coves and inlets, interspersed by some outstanding sandy beaches and beautiful bays, around which small resorts have grown-up. The north is basically undeveloped, with only the lovely village of Fornells and its surrounding beaches interrupting the coastline.
The population of Menorca is 67,000 people.
A drive or climb up to the top of Monto Toro (357 metres) offers views over the entire island. A fresh water lake supports an abundance of birds in the peaceful nature reserve of S'Albufera, which is under the protection of the World Wild Life Fund. In Spring, the island is blessed with beautiful wild flowers, and the air carries the scent of Mimosa and Oleander.
As the island is only 48 kilometres long and 19 kilometres wide, most parts of the island can be reached quite easily. The roads from and around Mahon are excellent. There are good bus services, and hire cars are available through Discover Menorca at very reasonable rates.
As Menorca is the northern-most of the Balearic Islands, it is usually a few degrees cooler than the other islands, which can be a definite advantage in the summer months. The island also benefits from cooling breezes off the sea, which are very welcome in the summer.
The average maximum temperature and average daily hours of sunshine for Menorca are shown in the table below, together with the equivalent temperatures and sunshine in London.
Food and Drink
The waters around Menorca provide a large array of excellent fish and seafood. Apart from Paella, it is recommended that you try two local Menorcan specialties: "caldreta" - a rich lobster stew, and "chipirones" - baby octopus cooked in batter. The island is also renowned for its traditional cheese, for the Mahon gin, and "hierbas" - a herbal liqueur.