Ciutadella - Menorca

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Ciutadella
'View of Ciutadella on Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain' - Menorca
'View of Ciutadella on Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain' Karol Kozlowski / Shutterstock

Located at the west of the island, it was Menorca's capital until the British invasion in the early 18th century when it was transferred to Maó. However, Ciutadella still maintains a noble and majestic air. Its remote origins have left an important archaeological heritage in the area, which is visible until today in form of megaliths, as the 'Taulas' (megalith), the 'Talaiot' and the 'Navetes'. Medieval streets filled with palaces, churches and fortresses surround this beautiful port and the city’s historic quarter, called 'Es Born'. Not far from here, visitors can discover excellent Menorcan coves, beaches and remote fishing towns. To all this you must add the delicious traditional Menorcan cuisine, based on seafood and fish.

The harbour is one of the smallest and most beautiful of the Mediterranean. This natural inlet is protected of the Tramontana, the strong northern wind that usually lashes the island. This bucolic emplacement is perfect to start your journey through Menorca. Sitting in good company at one of the harbourside cafes, you can experience what Menorca is all about. Its relaxed lifestyle makes anyone forget about the daily stress and worries.

Ciutadella can be best explored by foot. Wandering with no haste through the old city, you can discover charming medieval streets, majestic mansions, churches and a dynamic fishing port. The urban area, a declared historic-artistic monument, is one of the most beautiful of the Balearic Islands. Es Born, the old parade ground of the medieval city is located at the old town's centre. An obelisk dominates the square, which is traditional stage to a number of festivities and social events that take place in the city.

The Plaça de ses Palmeres, also named Plaça d’Alfons III, is an access route to the Old City of Ciutadella. In one of his corners, you'll find a flourmill that has been transformed into a restaurant. In the past, the square was one of the main entrances to the medieval city walls, which were demolished in the 19th century to enlarge the town centre. Nowadays the Contramurada, a very busy commercial route surrounding the old city, occupies it.

Among the most significant buildings facing the square, the City Hall stands out, which is built on top of an old Arab citadel. The present city hall was built in the 19th century and retains some traces of its original construction. Next to the City Hall you can find two palaces that are also possible to visit during certain periods of the year: Palau de Salort and Palau de Vivó. The latter is one of the most emblematic of the city and boasts a peculiar neoclassic red façade, ornamented with traditional island motives.

King Alfonso III commissioned the town's central cathedral in the 14th century. It was built on top of the High Mosque that existed in Ciutadella during the Arab rule. From the old mosque, only the minaret is preserved, serving as the belltower. This monumental Catalan-Gothic temple has one nave and six chapels, including the remarkable Chapel of Animas from the 18th century.

The importance of the city as a religious centre leads to the existence of many other religious buildings of great value, such as the convent of Santa Clara and the Cloister of the church of Socors, part of the old Augustinian Monastery. Across the cathedral, you'll see the neoclassic façade of the Palace of Olives, another ancestral home. The interior of the building has some frescoes depicting animals and a Roman figurine that was found at the archaeological site of Pujol Antic, in Minorca. No less beautiful is the façade of the Palace of Count Saura, whose last remodelling dates back to the 17th century.

One of the most characteristic urban spaces is undoubtedly the street known as Ses Voltes, marked by its arched arcades. It goes from the Cathedral Square up to Plaça Nova.

The Bastió de Sa Font in Ciutadella's center, is one of the five bastions that was part of the old city walls, which were built in the 16th century. The precinct is the present site of the Municipal Museum. In addition, the Castell de Sant Nicolau houses an exhibition about the Menorcan Biosphere Reserve.

The most important event in the holiday calendar of Ciutadella is the celebration of the festivity of Sant Joan, on the 23rd and 24th of June. During those days, horsemen ride their horses around the city centre among great popular excitement. You definitely shouldn't miss this event!




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