Menorca is an island with a fascinating history. Because it is located out in the Mediterranean Sea, it was seen as a key strategic location and has been conquered by dozens of invaders throughout its history. This includes the Romans, Greeks, Vandals, Byzantines, Phoenicians, Aragonese, Moors, British and Spanish. |
Because of this unusually wide range of conquerors, Menorca has a unique and distinctive culture with each conquering nation leaving their fingerprints on the island. This is evident in its architecture, food, sport and more; you will be able to experience this from our well situated Menorca villas.
There are many intriguing chapters to Menorca’s past, but perhaps none more so than the classical period between 400 BC and the end of the first century AD.
The Arrival of Magón
Phoenician and Greek merchants would use Menorca as a trade base in ancient times, but its strategic location and highly-skilled stone-slingers, known as honderos, made it an appealing prospect for aggressive invaders. The brother of famous Carthaginian military commander Hannibal, Magón (also known as Mago), arrived on its shores, bringing about a key point in Menorca’s history. He utilised the impressive skills of the stone-slingers during the Battle of Himera in 350 AD and famously paid them in wine and women. He left his mark on the island by naming the capital city after himself.
Fast forward over 200 years: Menorca was conquered by Quintus Caecilius Metellus on behalf of the Roman Empire. With this, the island was renamed to what we know it as today. “Menorca” is so named because menor means “smaller” in Latin, while the neighbouring and much larger island was titled “Majorca”, after major (“larger”).
Port of Sanitja is a major attraction here (and not far from a number of our Menorca villas), where Quintus Caecilius Metellus established his military camp. This was chosen because it was the highest point in the area; this makes it easy to defend and also offers important strategic views over the coast to the north.
During their reign, the Romans embarked on an extensive road building project and the reinforcement of the major cities. The Romans also firmly established Christianity on the island.
The Roman’s ruled successfully until the East Germanic tribe known as the Vandals invaded and conquered Menorca. The same tribe sacked Rome – hence the use of the term “vandalism” to describe senseless destruction. The Vandals cruelly persecuted Christians and caused much destruction around the Mediterranean and later North Africa in the fifth century.
Roman rule may only be one chapter in Menorca’s history, but it would prove to be a key one with a noticeable lasting impact. There are a handful of brilliant places to see evidence of the Roman’s time on the island, with our Menorca villas in Fornells just a short trip from the fascinating town of Cap de Cavalleria. Here you will find a superb outdoor museum with a wide array of archaeological artefacts. Elsewhere, Son Bou and Fornas de Torello are home to the ruins of two Roman basilicas.
Brenda Jaaback, Managing Director of Bartle Holidays, is a renowned Menorca expert. From its history to its people and from its wildlife to its cuisine - no secret of the island remains hidden to her. Personally selecting the finest properties for her clients, Brenda is the go-to person for the best Menorca villas on the island. Bartle Holidays makes no warranty as to the accuracy of information contained in this article and excludes any liability of any kind for the information.
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