holiday to Menorca.">Most countries that fought for their independence celebrate the day they achieved it on their national day. Some countries, such as Menorca, however, choose the day they were invaded instead as a time to celebrate. |
The island of Menorca was once a place where people of the two main religions, Christian and Muslim, cohabited in peace and harmony. It was an independent Islamic state from 1234 to 1282 and ruled by Abu Uthman, even though it was a branch of the rule of King James I of Aragon. Soon after the son of Abu Uthman, Abu Omar, came to power, there was political upset and Peter III, who was also known as Peter the Great, arrived in the main harbour. Gifts of submission from the Moorish authorities welcomed this Aragonese monarch and his 120 ships.
A Brotherly Feud
Peter III visited Menorca in peace and, in fact, had no intention of initiating a confrontation. He was, in truth, on his travels to North Africa where he planned to lay siege to some of the important cities. He was only passing by the island when he stopped.
Despite the submissive reception he received, the citizens of the island were not as trusting or loyal as they initially appeared. In fact, their alliance lay with Peter III’s rival, his brother James II of Majorca. The authorities in Menorca secretly sent warnings to the cities of North Africa that Peter III was on his way and was going to cause trouble. Consequently, the quest to besiege the African cities was unsuccessful.
Alfonso Brings Peace
There was constant discourse between the two brothers and the bad feeling caused tense and restless times in the Balearics. Not until Peter III’s son, Alfonso III, came into power did the islands see any change. The son put great effort into bringing the Balearic Islands into his power and, in October 1286, he announced that he was going to war with James II, his uncle. With 20,000 men and a fleet of more than 100 ships, he planned to take Menorca. And, indeed, on 22 November of the same year, he took his army out to sea. After conquering Mallorca and spending Christmas there, King Alfonso III and his entourage headed to Menorca on the 17th of January and conquered it too.
Celebrating Menorca’s National Day
The National Day, which is known as ‘La Diada’, has always been on the 17th of January and it has always been commemorated in Plaça de la Conquesta where a King Alfonso III monument stands. There is music and a theatrical performance that tells the story of the conquest. With giant representations of King Alfonso III and Abu Omar, the scene is really quite spectacular. A medieval market takes place in Mahón, whose streets are decorated with flags. All in all, this fascinating National Day is a must-see for any history lovers who find themselves in the area.
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 anyone planning a relaxing holiday to Menorca.
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