With its narrow, winding side streets and whitewashed houses, the town of Alaior is Menorca at its most picturesque. The stunning town centre with its medieval feel, along with the nearby beach resorts of Son Bou and Cala en Porter, make Alaior a popular destination for visitors. |
Alaior is liveliest in the summer, when tourists are flocking to Menorca for a bit of Balearic sun. Those who visit in August and rent a villa near Alaior will be treated to a special spectacle: the town’s annual fiesta to honour its patron saint, Sant Llorenç.
Alaior and Sant Llorenç
Menorca being a diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, patron saints have a presence in nearly every town. Alaior’s patron saint is Sant Llorenç – in English, Saint Lawrence.
Lawrence of Rome lived circa 225-258, and served as a deacon under Pope Sixtus II. When Sixtus was executed on the orders of the Roman Emperor Valerian, Lawrence was called upon to surrender the Church’s treasures. As the story goes, Lawrence instead distributed the treasure as alms among Rome’s poor. When asked to present the treasures, Lawrence instead brought forward the indigent, sickly, and suffering poor of Rome, claiming that they represented the Church’s true wealth.
Lawrence suffered a martyr’s death for his transgressions against the Emperor. Today, St. Lawrence is the patron saint of many different towns and cities around the world.
Alaior’s Fiesta de Sant Llorenç is held annually on the second weekend in August, as close as possible to the saint’s date of death on 10 August.
The festivities follow the same schedule each year, featuring both religious and secular traditions. If you’re staying in a villa near Alaior, don’t miss the start of the celebrations on Friday night, when the mayor presents the fiesta flag before the crowds, and the drum and whistle are played for the first time.
By Saturday, the fiesta is in full swing. Expect to hear church bells ringing in celebration (an early morning wake-up call for those staying in villas near Alaior!), and don’t miss the huge papier-mâché creatures called gegants i capgrossos (giants and big heads) parading through the streets.
But the real centrepiece of any Menorcan fiesta is the qualcada, or cavalcade, of black horses - the pride of the island. These beautiful throughbreds are ridden by elaborately dressed caixers (riders), who put the horses through their paces. Keep an eye out for horses rearing onto their hind legs in a manoeuvre called jaleo. It is traditional to try to touch the horse’s heart for good luck while it is standing on its back legs – if you can fight through the crowds.
Wait for the Fireworks
The fun continues on Sunday with a spectacular parade of floats, fireworks displays, and dancing. You can be sure that the traditional gin-and-lemonade drink called pomada will not be in short supply.
Staying Near Alaior
Why not put yourself in the centre of the fiesta action by renting a villa near Alaior? The nearby resorts of Son Bou and Cala en Porter are only 15 minutes away by car, and both offer a splendid selection of restaurants, bars, apartments, and villas – not to mention pristine beaches!
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 looking for a villa near Alaior or the surrounding areas for a relaxing holiday. 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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