The Balearic Islands are a favourite holiday destination for many a British sun seeker. Comprising of Ibiza in the southwest, Majorca in the middle, and Menorca in the northeast, these three islands, besides offering some of Europe’s most stunning beaches, are all remarkably unique. |
Many people regard Menorca as being less glamorous and less modern than the other two islands that have gained reputations for attracting avid club goers who enjoy all night parties, as well as a celebrity set who often visit on their huge yachts.
Although there are differences in the demographics of the visitors, how do the islands of Menorca and Majorca differ when it comes to the past? Does the history of Menorca mirror that of Majorca, or does it have a story of its own?
The Talaiotic Past
It is interesting to note that there is evidence in existence showing that our ancestors inhabited the Balearic Islands as early as 6000BC. The Talaiotic Culture, which was the predominant culture here from the end of the first century BC to the start of the second, was the first one to leave a real indication of its presence. There are numerous sites around the island to visit if you want to learn more about this period of history, but for a comprehensive introduction, head to the Museu de Menorca. Here you get an insight into what the other physical sites on the island are and what their significance is.
Dotted all over the island are the megaliths, known as ‘taulas’. The word talus is derived from the Catalan word for table. If you only visit just one, make sure it is the Torralba d’en Salord. Known to be the best preserved, it is conveniently located a 15-minute drive from Mahón.
The Naveta des Tudons is another impressive historical site. Right on the other side of the island, this funeral building, shaped like a boat, is another must-see.
The British in Menorca
While it is true that the history of Menorca and Majorca has very much been shared over the centuries, when it came to the arrival of the British, the islands went their separate ways. Menorca became a dependency of Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, and at this time the British made their mark. Ciutadella, the original capital of the island, was replaced by Mahón and it was here that the British initiated many of the conventions that are still in play today.
The British had a huge influence on the history of Menorca and this meant that any similarities that existed with Majorca became less and less obvious. In Mahón, for example, the town hall is built in a neo-classical style, whereas in Palma, in Majorca, Hispanic features dominate the architecture. After the British brought the Friesland cow to the island of Menorca, much more butter began to be used in cooking. Contrarily, Majorcan dishes, with their dominant Spanish influence, are still made using primarily olive oil. The British also brought gin to Menorca, which has become a firm favourite among locals. The pomada cocktail is the one to try if you fancy gin with a local touch!
There is much more to the history of all three of the Balearic Islands. The fact that they are islands meant that they were all subjected to several invasions throughout history. This in turn means that there are many leaves of history to pick through.
Stay on the relaxed island of Menorca and explore its sites and museums while experiencing its unusual culture and you will not only learn more about the history of Menorca, but will realise how truly magical this place really is.
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. If you're coming to explore the history of Menorca or simply to enjoy the island's stunning natural surrounds, Brenda personally selects the finest properties for her clients and is the go-to person for anyone planning a relaxing break in the Balearics. 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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