Ranging from simple structures to some that more resembled a space station than a ferry terminal. In 1999, the Ciutadella Council then ruled by the right wing Partido Popular, awarded that the ‘Grand Port’ project to an American company including the construction of an exterior harbour in the area of Sa Farola, a luxury urbanisation, a tourist complex with golf course and a marina in Cala Busquets. However, a few months later, there was an unexpected about turn in political power following the municipal elections with a new party formed that split the PP and the project was shelved.
In May 2006, the first demonstration in favour of the extended harbour was held with 1,000 people taking to the streets to demand its construction. Then, on 15 June 2006, a strong ‘rissaga’ (strong tidal wave) saw water levels rise and fall by 4 metres causing huge devastation and was the trigger that changed the Island Council’s attitude. After the years of political wrangling a project was drawn up that met the approval of all the parties involved and the first stone was laid on 9May 2007.
The new harbour, built at Son Blanc in the Bay of Ciutadella, is formed by a double jetty with an exterior arm of 674 metres and an interior of 353 metres, which has allowed the structure to be kept lower and will not interfere with the sea view. It has three quays, the first and longest being 150 metres, the second 116 metres and the third 93.2 metres long and can accommodate vessels up to a maximum of 130 metres in length. The original project has already been modified by the addition of two further blocks, lengthening the quay and allowing larger vessels to berth. Further measures will be incorporated by next year to enable the harbour to accommodate even longer ships, although not the super-cruisers seen in Palma and Ibiza.
Although the harbour is now operational, the ferry terminal has not yet been completed and a provisional structure is currently in use. New roads giving access to the port area have been built and the Son Blanc harbour can be reached from both the Ronda Sur and the Camí de Sa Caleta.
The opening of the new harbour has persuaded the three shipping lines sailing from Menorca (Baleària, Acciona-Trasmediterránea and Iscomar) to introduce new routes to Mallorca and Barcelona, operating from Ciutadella rather than Maó. At an overall cost of in excess of €85 million, the new Ciutadella harbour is the most expensive project carried out by the Balearic Government in Menorca.