During the first British occupation of Menorca, Governor Richard Kane initially used the San Felipe Fort as his residence but when Maó replaced Ciutadella as the capital city in 1722, he moved into the Casa del Rey and since then it has been the residence of English, French and Spanish Governors up to the present day. Various buildings from different periods make up the palace, starting with the Casa del Rey, construction of which finished in 1685 and Kane was responsible for extensive remodelling and enlarging the palace when he moved in some years later. The watchtower was built so that warnings of sightings of enemy ships off the coast could be transmitted from tower to tower along the port to the palace in order that appropriate military action could be taken.
At one time the palace was connected to the Treasury House on the opposite side of the street by a bridge at first floor level but this was demolished in 1839. The street facade was renovated at the beginning of the 1900’s by the architect Femenias who built the large bow window overlooking calle Isabel II. The entire interior of the building has been renovated and modernised, with the addition of a grand staircase and the creation of a Throne Room where Queen Isabel II received the Menorcan authorities on her visit to Maó in 1860 and which was later used by the kings Alfonso XII and Alfonso XIII. It is also used for official receptions, the most important being the ‘Pascua Militar’ which commemorates the reconquest of Menorca and is attended by all the civilian authorities and a large number of people representing the island’s cultural and social life.
In the words of the guide (the son-in-law of Colonel Rivas) “the major events of the last three centuries that have to a great degree shaped the history of Menorca have revolved around this Palace, much loved and respected by the people of Maó and Menorca, and popularly known as “Ca’s General” (the General’s House).
Article courtesy of Christine Watterson, Focus on Menorca