Know Menorca

Historic Menorca

Menorca has a very colourful history and has had many influences from its past invaders.  The first came from Spain in The Bronze Age, when stone structures were built, that are still visible today, known as the Talayotic period.  

Then came the Phoenicians, followed by the Greeks that wanted to extend their trading posts.  A succession of occupiers followed, with the The Romans in 123 BC, following The Byzantine Empire, who started the Muslim domination and then invasion by the Catalans in 1287.  Menorca then went into decline until the middle ages.

By the 16th century Menorca was attacked by the Turks who raised Ciutadella to the ground and the population was either massacred or dispersed as slaves.

In 1708 the British troops landed and 4 years later it was ceded to Great Britain.

Brigadier General Richard Kane succeeded in making Maó the capital.  Due to the large natural harbour it was ideal for the British fleet of ships.  He was responsible for building roads, hospitals, braking up the inquisition and moderating the church.

Who was Richard Kane: Richard Kane on Wikipedia

In 1756 the French beat the English to a retreat and for the next 50 years or so the island was ruled by both the English and French in separate periods.  In 1802 Menorca was handed back to Spain and Menorca continued to flourish.  The British left a big impact on the island with influences of architecture, language, food, songs and gin!

Interesting British surviving words in the local “Menorquin” language:

grevi(gravy) botil(bottle) peni(penny) berguin(bargin) xumaquer (shoemaker ) pudin(pudding)ron (rum) boinder (bow winder) sedon( sit-down)

In the 20th century during the time of the Spanish Civil War,  Menorca gave it’s support to the Republican Army.  When the Nationalist troops entered in 1939 the island suffered bloodshed and hardship.  It is said that Menorca was punished for it’s support of the Republicans, which resulted in Franco`s Government withholding money for commercial infrastructure.  

That said, without this withheld development of infrastructure, Menorca wouldn’t look like it does today with its beautiful pristine coastline alongside natural undeveloped countryside.  It truly looks and feels like something from a bygone age.  Nature and Tourism now coexist side by side, with no high-rise hotels that obscure the view of nature.  The Menorca people are very proud and fight hard to keep the island in this undeveloped way.

Here you can watch an old film of Menorca dating back to 1954:

British Route

The British ruled the island of Menorca for over a century.  They left their mark in the Architecture, language and even some of the food and drink has been influenced by the British.

Once the British established themselves on the island Maó became the capital and you can see the evidence of British ruling as you walk around the town ,take a tour boat around the port or visit the many landmarks that are from that period.

The official Menorca website gives you all the information on The British Route and the various sites where the British left their mark.  Information about opening times and maps can also be found.

Menorca Life Recommends:Visiting these historic sites:

  • Isla Del Rey  (The old Military Hospital) on the Maó Port.
  • Fort Marlborugh in Cala de Sant Esteve .
  • Sant Felip Castle in Es Castell
  • Fornells Coastal Tower in Fornells. is a website dedicated to the history and cultural events.  A really interesting read if you want to find out more about the British influences and you can subscribe to their newsletter too.  They hold reenactments and often have opportunities to visit places that are generally not open to the public.

Historic Museums

There are many museums throughout Menorca some are in Historical buildings, in religious buildings and even old houses.  Here are a few of the main places of historical interest to discover on the island. 

Visit for a full list of Menorca’s Museums and information on opening times, prices and direct links to individual websites on the map.  

Hernández Sanz – Hernández Mora Collection

Is situated in the centre of Maó.  It was the home of the Oliver family and it’s interior stands out for it’s Bourgeoisie style of decoration.  There are beautifully restored paintings that adorn the ceilings.  It houses an impressive collection of donated artworks and a wonderful review of British life during the 18th and 19th century.

For more information visit Hernández Sanz-Hernandez Mora Collection

Isla Del Rey

It was built as a hospital in 1711.  It gradually fell into disrepair but in 2004 it was  handed over to “The Foundation Hospital De Isla Del Rey” with it’s band of volunteers and though sponsorships, they are still in the process of restoring it today.  

2021 sees an exciting addition to Isla del Rey with Hauser & Wirth opening 1.500 square meters of gallery space dedicated to housing artwork and sculptures by well known artists. 

Ses Pedrers De S’Hostal Lithica

Less than one mile from Ciutadella, below the surface, is Lithica.

Originally an excavation site believed to be more than 200 years old the Sandstone blocks, known locally as Mares, were carved out to build the old houses and buildings that are still apparent all over Menorca today.  This site only finished excavations in the 1990’s.

The site was due to be filled in with rubble, until it was spotted by the Italian Sculptress Laetitia Sauleau who spotted the beauty of the place and saw the value of it being repurposed.  In 1994, along with other enthusiasts, she headed the group and founded The Lithica Cultural Society.  Their aim was to preserve the site keeping the essence of the how man had shaped the stone.  They worked to preserve the site creating gardens, orchards and even a Labyrinth, making a cohesive connection from past to present.

In 2012 the Fundacío Lithica-Pedreres de S’Hostal was formed converting the site for Cultural activity.  There hold Sculpture and Artistic workshops, along with various day and night activities, including concerts that are held in the evenings during the summer months.

You can visit their website for more information on the history of the site, opening times and up and coming events: 

Castillo De Sant Felipe

Located at the south side to the entrance of Mahon Harbour, the castle was built halfway through the 16th century to protect the island from many attacks, specifically from Turkish fleets that attacked twice in a period of 20 years.

It was used throughout the years by the various ruling countries.  During the first period of British ruling, it was used as a naval arsenal to support the other British colony in Spanish territory, Gibraltar. 

Menorca had many power struggles throughout the next Century or so, but finally in 1802 the Treaty of Amiens was signed and Menorca was handed back to the Spanish.  In 1805 what was left of the Castle was demolished.  What remains today is the silhouette of the layout of the castle and over the years the underground galleries have been renovated by The Military Museum of Menorca consortium.

Nowadays, visitors can experience a re-enactment to take them back to the time when San Felipe was under siege and to describe the history of both Menorca and Europe throughout the upheavals of the 18th century.  It includes uniformed soldiers and special technological effects.  

For more information visit their website:

Fort Malborough

A small fort, with a heptagonal central enclosure that was once equipped with several artillery guns for defending against possible enemy attacks.  The upper level provides exceptional views over the historic area of Mahon Harbour, undoubtedly one of the most coveted in the western Mediterranean by foreign powers. 

The fort was manned by one captain, 50 infantrymen and 15 gunners. The infantrymen defended the moat from the embrasures, while the gunners manned the cannons on the top platform.  Today the fort has an interesting exhibition that uses technology to transport visitors back to the 18th century. 

For more information 

Monte Toro

Monte Toro is the highest point of Menorca with a height of 365 meters and home to a sanctuary and convent dedicated to Señora de Monte Toro. The medieval sanctuary and convent has references dating back in records from as early as 1291.  It was rebuilt in the 17th century on the site of an old Gothic church.  

Inside of the church there is a reproduction of the cave, where legend says, the statue was said to have been discovered by a monk of the Order of Santa Maria de la Merced, who had been with King Alfonso III when he invaded the island in 1287.  The monk saw a strange light on top of the hill and with other friars, set off to investigate.  They were suddenly confronted by an angry bull.  Somehow the monk and the friars managed to pacify the bull with their crucifixes to such an extent that the animal turned around and showed them the best way to the top of the mountain, moving boulders out of their path.  Legend has it that at the summit, the animal bowed at an entrance to a cave, inside was there appeared an image of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus in her arms.  Every 8th of May they celebrate this event with a Fiesta de la Virgin del Toro.

For more detailed history check out

La Mola

A visit to La Mola is a must for anybody that loves Forts and Military buildings.  It is an ideal trip for all the family and easily fills a cloudy morning when you can’t get to the beach.  Situated at the head of the Port of Mahon it stands one of the best examples of 19th century Military Architecture, which was ordered to be built by Queen Isabella IIbetween 1850 -1875.  Nowadays, the Fort is a museum and events space, that hosts weddings, equestrian shows, concerts and festivals. 

You can book guided tours or tour by electric bikes and buggies directly on their website


A short boat trip from the beautiful cove of Cales Fonts, will take you across to El Latzareto.

The hospital was first ordered to be constructed by the Count of Floribunda who

was Charles IIIPrime Minister of Spain.  It was mainly used for victims of the plague, but it also became used as a quarantine station for the ships that had passengers who were suspected of carrying Cholera or Yellow Fever.  They stayed on the island of El Latzareto for a few months until they were no longer contagious.  The hospital took it’s first patients in 1817 and still in use up until 1971.

Nowadays the Hospital is used as a conference centre and a museum, where

guided tours are available by appointment only.

Tour guide information available at

Menorca Live Recommends:

A great article written about El Latzareto


Menorca Live Recommends:

For an authentic rural experience of traditional Menorcan life visit Binissues 

Step back in time through a descriptive Museum with regular weekly reenactments and learn about rural life in Menorca and working on the land.  It is ideal for families as it is very interactive.  There is also a lovely traditional restaurant in a beautiful countryside setting.  They offer traditional local dishes and a daily set Menu, know as Menu del Dia.