Mahon Tourist Attractions
MahonMahón, chief town and principal port of Minorca, lies on a cliff-edged site at the east end of the island. Strategically situated at the head of a long inlet, sheltered from wind and weather, it is perhaps the best natural harbor in the Mediterranean. It was occupied in turn by the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Moors, until in 1287 Alfonso III of Aragon began the reconquest of the island. During the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1708, Minorca was occupied by British forces, and in 1713, under the treaty of Utrecht, it became a British possession; and British influence can still be detected in the island's architecture and way of life. The French occupation of 1756-63 has left no traces. Mahón is still a military base.
Approach by Sea
Although Minorca has good air connections with Spain and the rest of Europe, the approach by sea - for visitors coming from one of the other Balearic islands - is an experience which will leave a lasting impression, as the boat makes its way up the 5km/3mi long fjord like inlet, passing a series of old forts, islands and calas.
The life of Mahón centers on six squares. From the harbor the Rampa de Abundancia leads up to the Plaza de España, with the Iglesia del Carmen and the stalls of the market set out under the arcades of the former Carmelite friary.
A narrow stepped lane going off the Rampa on the left leads to the Plaza Miranda, from which there is a good view of the inner harbor.
Plaza de la Constitución
From the Plaza de España Calle de Cristo runs into a pedestrian zone, to the right of which is the Plaza de la Constitución. In this square are the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) and the church of Santa María, founded in 1287 and rebuilt in Neoclassical style in the 18th century.
Plaza de la Conquista
A street to the right of the Town Hall leads to the Plaza de la Conquista, with a monument to Alfonso III. On the left side of the square is the Public Library, which also houses a Museum.
From the Town Hall Calle de San Roque runs west to Plaza Bastión, in which is the Puerta de San Roque, a relic of the old town walls.
The Plaza Explanada, on the west side of the town, is the starting-point of the buses which ply between Mahón and the interior of the island.
At the northeast corner of the square is the Ateneo Científico, with a museum of natural history, archeology and art.
Address: Sa Rovellada de Dalt 25, E-07701 Mahón, Spain
4km/2.5mi northeast of Mahón, on the road to Punto Espero, on Cap La Mola, which bounds the harbor inlet on the north, is the fine colonial style mansion of San Antonio (Minorcan Sant Antoni), known as the Golden Farm, where Nelson stayed with Lady Hamilton in 1799 and 1800. The estate is not open to the public.
Punta Espero, the easternmost tip of Minorca, is a military area closed to the public, but it is worth while driving along the road to the point for the sake of the views it affords of the harbor inlet.
A road of great scenic beauty runs along the northeast coast of the island from Mahón to Fornells, with numerous side roads leading down to holiday resorts on the coast.
Faro de Favaritx
One of the most striking points is the lighthouse of Favaritx. 10km/6mi from Mahón a side road goes off on the right to the promontory on which the lighthouse stands. This too is a military area closed to the public, but the road to it offers a view of a barren rocky landscape uncharacteristic of the Mediterranean.
12km/7.5mi past Favaritx a side road goes off on the right to the modern development of Son Parc. This is a well planned and beautifully maintained holiday resort, built around a golf course.
Fornells, which can be reached from Mahón either on the coast road or via Mercadal on C 723, is a long straggling town of whitewashed houses with a good harbor on the Bahía de Fornells. Many of the inhabitants still live by fishing. Around the bay are a number of attractive holiday settlements.
Bahía de Fornells
From Fornells there is a rewarding boat trip to the caves in the peninsula on the east side of the Bahía de Fornells. The most striking of these is the Cova Na Polida (accessible only by sea), with stalactites.
Talati de d'Alt
A little way south of the Mahón-Alayor road (C 721), 5km/3mi west of Mahón, in farming country, is the megalithic taula of Talati de d'Alt, perhaps the most beautifully situated monument of the kind on Minorca. There is also a hypostyle chamber, roofed by a thick stone slab supported on a central monolith.
Cala Coves, Spain
The road which runs southwest from Mahón to the airport continues through San Clemente and comes in 9.5km/6mi to a side road on the left leading to the charming little bay of Cala Coves, with numerous cave dwellings (cuevas trogloditas) which are believed to date from prehistoric times.
Cueva d'en Xoroi
The main road continues to the holiday settlement of Cala'n Porter, on the south coast. In the cliffs beyond it is the Cueva d'en Xoroi, a fantastically situated cave which is now occupied by a discothèque.
Menorca - Binibeca Vell
A road runs south from Mahón through San Luis and then turns west into a secondary road leading to Binibeca Vell. This imaginatively planned holiday resort is designed in the image of an old fishing village and creates a striking impression, with dark stained wood standing out against the dazzling white of its walls and roofs.
Villa Carlos, Spain
Above the harbor inlet, east of Mahón, is Villa Carlos, a settlement established by the British in the 18th century under the name of Georgetown which still preserves something of a British air.
Southwest of Villa Carlos, on the road to San Luis, are the remains of the prehistoric settlement of Trepucó, with the largest and best preserved taula in the Balearics.
Around the little country town of Alayor, 23km/14mi northwest of Mahón on C 721, are several prehistoric sites, now forming part of Alayor's open air archeological museum (Museo Arqueológico al Aire Libre).
Torre d'en Gaumés
5km/3mi southwest of Alayor is the remarkable prehistoric site of Torre d'en Gaumés, with the remains of three massive round towers, taulas and a unique hypostyle chamber.
The hotel and holiday colony of Son Bou, on the south coast of Minorca, 8km/5mi from Alayor, has one of the longest sandy beaches on Minorca.
From the center of Mercadal, 9km/5.5mimnorthwest of Alayor, a winding road climbs up Monte Toro (357m/1,171ft). From the outlook terraces on the summit there are extensive views over the whole island, in clear weather as far as the east coast of Majorca. On the hill is the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de El Toro which draws numerous pilgrims throughout the year. It was built by Augustinian monks in the 17th century and consists of a picturesque group of buildings set around a courtyard.
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