Mahon, also known as Mao, is the capital of the Spanish Balearic island of Menorca. It’s only been the capital since the 18th century, when it took over from Cuitadella during British rule. Mahon has the longest natural harbour in the Mediterranean. The town is said to be the birthplace of mayonnaise, where it’s Spanish name is “salsa mahonesa”.
Carme Church was originally built as convent, then became a courthouse and prison, and is now home to a market. Menorca Museum, a former monastery in Mahon, focuses on the island’s archaeological history. The Collection of Joan Hernandez Mora, created by a local resident, covers more recent history from the 18th century onwards.
You can hear a recital at 11am, Mondays to Saturdays, on the 3000 pipe organ at the Church of St Maria. The organ was made in 1810 by a Swiss organ specialist.
The Xoriguer gin factory was started in order to quench the thirst of visiting British sailors. A popular local drink, Pomada, is made by mixing gin with lemonade and you can also buy it ready mixed.
In the Mare de Deu de Gràcia Festival in Mahon during early September, the black Menorcan horses put on a show, displaying all their moves. There’s also music, dancing and fireworks.
There’s a selection of boat trips from the harbour and one goes around the three small islands in the harbour inlet. The largest island, Isla del Rey, was the site of a British naval hospital. Locals have worked to restore the building and plant a herb garden to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the opening of the hospital in 2011.
There are lots of options for day trips from Mahon. Es Castell lies a few miles south east of Mahon, close to the entrance of the harbour. Here you’ll find the military museum and Fort Marlborough, built by the British in the early 18th century. You can also climb to the top of Mount Toro, where you’ll be able to see over to Majorca on a clear day. The village of Fornells on the north coast is renowned for its seafood and has a lovely beach.
Posted : Monday, January 31st, 2011 at 12:59
Karen Bryan is the founding editor of the UK based, multi author Europe a la Carte Blog which features Europe travel tips about the best places to visit in Europe.