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Menorca History

Menorca is a splendid open-air museum, rich in diverse prehistoric monuments. Recent discoveries in sa Cova des Càrritx and sa Cova des Mussol have allowed the presence of humans to be dated back to about 2000 B.C., or 4,000 years ago, with the era of greatest population during the Bronze and Iron Ages. The monuments scattered over the island, including a very special type, confirm this: the taula (table), gigantic T's, which still arouse impassioned debate over their meaning. The megalithic tombs, the long caves, and the naviform dwellings are from the pretalayotic era, while the taules, settlement walls, and necropolises with caves dug into the rocks were created in the talayotic. The final part of this stage shows significant influence from Punic culture.

In 123 B.C. the Roman consul Quintus Caecilius Metellus landed on Menorca, taking the precaution of cladding his ships in leather armour to avoid damage by stones shot by the island's slingers. Menorca became known as Balearis Minor or Minorica, while Maghen (Maó), turned into Mago, or Municipium Flavianum Magontanum in full. The small town of Sanisera (Sanitja), mentioned by Pliny, in the northern part of the island, and Jamma (Ciutadella) were also Roman settlements. The mark left by the Romans may be seen in the pavements, mosaics, inscriptions, figurines, coins, and open-air burial niches cut out of the rock. The Christianisation of the island produced an exceptional document: the letter of Bishop Severian, written in February 417, found by Cardinal Baronius in the Vatican Library and included in the Annali Ecclesiastici as an "outstanding monument of Christian antiquity." The splendour of early Christianity in Menorca shines in the Palaeochristian basilicas of Son Bou, Fornàs de Torelló, Port de Fornells, and Illa del Rei (Maó)

In 902, along with the rest of the archipelago, Menorca was peacefully incorporated into the Caliphate of Cordoba, under the name Menurka, and what is now Ciutadella, where the almojarife or governor resided, became Medina Menurka. From the 350 years of Moorish presence, Menorca preserves the remains of the cliff top castle of Santa Agueda and numerous place-names (those beginning with Bini - and Al -), as well as the bell tower of Ciutadella cathedral, formerly the minaret of the mosque. In 1232 the almojarife became a tributary of Jaume I the Conqueror, who had subjugated Mallorca in 1229.

Fifty years later the new almojarife betrayed Pedro III of Aragon, when he called at the port of Maó with a fleet of 120 ships headed for northern Africa. Alfonso III, firstborn son of Pedro III, vowed to avenge this treachery, and organized an expedition to conquer Menorca and annex it to the kingdom of Aragon. In January 1287, the Christian troops entered Medina Menurka, and so Menorca celebrates the Day of the Menorquin People every January 17th.

Menorca's strategic location in the western Mediterranean and excellent shelter afforded by the harbour of Maó caught the eye of the great European powers. Starting in 1708 during the War of the Spanish Succession, the island changed hands several times with the disembarkation of British and Dutch troops under the pretext of holding Menorca for the Pretender to the Spanish throne, archduke Carlos of Austria. The occupation was ratified in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht and the first British domination of Menorca began. There were three stages of British rule: 1708-1756, 1763-1781, and 1798-1802, interrupted by the French (1756-1763) and the Spanish (1782-1798).

In 1802 Menorca finally returned to Spain by the Treaty of Amiens and its history joined that of the mother country. The policy of the Republican and Conservatives parties alternately holding power began in 1874. Unlike Mallorca, Menorca stayed Republican during the Civil War (1936-1939). In 1979 the Consell Insular de Menorca was constituted, bringing about the recovery of the island's former institutions, integrated in the Comunitat Autònoma de les Illes Balears.

Menorca guide

Menorca Information
Menorca Beaches
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Menorca History
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Flights to Menorca
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