Saturday, 26 May 2018

Menorca: Ciutadella de Menorca

 The Town Hall (Ajuntament)

We are in Menorca for a few days, stayimg in Ciutadella. This walk around the town comes from the excellent book Walk! Menorca by David and Ros Brawn. It starts at Placa Esplanada, a large leafy square where today there is an open-air chess tournament for kids going on. It made a fine sight.

We cross from there into the Placa d'es Born where the splendid Gothic Town Hall dominates the left hand side. In the centre of the square is a grand obelsisk which commemorates the almost complete destruction of the town by Turkish invaders in 1558.

What were they doing there I wondered? Apparently the Balaeric islands had been subject many such raids in the past. This one came about because the Ottoman Empire was allied at the time with the French against the Habsburgs (who ruled Spain at the time). The raids only ended after the Turkish defeat at Lepanto in 1571.

There is a nice view over the small harbour.

Opposite the Ajuntament is the handsome Palau Torresaura with its twin loggias.

On the corner of the square is one of the few Gothic buildings to have survived the Turkish raid, the Eglesia de Sant Francesc. The solidly built interior is quite imposing.

We followed the route through winding streets passing the 17th century Casa Saura with a wonderfully carved overhanging roof.

Soon we reached the central market (1868) in Plaza de la Libertad.

Then we passed the rather beautiful doorway of a small Baroque chapel (the Capella de Sant Crist, 1667)  ....

... and a little further on, another lovely loggia in beautiful reddish stone.

More narrow streets brought us to the Convent Santa Clara. It was much restored, but with a lovely courtyard in front of it.

Now down the narrowest street so far, the wonderfully named Carrer Qui No Passa (the street that no one may go down?). It was indeed quite narrow and lacking in people.

This eventually led us to the Bishop's Palace, where to gate was open to a delightful courtyard.

Then a priest arrived with a cameraman in tow. He greeted us courteously, but we felt it was time to leave and we headed round to the adjacent Cathedral.

Inside was spacious but quite plain. The roof bosses were interesting, but we couldn’t quite work out what they signified.

The entrance ticket also offered the opportunity to see the Baroque Convent xx, principally famous for its cloister. We are generally rather anti the Baroque style, but it must be said that the cloister was one of the highlights of the walk.

The cunningly constructed route meant that we were now close to where we started and it remained only to walk down to the harbour and choose a restaurant for lunch.

After an excellent light lunch we decided to complete our exploration by walking past our hotel to the end of Passeig de Sant Nicolau, where we were delighted to discover the 17th century Fort Sant Nicolau. The cruise ship in the background is just a sign of the times.

Nearby was an excellent statue - of  David Glasgow Farragut. The citation says that he was an American admiral who became an adopted son of Ciutadella. Wikipedia reveals a much more interesting story: Faragut was a Southerner who fought on the side of the Union in the American Civil War and the first American to be promoted Admiral. He captured the city of New Orleans and later achieved a famous victory at the battle of Mobile Bay. His father was from Menorca.

Now we walked back into Ciutadella along the harbourside. This is the view cross the harbour mouth.  The harbour is long and quite narrow - a typical Menorcan Cala.

One interesting sight on the way back was this new-looking house in the style of a Greek temple.

Conditions: a lovely sunny day.

Distance: about 4.5 miles.

From: Walk! Menorca by David and Ros Brawn

Rating: four and a half stars. Interesting and varied.

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