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Most visitors to Menorca will arrive on the island at the nearby International Aeropuerto de Menorca, and from here it's only a short 6km journey into the town.
For those visitors who chose to collect a pre-booked hire car from one of the numerous agencies that operate from the airport facility, we have put together the basic route for this journey, complete with links to maps where appropriate, and this is available from the Route Map link on the left hand frame of this page.
As you drive towards Es Castell via Mahon, your first impressions of the city will be of its busy, narrow and often crowded streets, although in all fairness around 30,000 of the island's resident population of 94,000, do live here before taking into account the large number of visitors.
Throughout the centuries, the residents of Menorca have known Es Castell by a variety of names, some more popular than others.
Originally the British called the town Georgetown, after King George III the reigning monarch at the time.
Es Castell still retains the feel of a British colonial town. The central Placa de S'Esplanada, where children now play, was the former military parade ground, and is surrounded by imposing Georgian buildings, including the distinctive red town hall with its English clock tower and Military Museum.
Although part of the much large harbour of Mahon, Es Castell has two inlets, these being Cala Fonts and Cala Corb, where small wooden fishing boats bob contentedly and fishermen sit patiently. The seafront around these inlets are lined with bars and restaurants and make an ideal spot for summer evenings or for picking up a boat tour around the harbour.
One thing that we should point out is that Es Castell does not have its own beach, although for most visitors here this isn’t really a problem as a day on the beach wouldn’t really hold much appeal. However, for those who do wish to escape the city for the day, the small sandy beach at nearby Es Grau, some 10km to the north of the city centre, both offer a fair variety of water sports facilities and equipment for hire including sun lounges and parasols.
Nearby Mahon only became the capital of Menorca relatively recently, when in 1721, despite protests from both the local inhabitants and the Bishop of Ciutadella who refused to relocate his palace, the British moved it from Ciutadella as part of the Treaty of Utrecht.
The reasoning behind this deeply unpopular decision was entirely strategic. At almost 5km long, 1km wide and 15 - 30m deep, the harbour at Mahon is the second deepest natural harbour in the world, and this made it the perfect home to the British Mediterranean fleet.
The harbour now effectively splits the city in two, with most of the commercial development and the historic city centre situated along the southern shore, and the newer residential developments on the northern shore, which is know locally as the "other side".
One of the best ways to tour the old town is undoubtedly on foot, here you will find narrow pedestrianised streets to explore, with pleasant shady squares and numerous pavement cafes and bars for refreshment. As you wander around, there are many historical buildings to discover, the oldest of these being the Arch de San Roque, which unfortunately is now the only remains of the wall that once encircled the city.
A short distance from the Arch de San Roque is the Town Hall, which is a typically Menorcan building that was originally built in 1631 and subsequently restored towards the end of the 18th Century. Even today, the building still features the original clock given to the city by Richard Kane, who was the English Governor of Menorca at the time, and inside there is a portrait gallery which features paintings of many famous Menorcan's throughout history.
Certainly well worth a mention here is the Church of Santa Maria, which is one of Mahon’s finest attractions. Originally constructed in 1287, and rebuilt between 1748 and 1772, the magnificent Esglesia de Santa María la Major contains a spectacular organ which features four keyboards and over 3,000 pipes.
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