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Although the City of Mahon is both the commercial and cultural centre of Menorca, the depth of history, culture and nightlife here often takes visitors by surprise, and with the increasing popularity of the city break amongst travellers, we felt that a guide to Mahon was a long overdue omission on our part.
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 city centre.
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 into the centre of 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.
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.
If all of this culture is becoming too much, then the numerous bars and restaurants along the portside are an ideal location to spend a few hours admiring the view, watching the ships, or just generally taking in the atmosphere of the city.
One thing that we should point out is that Mahon 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.
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