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The beach at Santo Tomas is without doubt one of the major attractions of the resort and offers visitors a good selection of water sports facilities, including pedaloes and banana boats etc. Also certainly worth another mention here is a small mini golf course which is operated from the Las Dunas bar and restaurant.
If you've hired a car and want to escape the resort for the day, the municipal districts of es Migjorn Gran and es Mercadal both offer visitors a wealth of attractions that are sadly missed by most visitors to the island. Every Wednesday throughout the year there is always a colourful fruit and produce market held locally in the Plaza de la Iglesia at es Migjorn Gran, also a little further inland the es Mercadal market is held every Sunday. This is one of the three weekly markets that were established way back in 1301 by Jaime II as part of the Christian conquest of the island. Most markets throughout all of the Balearic Islands, are usually held in the morning from around 8:00 to 13:00, before the heat of the day really sets in, so you'll need to get there early to secure the best bargains.
The town of es Mercadal is built at the foot of Mount Toro, which at 354m above sea level, is the highest point on Menorca. A trip to the Sanctuary of the Mare de Déu del Toro at its peak is always included in most of the tour operators "see Menorca in a day" type island tours, as it usually offers exceptional views over the island, and in particular the north coast. Mount Toro is recognised as being the spiritual centre of Menorca, and legend has it that in 1288, a few months after Christianity was restored on the island, a group of monks found a statue of the Virgin with a small lit lamp in a cave here. The monks built a small chapel in her honour, which was then rebuilt in the 17th Century as the Sanctuary of the Mare de Déu del Toro that we see today. The Sanctuary is now the home to a small community of nuns from the Franciscan order, although it is also used by various other spiritual groups from the local community as a meeting place.
Returning if we may to es Migjorn Gran, as we mentioned briefly on the general introduction page, this is the scene of what must be one of the most bizarre fiestas held on Menorca. The annual Fiesta of Sant Cristòfol, the patron saint of the town, is held at the Plaza de la Iglesia during late July or early August each year, which, following a colourful parade through the town, always features the blessing of the local residents cars by the local priest.
A somewhat more traditional fiesta is also held during July each year in Es Mercadal in recognition of the towns patron saint Sant Martí. As with all fiestas throughout all of the Balearic Islands, there's always a host of sporting and musical events that get the whole community involved in, although the highlight of the celebrations is always the parade through the town, where at pre-determined points riders encourage their horses to rear onto their hind legs to the cheers of the crowd.
Horses have always played a central part in the fiestas and traditions of Menorca. The pure bred Menorcan horse is recognised and valued, throughout the world as a strong, slender and elegant breed, that is famous for its ability to rear up onto its hind legs. The Menorcan Horse Fair is held in Es Mercadal during the first Sunday of May each year, where the the very best horses on Menorca are judged by a panel of experts from the Menorcan Breeders Association, which is then followed by displays of riding skills.
Certainly well worth a mention, is the Menorca a Cavall riding school, which is located at Santa Rita which is between Es Mercadal and Ferreries.
Although certainly not being an equestrian expert, the horses all looked to be both well fed and
well treated. It's also worth noting that during the summer the attraction is very popular and advanced booking is essential.
Contact details are:
Menorca a Cavall Riding School
Telephone: +34 971 374 637
Web site: www.menorcaacavall.com
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