Monday 30 October 2023

Menorca, 2023. Day 6, Ciutadella, Cala en Turqueta and a Bronze Age Tomb

 A day of culture today: a city visit and a bronze age tomb. Our city was Ciutadella at the extreme west of the island and we were able to get parked in the Placa des Borns. The word born means parade ground and the square was used for jousting contests in earlier times and is still the venue for an equestrian parade during the city's annual festivities in June. At the centre of the square is an obelisk commemorating those who were killed or abducted into slavery during the Turkish raid of 1558. Much of the city was destroyed including the alcazar or palace. The crenellated town hall with its Moorish-looking row of palms was built in the 19th C. From the square are magnificent views of the harbour.

From the Placa des Born we enjoyed the narrow back streets which seem designed for strolling. The pastel colours of the buildings and lamps with wrought iron wall brackets were especially attractive.

We stopped for coffee and ensaimada at a friendly cafe outside of which were two magnificent gnarled and ancient olive trees.

A visit to the cathedral was our next objective. Ciutadella has been Menorca's religious capital sine the Spanish reconquista in 1287. Inside is an aisleless nave with side chapels and a pentagonal apse. Most of the inside of the cathedral was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War and what remains is heavily restored. Our ticket for the cathedral enabled access to the nearby Convent and cloister of St Augustine. The cloister is a large, magnificent baroque work of art; a peaceful place to rest on a hot day. Again the church was destroyed during the Civil War but so far has not been restored. What remains is a poignant reminder of its former baroque splendour.

Lunch at a cafe outside the Mercat Municipal selling fruit vegetables, meat and fish was next on the agenda. As we had a large dinner at the hotel to look forward to we contented ourselves with a superb tomato sald and ham croquettas with some rehydration. We were fascinated with the street art in this area of the city, often related to the market products being sold.

Before leaving the city we couldn't resist exploring the port and enjoying a cold beer on the harbourside.

All too soon it was time to leave this beautiful city but we had two more visits we were looking forward to before returning to Cala Galdana. First a short drive and then a beautiful walk down through the Alepo pine woods to the fabulous beach of Cala Turqueta. We were just sorry that we hadn't brought swimming kit; it was perfect.

On the way home I was keen to visit the Naveta des Tudons, a Bronze Age burial chamber and the oldest roofed building in Spain. For many years it lay derelict and overgrown but was restored by archaeologists in 1959/60 and again in 1975. The word naveta describes a burial chamber, built in the shape of an upturned boat. The building has two floors. Bodies were left to decompose of the ground floor and the bones later transferred to the ossuary on the upper floor. Over 100 corpses were discovered here, some still with bronze bracelets on their arm bones.

After yet another superb day it was time to return to the hotel for some preprandial refreshment.

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