This is the time of year when a bit of warmth and sunshine helps to waft away the winter darkness. So time to bring to life some memories of holidays in sunnier places. Today it is Maó, or Mahon as it is probably more commonly known in the English speaking world. Maó is the catalan version of the name, and this beautiful little city is now the capital of the island of Menorca, the second largest of the Balearic islands. We had a lovely holiday in Menorca last year with the rest of the family and one of our day trips was to the capital. It was an incredibly hot day and we all found great relief from the heat by taking one of the cruises round the harbour.
The harbour at Maó is no ordinary harbour. It is reckoned to be the second largest in the world, with a length of 5km and a maximum width of 900m. There is plenty to see on both sides of the harbour. The island was under British rule for most of the 18th century and many fortifications were built to protect the city from attack. Most are now ruins, but instead the waterway is littered with the homes of the wealthier islanders and foreigners searching for some peace and sunshine. So let us enjoy the delights of Maó and its harbour.
First up is the glimpse you get of the water as you descend through the city to the harbour. Then a view of some of the buildings lining the waterfront. The last is a view of Es Castell, which is a small town a few kilometres along the coast from Maó. It was built by the English in the 18th century, when it was known as Georgetown, and has the distinction of being the most easterly town in Spain.
Nowadays the harbour is best known for its pleasure craft of all shapes and sizes. But there is a relic of the “good old days” to be seen in the shape of a fine, if rather black looking galleon. This is followed by two views of a smashing sailing ship. As we were returning this fine ship was on its way out with smoke billowing up from its boiler. A wonderful sight.
The norther shore of the harbour is now home to a myriad of little settlements full of luxurious looking houses for the rich. A selection follows. Start saving up your pennies and you too could end up here!
The further out you go from the inner harbour you come across some of the remains of the fortifications and other military buildings. The first two photos below show views of the old fortress or La Mola as it is known locally. This was built on a peninsula on the norther shore and the first photo shows some of the old barracks while the second shows one of the look out towers. The third in this sequence is the ornamental entrance to La Lazareto, which was an isolation centre for visiting sailors suffering from infectious diseases. It is now a location for tourist visitors.
At the end of the outer harbour where the Mediterranean sea takes over the landscape has become very arid and in many places very steep. The final three photos show various views of this part of the outer harbour. Ruins still abound as can be seen from the first two photos. The final one shows part of the steep and very colourful cliff which fronts the wide sea.