Fortified Menorca

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Menorca’s key position in the Eastern Mediterranean has always been acknowledged and coveted by different cultures. There were battles on the coast and inland, from the Barbary pirate invasions to the British and French occupations. The evidence lies in the military network of forts and watchtowers – the Castle of San Antonio in Fornells, the Fortress of la Mola in Mahón, 14 watchtowers linking the coastline - eleven built by the English and three by the Spanish - Fort Marlborough or the San Felipe castle in Es Castell. A route which also takes us to the Military Museum in this town, where the collection and variety of documents, plans, maps, uniforms and models give us a clear vision of Menorca’s many historical events.

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Menorca’s strategic location in the middle of the western

Mediterranean made it vulnerable to pirate invasions; it also

attracted the attention of various European powers that saw the

island as a key vantage point from which to control the entire

Mediterranean area.From medieval times, shortly after Alfonso III of

Aragón retook the island from the Muslims, towers were being built

by rural landowners and used as places where the inhabitants could

take refuge from pirate attacks. The best preserved medieval towers

are those of En Quart, Saura, S'Argoçam and Binifadet.The military

situation in the Mediterranean in the 16th century was one of

constant conflict between the Spanish and Ottoman empires. As well

as battles between the two armies, the most widespread tactic

employed was the “razzia”, involving a raid or surprise attack on

points along the enemy coastline with the intention of causing as

much damage as possible. The islanders’ response to this constant

threat of danger was to build a network of coastal watchtowers and

sea defence towers. If the enemy was spotted, a fire would be lit so

the flames could be seen during the night and smoke signals would be

used during daylight hours. The best preserved watchtower is Torret


Modern era defensive structures were first built on Menorca

following the attacks launched by Barbarossa on Maó (1535) and by

Mustafà Pialí on Ciutadella (1558). These o!ensives prompted Felipe

II to build the fort of Sant Felip, reinforce the old medieval walls in

Ciutadella and Maó with bastions to house artillery, and also to build

the defence tower of Sant Nicolau. In the 18th century Menorca was

involved in historical events taking place in the Mediterranean and in

the sharing out of sovereignty and territory between the major

European powers. As a result of the War of Succession to the

Spanish throne, the island was handed over to the British (the 1713

Treaty of Utrecht). Menorca was British for nearly a hundred years,

except for a few brief periods under French and Spanish rule.

Building activity consisted mainly of positioning defence towers

along the coast, three built by the Spanish and eleven by the British,

to prevent enemy troops disembarking. Major military construction

projects included renovating and extending the castle of Sant Felip

and building Marlborough fort. Finally, in 1802, Menorca was

handed back to the Spanish crown (Treaty of Amiens). Carlos III

blew up the castles on Menorca and, as a result, the island was left

with no fortifications until Isabel II built the fortress of La Mola.

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Location: Cala de Sant Esteve

Town: Es Castell

Owned by: Consell Insular de Menorca (Government of Menorca)

Managed by: Fundació Destí Menorca

Telephone: 902 929 015

Web: www.menorca.es

39º51’47,69’’ N 4º18’05,67’’ E


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Fort on the south side of Cove Cala de Sant Esteve. Built by the

British between 1720 and 1726 to protect the southern sector of the

castle of Sant Felip and in the event of a siege, to prevent enemy

batteries being positioned on the northern side of the hill overlooking

the high ground where Sant Felip stood. The fort underwent two

sieges. In 1756 it was besieged by the Duke of Richelieu, who seized

the island from the British for seven years, and in 1781, by the Spanish

army commanded by the Duke of Crillón, who conquered the island

and returned it temporarily to Spanish sovereignty. It was demolished

on the orders of Carlos III only a few months after General Murray’s

surrender to Spanish troops. It was subsequently rebuilt when

Menorca fell to the British once again in 1798. During this period the

tower of En Penjat (the hanged man’s tower) was built on the hill

known as En Penjat or “del Turco” to prevent it being stormed during a

siege, as had previously occurred during the French and Spanish


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Most of the fort has been excavated out of the solid rock and almost

seems to be part of the landscape. The entrance gallery, the

counterscarp gallery surrounding the moat and the countermines that

radiate out from it, were intended to protect the central enclosure and

its four artillery pieces positioned on semi-circular platforms.

The technology used in the exhibition has been designed to be in

keeping with the monument and invites visitors to take a journey back

in time to see what life was like in the fort, how the occupants lived

through the sieges and understand the history of Menorca and Europe

in the 18th century.

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Location: Carretera de Sant Felip s/n

Town: Es Castell

Owned by: Ministry of Defence

Managed by: Consorcio del Museo Militar de Menorca y Patrimonio

Histórico Militar (Consortium of the Military Museum of Menorca

and Historic Military Heritage)

Telephone: 971 362 100

Web: www.museomilitarmenorca.com

39º51’57,44’’ N 4º18’19,61’’ E


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The castle of Sant Felip stands on the entrance to the Maó Harbour.

This Italian style bastioned fortification was built by the Spanish in the

mid-16th century. This type of fortification typically consisted of a

series of architectural elements arranged concentrically in a star

pattern. The original Spanish fort (square shaped with four bastions)

was later extended to include a series of buildings at ground level

together with underground fighting and mining galleries. The castle

reached the height of its architectural and tactical powers in the

mid-18th century. During this period, the complex was one of the

most superb and impressive of its kind in Europe. The Sant Felip

cannons (363 in total) were aimed at all four compass points, sweeping

the surrounding area over a maximum range of two kilometres. The

island's defence was completed by other strongholds: Sant Carles (to

the SE), Marlborough (to the SW), Felipet (to the E, on the Illa del

Llatzeret, Llatzeret Island) and the forts of Argyle and Anstruther (to

the NE). The fort was also equipped with all kinds of other weaponry

(gunpowder magazines, storerooms, hospital, guard details,

watchtowers, kitchens and bakeries). The fort of Sant Felip was

besieged twice.

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The first time in 1756 by the French and the second time in 1781 by

the Spanish. It was demolished in 1782 after the Spanish siege by order

of Carlos III and was rebuilt years later by the British before being

destroyed definitively by the Spanish in 1802, after they recovered

Menorca under the Treaty of Amiens.

Very little remains at ground level but you can still walk along the

castle’s impressive underground galleries, which make for very

atmospheric night-time tours that are often dramatized to re-enact

scenes from past events, bringing history alive for today’s visitors.

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Location: Carretera de La Mola (M-3)

Town: Maó

Owned by: Consorcio del Museo Militar de Menorca y Patrimonio

Histórico Militar (Consortium of the Military Museum of Menorca

and Historic Military Heritage)

Managed by: Cordial Hoteles

Telephone: 971 364 040 / 686 659 400

Web: www.fortalesalamola.com

39º51’57,44’’ N 4º18’19,61’’ E

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En los años 40 del siglo XIX, los intereses coloniales de Francia y Gran Bretaña chocaban. La ruta norte-sur francesa (Francia-Argelia) se cruzaba con la británica (Gibraltar-India). Casualmente el punto de cruce era el puerto de Mahón. Ante el temor de que quisieran recuperar Menorca, que en ese momento se encontraba sin fortificaciones, debido a la demolición de la fortaleza de San Felipe por Carlos III (1782), se inició la construcción de la fortaleza de Isabel II en la Mola del puerto de Mahón. Es un ejemplo de fortificación alemana de sistema atenazado que había sustituido al antiguo sistema abaluartado del castillo de San Felipe. Sin embargo, su traza es irregular, pues los lados de la tenaza no son iguales. Esto se debe a que se aprovecharon los cimientos de una antigua fortificación británica de la última dominación inglesa (1798-1802), el «fuerte de la reina Ana». La fortaleza dispone de un amplio y profundo foso con ángulos entrantes con cañoneras. En su parte central, el Hornabeque, reforzaba la defensa de acceso terrestre a la fortaleza. La artillería de los distintos niveles de fuego, defendían el foso, con los niveles inferiores, y los accesos terrestres de la península y marítimos, con los niveles superiores. Cabe destacar la galería aspillerada, un corredor para fusilería de casi medio kilómetro de largo, que defendía el foso y el camino cubierto. La perfecta ejecución de la cantería, escaleras de caracol, gárgolas, escudos y, sobre todo, las bóvedas de arista de las casamatas, han causado la admiración de muchos arquitectos que han visitado la fortaleza.

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Para solucionar el problema de abastecimiento de agua en caso de sitio

construyeron una red de cisternas y canales de conducción de las aguas

pluviales que eran recogidas en grandes aljibes, siendo previamente

drenadas y liberadas de impurezas en varios decantaderos.

La fortaleza de Isabel II es una de las últimas de aquella calidad.

Paradógicamente, a su terminación, tras 20 años (1850-1870) trabajos

y penurias, ya había quedado obsoleta ante el impetuoso desarrollo de

las nuevas armas ofensivas, «revolución artillera», al avance de la

marina de guerra.

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Location: C/ Castell s/n. Fornells

Town: Es Mercadal

Owned and managed by: Es Mercadal Town Council

Telephone: 971 375 002

Web: www.aj-esmercadal.org

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The castle of Sant Antoni is the earliest trace of the village on the bay

of Fornells, a strategic spot on the island that grew alongside the fort.

Work on the castle began in 1637, during the reign of Felipe IV, and

was completed in 1671. It was built on a rectangular layout. Each of the

four angles had four bastions named after the four evangelists. Inside

there was a modest chapel, storerooms, a large water tank, living

quarters for troops and the quartermaster’s o#ce. In the centre was a

small parade ground.

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The fort was demolished in 1782, shortly after the island was returned

to Spanish rule, on the orders of Carlos III. The four bastions and the

s e c o n d fl o o r w e r e d e s t r o y e d .

The fort has now been restored and a number of underground galleries

plus the remains of one of the bastions have been preserved.

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OPEN TO VISITORSLocation: Camí dels Alocs, Carretera Maó – Ciutadella.

Town: FerreriesOwned and managed by: Consell Insular de Menorca (Government of

Menorca)Telephone: 902 929 015

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In 903 the Balearic Islands became part of the Muslim world when

Issam al-Khawlaní annexed them to the Caliphate of Cordoba. The

Catalan troops under the command of Alfonso III disembarked in the

Maó Harbour on 17 January 1287. Hundreds of Menorca's inhabitants

abandoned their fields and took refuge with the Muslim leader in the

castle of Santa Águeda, where they surrendered on 21 January.

Between the 10th and 13th centuries, one of the biggest and most

important defensive complexes of Al-Andalus was built on the summit

of Santa Águeda mountain. The castle gave panoramic views over

almost the entire districts of Hasmaljuda (the municipal area of

Ciutadella) and Benissaida (Es Mercadal and Ferreries), most of the

north-west coast and the capital city of Medina al Yazira (Ciutadella).

The fortification consists of three enclosures covering a total area of

6.5 hectares, 1,800 metres of outer walls and 37 towers, around ten of

which still survive in reasonably good condition. The oldest towers are

rounded and the newest are square (and were often built to strengthen

the round towers). The enclosures were self-contained but were

connected with each other. The first two were built around the 10th

century and were renovated over successive centuries, while the third

probably dates from the 13th century.

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The purpose of the castle was to defend the territory and especially

the ports on the northern coast. The choice of location would have

taken into account the proximity of the seat of political power,

providing a place of refuge for the authorities if the need arose. The

enclosures were large enough to provide shelter for people coming in

from the surrounding countryside. As well as being a permanent

barracks, the castle was likely to be a well-populated town.

During the early years of the Catalan conquest, the castle continued

to operate as one of the island’s main military fortresses. Despite this,

by the 14th century, fortified town centres open to the sea were

becoming more popular and so the castle gradually fell into disuse.

After the conquest, some of its buildings were maintained, such as the

church, which was eventually converted into a country home; later, on

the north side, the stable, the threshing floor and a water tank,

possibly already used in Muslim times, were also kept in good repair.

The castle can be reached by following the Camí dels Alocs until you

get to the old rural schools. Then, continue on foot, passing what looks

like a Roman path, but in fact dates from medieval times.

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Location: Cala de Sant EsteveTown: Es Castell

Owned and managed by: Consorcio del Museo Militar de Menorca yPatrimonio Histórico Militar (Consortium of the Military Museum of

Menorca and Historic Military Heritage)Telephone: 971 362 100

Web: www.museomilitarmenorca.com

39º51’34,02’’ N 4º18’14,63’’ E

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A large coastal defence tower built in 1798 by order of General Stuart,

conqueror and Governor of Menorca. The tower was built on the hill

known as En Penjat (the hanged man) or “el Turco”. At first, it was

called the Governor’s tower, then En Penjat (“the hanged man” in the

Menorcan language).

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The purpose of the tower was to defend the harbour entrance while

the castle of Sant Felip was being rebuilt. When the castle was

completed it was supposed to complement Fort Marlborough to

prevent siege batteries being positioned facing the fort in the event of

an attack. The tower is a typical example of its kind, with the ground

floor being used as gunpowder magazine and for storing spare parts,

the middle floor for the troops and the upper terrace for artillery

(cannons) and immediate defence. Over the original doorway, which

was on the middle floor, the parapet surrounding the terrace rested on

five corbels that left openings (loopholes) from which guns would be

fired to defend the port and prevent the enemy from storming the


The tower also had an earth moat around it. Attached to the moat

were two dry stone walls, one running towards the sea and the other

towards Fort Marlborough, about 500 metres away to the north. The

wall was a link to the fort and a cannon was positioned on the section

closest to the tower to protect this vital connection.

Restoration work carried out in 1989 removed the alterations made to

the tower in 1946, when it was used as the goniometer position for the

Vickers 38.1 artillery guns on La Mola (the goniometer is an

instrument that would have been used to measure the angle of fire).

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A YOUTH HOSTEL)Location: Punta Prima-Son Ganxo Residential Complex

Town: Sant LluísOwned by: Consell Insular de Menorca

Managed by: Institut de la Joventut de Menorca (Menorca Youth Institute)

Telephone: 971 365 073Web: www.injovemenorca.com

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A Spanish coastal defence tower, also known as the tower of Punta

Prima. It is similar in size and appearance to the tower of Alcalfar, as

they were both built at the same time, in 1786 when the island was

under Spanish rule after being taken back from the British and while

the Count of Cifuentes was Governor of Menorca.

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Standing on the south-eastern tip of Menorca, around 7 km from the

Maó Harbour and facing the Illa de l’Aire (De l’Aire Island), the tower

dominates the low-lying coast and the nearby beach is the perfect

place for enemy troops to disembark. The tower was used for guarding

the cost up to the Cove Cala Canutells.

Like all coastal defence towers, it has three floors, with an entrance

doorway on the middle floor accessed by a movable stepladder. The

entrance was defended from above with riflemen positioned on the

machicolation that juts out from the upper terrace. Nowadays the

entrance is on the ground floor via a doorway cut into the wall years

after it was built. The terrace is reached from the middle floor via a

spiral staircase set into the wall and opening out into the machicolation


It is currently owned by the Institut de la Joventut de Menorca, who

uses it as a youth hostel.

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Location: Carretera Sant Lluís – Alcalfar.Town: Sant Lluís

Owned and managed by: Sant Lluís Town CouncilTelephone: 971 151 084

Web: www.ajsantlluis.org

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This Spanish coastal defence tower was restored a few years ago. It has a conical shape and three floors, visible from the outside by the projections that surround the tower like a girdle. The walls were built from mortar and are covered by masonry on the outside.The ground floor housed a small gunpowder magazine and a water tank. This small inside area was covered by a semi-circular dome, which is the roof of the middle floor. The spiral staircase leading up to the terrace from the middle floor is set into the wall of the tower.

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The machicolation is positioned over the entrance door as defence. The original door is the one on the middle floor. The entrance door on the ground floor was opened up many years after the tower was built. The terrace varies little from those on English towers. It is surrounded by a parapet and the area used for the artillery piece (cannon) is o!-centre because of the space taken up by the machicolation, so the scope available for gunfire is limited to 180 degrees, coinciding with the lowest section of the parapet. On this terrace you can still see where the oven for “red cannon balls” once stood. These projectiles were heated until they were red-hot, and then fired on ships with wooden hulls and decks, where they would be embedded and set fire to the ship.

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Location: Sa Mesquida Residential ComplexTown: Maó

Owned and managed by: Private

39º54’50,06’’ N 4º17’10,35’’ E

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This British coastal defence tower stands on a high rock in the centre of the bay and has a very large, reinforced machicolation, capable of repelling an attack on the tower from land to the west. The gallery is higher than the terrace parapet and the many loopholes enabled riflemen to fire on attackers to great e!ect. This arrangement is what makes this tower unique. This one and the tower of Castellar in Ciutadella are the two exceptions to the design produced by Lt. Col. Pasley normally used by the British. Its remaining features are similar to those of other towers on the island. The middle floor has collapsed, but the spiral staircase set into the wall and leading to the upper platform still survives. The upper platform was prepared to house a revolving cannon that would be fired on ships entering the cove. The vertical masonry reinforcements are especially clear on the south side of the tower, which is in a very poor state on the outside. The original doorway is in the defensive gallery described earlier. A later door was opened on the ground floor and a water tank was dug out on the ground floor.At the bottom of the tower is a paved artillery platform with a barbette to protect a heavy field gun. Behind the tower and the battery is an enclosure with living accommodation for the troops and the guards, together with a sentry post. Nowadays both the tower and the enclosure are privately owned as living accommodation.

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Location: Facing the Illa d’en Colom (En Colom Island). Albufera des Grau Nature Park

Town: MaóOwned and managed by: Coastal authority

39º57’46,26’’ N 4º15’54,52’’ E

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This British coastal defence tower stands on the Rambla headland,

which separates the Cove Cala de sa Torreta from the Cove Cala des

Tamarells. It was built between 1799 and 1802. It is conical, made of

roughly hewn stone and mortar on a base. Two rings of local “mares”

limestone, an upper and a lower, jut out slightly from the wall, marking

the terrace parapet.

Like all these towers, it consists of a ground floor, middle floor and a

fighting terrace. The ground floor was a storeroom for supplies,

gunpowder and spares. The garrison accommodation was on the middle

floor. It consisted of a single octagonal room with a vaulted ceiling. It

was linked to the terrace by a chimney. The ground floor housed a

square water tank dug into the ground. The original doorway, as usual,

was rectangular with a slight arch over the top and was defended by an

upper machicolation supported by four corbels, with loopholes

between the corbels through which guns could be fired. The terrace is

circular with an opening in the parapet next to the machicolation,

probably used for pulling up the cannon and the projectiles.

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The tower has been preserved in its original layout except for the

doorway cut into the wall at ground floor level. It has not been restored

and the outside surface of the wall is in very poor condition; the

masonry seams no longer have their original mortar and the building is

in danger of collapse, so it is advisable not to go too close or venture


Nearby are the remains of a building once used as accommodation for

dragoons, cavalry soldiers who carried forecasts of foggy weather and

patrolled the blind spots not covered from the tower.

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Location: Illa del Llatzeret (Llatzeret Island), Maó HarbourTown: Maó

Owned by: Ministry of DefenceManaged by: Consorcio del Museo Militar de Menorca y Patrimonio

Histórico MilitarTelephone: 971 362 100

Web: www.museomilitarmenorca.com

39º52’20,53’’ N 4º18’22,96’’ E

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The tower was built in 1798 at the entrance to the Maó Harbour, on the westernmost tip of Illa del Llatzeret, an area that all shipping entering the harbour had to pass through. It was built on the site of the old stronghold of Sant Felipet, which was demolished in 1782 by Carlos III.

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This large British coastal defence tower has three floors, like all the towers built during this period: the lower floor, for the gunpowder magazine, provisions and spares; the middle floor for troops’ living quarters and with the tower entrance doorway, connected to the terrace via a spiral staircase, and with the lower floor via a trapdoor. The terrace, which was circular and surrounded by a parapet, had a machicolation with loopholes for firing on anyone trying to force their way into the tower.There is a lower artillery placement near the tower, on the western tip of the old fort.In the late 19th century two buildings were added adjoining the tower. They had barrel vaulted ceilings and were used for storing material for the underwater defence of the Maó Harbour. Later they were converted to house projectors for illuminating the coast at night.

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Location: Cala Teulera. Carretera de La Mola

Town: Maó

Owned by: Ministry of Defence

Managed by: Consorcio del Museo Militar de Menorca y Patrimonio

Histórico Militar (Consortium of the Military Museum of Menorca

and Historic Military Heritage)

Telephone: 971 362 100

Web: www.museomilitarmenorca.com

39º52’27,84’’ N 4º18’27,53’’ E


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A British coastal defence tower with a structure similar to the tower of La Princesa and to the small towers built by the British on Menorca. It was built in 1799 in times of the Lieutenant Governor General Saint Clair-Erskine, and was originally called Saint Clair tower, although it was later known as the tower of La Mola or of Cove Cala Teulera. Its purpose was to defend a withdrawal of troops on the peninsula of La Mola and at the same time to protect the anchorage in the cove from the possible disembarkation of enemy forces.

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The tower is built from stone and mortar and the outside is covered with limestone blocks. The parapet is surrounded above and below on the outside by two rectangular-shaped ridges. Like all these towers, it has three floors. The lower floor was used to store provisions, weapons and gunpowder. The middle floor was the troops' living quarters. The terrace on the upper floor was used for fighting and could take one or several cannons. The original doorway was on the middle floor and was defended from the machicolation above. It has a mid-height cannon emplacement pointing towards Es Freus, which must have been added at a later date when the fortress of La Mola was built in the second half of the 19th century. A doorway was cut into the wall at ground level after the tower was built. It was restored recently.

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Location: Angle 3 in the fortress of La Mola precinct

Town: Maó

Owned by: Ministry of Defence

Managed by: Consorcio del Museo Militar de Menorca y Patrimonio

Histórico Militar (Consortium of the Military Museum of Menorca and

Historic Military Heritage)

Telephone: 971 362 100

Web: www.museomilitarmenorca.com

39º52’27,84’’ N 4º18’27,53’’ E

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This British coastal defence tower stands on the cli! of La Mola and was built to prevent enemy troops landing in Es Freus. It was built in 1799 and was called the Erskine tower (after the Governor of Menorca), although it was also known as the tower of Es Freus. It was probably built by Captain D'Arcy, the British Chief Engineer. This tower is similar to the one at Cove Cala Teulera. It had a ground floor, a middle floor and a terrace for a revolving artillery piece. The doorway was at middle floor level and the ground floor was used to store gunpowder, provisions and spares. The troops were accommodated on the middle floor and the cannons were fired from the terrace, which defended the entrance to the tower.In the mid-19th century the interior structure was changed when it was made part of the Princesa front of the fortress of La Mola. Another structure was superimposed onto the terrace, reinforcing the vaulting and adapting the design to fit the 3rd angle jutting out from the fortress. A cannon emplacement was opened up in the wall facing Es Freus.The tower was damaged in 1958 when the gunpowder store blew up after being struck by lightning.The tower’s museum project and the e!ects of the explosion mean that visitors can see the internal structure of the building and get a clear idea of how the vaulting was built. Nothing has been rebuilt, the work has merely made the tower safe and provided access routes to guarantee visitors’ safety.

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TOUR OF THE OUTSIDELocation: Addaia Harbour

Town: Es MercadalOwned and managed by: Private

40º00’43,17’’ N 4º12’03,16’’ E

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A British coastal defence tower standing between Cove Cala Molí and Addaia, on the peninsula separating both coves. It was built by the British between 1798 and 1802 to house a garrison of 18 men plus spares and provisions for one month. It has a conical shape and consists of three floors: the ground floor was for storing gunpowder, provisions and spares, plus a water tank sunk into the ground. The middle floor was covered by a barrel vaulted ceiling and housed the troops. This floor and the one beneath were connected via a trapdoor, while the floor above was reached by an opening in the ceiling that gave access to the inside of the machicolation on the upper terrace. The terrace is surrounded by a wide parapet edged with two circular ridges. The machicolation jutted out over the parapet supported by five corbels, leaving space between for firing weapons. The “red balls” oven would have been installed nearby, where cannon balls were heated until they were red hot and then fired at enemy ships. A revolving cannon stood on the terrace.The typical external vertical reinforcements can clearly be seen arranged perpendicular to the surface.The tower was restored by the owners in 1973. The restoration work did not replace the machicolation that had collapsed and eliminated the original doorway at middle floor level. The doorway is now at ground level. The inside of the tower was well preserved and did not need major restoration. The staircase was added at a later date.

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Location: Fornells Tower headland

Town: Fornells

Owned by: Consell Insular de Menorca (Government of Menorca)

Managed by: Fundació Destí Menorca

Telephone: 902 929 015

Web: www.menorca.es

40º03’41,59’’ N 4º07’50,06’’ E


Foto: Cisco Moll

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A British coastal defence tower built between 1801 and 1802. It is one

of the largest of all the British towers on Menorca and its outer

appearance is di!erent to the others built in the same period. The

ground floor includes a reinforcement or incline and it also has a

cylindrical parapet around the upper floor with a moulded overhang,

which juts out over the outer surface of the tower and rests on corbels.

The ground floor was a storage area with spaces for gunpowder,

weapons and ammunition plus provisions. To get ammunition quickly

from this floor to the floor above, a pulley system was used to pull

supplies up through an opening in the ceiling. The o#cer’s room is on

the first floor, along with troop accommodation, the water supply and

the fire area. The entrance doorway is also at this level and was reached

via a set of wooden steps that could be pulled up in the event of an

attack. The upper floor was reached via a spiral staircase leading from

the first floor and housed the artillery platform. There would have been

at least one cannon, protected by an extremely thick parapet that ran

round the entire platform.

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The parapet also housed a small “red ball” oven where projectile were

heated until red hot and then fired at ships to set them alight. The

machicolation is a covered parapet jutting out and supported by

corbels. Between the corbels there are gaps that were used for

defending the entrance from above against enemy attack.

The tower was restored and opened to the public in 2000. The site

information is simple and clearly set out. Visitors can see how this

defence tower stood firm against threats coming from the sea, a

constant feature of Menorca's history.

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NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLICLocation: Illa de Ses Sargantanes (Ses Sargantanes Island), Fornells

HarbourTown: Mercadal

Owned and managed by: Private

40º02’51,71’’ N 4º08’11,31’’ E

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The Illa de Ses Sargantanes is in the centre of the bay of Fornells, dominating its entrance and the central area of anchorage. The tower stands on the northern tip of this small island and was probably one of the last to be built by Captain D’Arcy. It replaced the wooden fort that once stood in the same spot.The tower forms an enclosure with the artillery emplacement beneath it and was equipped with three cannon positions. Its design and layout are di!erent to other British towers on Menorca, although the structure is the same, with stone and mortar and vertical lines of masonry reinforcements perpendicular to the parapet. It has no middle floor, so the ground floor was used for accommodating the troops and for storage. This floor was connected to the fighting terrace by a chimney with a movable set of steps. The tower has two adjoining wings on the outside, one facing north and the other facing east, which continue as a broad wall enclosing the artillery position. The entrance doorway to the enclosure is at ground level in the east wing. The north wing has a large fireplace that was probably used to heat cannon balls until they became red hot; they were then fired at the enemy’s wooden ships to set them alight. On the other side of the island is an old building that was once the o#cers’ mess. There are two water tanks close by. The white towers are signs for shipping.

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Location: Sanitja HarbourTown: Mercadal

Owned and managed by: Coastal authority

40º04’24,34’’ N 4º05’02,47’’ E

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A smaller British coastal defence tower dating from the late 18th century. It once defended a cove protected from the north wind that was an important harbour known as Sanisera in classical antiquity (1st to 3rd centuries).The tower was built from stone and mortar with vertical lines of reinforcement masonry. It had three floors, with the entrance at middle floor level. A doorway was later opened on the ground floor that opened up into an octagonal space consisting of three rooms with barrel vaulted ceilings, used as storage for gunpowder, spares and other materials. The ground floor connected with the middle floor via a trapdoor in the ceiling, as these smaller towers had no stone staircase. The middle floor was linked to the terrace via a chimney cut into the ceiling of the entrance passageway, which has partially collapsed. The circular upper terrace is surrounded by a parapet edged by two stone ridges, upper and lower, on the outer surface of the tower and there would also have been an artillery piece mounted on a central revolving platform.The tower is in very poor condition, especially the original entrance doorway and the machicolation for defending the doorway from above. The remains of a building can also be seen in the area near the tower, probably accommodation for dragoons, cavalry soldiers who carried messages from the towers when bad weather prevented smoke signals from being sent. They also patrolled blind spots that could not be seen from the tower.

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TOURS BY APPOINTMENTLocation: Plaça de l’Almirall Ferragut

Town: CiutadellaOwned and managed by: Ciutadella Town Council

Telephone: 971 381 050Web: www.ajciutadella.org

40º04’24,34’’ N 4º05’02,47’’ E

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A coastal defence and watchtower that was used to keep watch over the Ciutadella Harbour entrance and was built from plans drawn up by military engineer Josep Castellón between 1680 and 1682. It was named after the little chapel that once stood on the same spot.The building has an octagonal layout and stands on a rocky plinth. The moat running round the tower is crossed via a wooden bridge in front of the doorway. The entrance is decorated with a caryatid and an atlante topped by three royal coats of arms, made in 1990 to replace the originals, which were in very poor condition. The tower is surrounded by a moat excavated from the rock and measuring 8 metres across by 2 metres deep. The inside is reached via a rectangular doorway with a lintel decorated in the Baroque style. Inside, a central pillar supports the roof on which the artillery platform was built. There is also a spiral staircase set into one of the side walls and leading to the other floors.

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Location: Sa Caleta Residential Complex

Town: Ciutadella

Owned and managed by: Ciutadella Town Council

Telephone: 971 381 050

Web: www.ajciutadella.org

39º58’50,11’’ N 3º49’54,32’’ E


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This is one of the defence towers built by the British between 1799 and

1802 to defend the island’s coves and support the castle of Sant

Nicolau against possible enemy landings.

It has a circular layout and is built in a conical shape. It is surrounded

by a 6-metre wide moat and an embankment of loose stones.

The tower was built of stone and mortar, with an outer layer of regular

blocks of the local “mares” stone (a type of limestone). Unlike other

defence towers, the tower is accessed via an underground corridor

linking the ground floor with a counterscarp underneath the


The tower also has a series of 12 loopholes on the ground floor that

would have been used to defend it against possible land attack.

It stands 8 metres high and the parapet of the terrace juts out from

the wall all the way round. One or two artillery pieces would have been

positioned on the upper floor. As the artillery terrace was slightly

sunken, when seen from the sea it would not have been spotted by

enemy ships. The tower would have been mistaken for a small fort,

making it much more dangerous and e!ective.

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Location: Camí Algaiarens, km 3. CiutadellaTown: Ciutadella

Owned and managed by: PrivateTelephone: 971 480 512

Web: www.torredenquart.com

40º04’24,34’’ N 4º05’02,47’’ E

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The tower of En Quart is one of Ciutadella’s most characteristic defensive buildings. It is an ancient possession received by Father Bernardo Quart from King Alfonso III. The family obtained their noble rights through Juan Quart in 1579 but they were terminated in the late 17th century.Menorca's rural architecture is incredibly varied, but buildings with towers are rarely seen in the island’s countryside. The tower was the only immediate defence that the local inhabitants of more remote rural areas could rely on in the event of a pirate attack. When this strategic function was no longer needed, the tower did not have to stand in an isolated spot and could be made into part of the town.Its solid and powerful appearance makes it stand out from the other buildings adjoining it and it is a real landmark in the flat terrain surrounding it. The ground floor has a rectangular layout and the roof is marine stone. At one end is a staircase leading to the floors that were once used as a grain store. The outer walls of the tower were originally stone and mortar with vertical trimmings, and were reinforced with very broad buttresses standing at di!erent heights.The building is very plain and has no fancy decorative elements like the ornamental work on the tower of Saura or the top of the tower of S’Argossam.

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Location: Plaça Explanada

Town: Es Castell

Owned and managed by: Consorcio del Museo Militar de Menorca y

Patrimonio Histórico Militar (Consortium of the Military Museum of

Menorca and Historic Military Heritage)

Telephone: 971 362 100

Web: www.museomilitarmenorca.com

39º52’46,63’’ N 4º17’24,49’’ E


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The Military Museum of Menorca occupies the old Calacorp barracks (home of the Costa de Menorca Artillery), built by the British in the late 18th century in Es Castell. The Museum consists of two floors and nineteen rooms tracing the history of Menorca, especially its military history, from prehistoric times up to the present day. There are some particularly interesting displays on the 18th century and the various occupations of the island by foreign powers. The magnificent collection includes old cannons, models of the island’s fortifications, models of ships, of portable weapons, and the like.Sant Felip has a section on its own. The Carlos III and Isabel II rooms are also fascinating, the former containing displays on how Menorca was seized back for Spain and the latter on the fortress of La Mola. There is also a room on the topic of Civil War fortifications on Menorca (1936-1939).Over time, the Museum collections were expanded with the contents of libraries and archives from military units that were gradually being dissolved. This meant that the Museum had to set up its own library and archive, holding more than 700 plans from the Engineering Corps based onMenorca.Touring the Military Museum enables visitors to get a feel for the various periods and foreign occupations that have shaped the character of Menorca’s people.

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Location: First floor of the cloister of El Carme. Plaça Miranda, 5

Town: Maó

Owned and managed by: Maó City Council

Telephone: 971 350 597

39º53’19,31’’ N 4º15’57,96’’ E

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In 1983, distinguished professor Joan Hernández Mora donated his

magnificent collection to the city of Maó. The collection consists of a

large number of furniture items, objects and pictures, all from

Menorca, plus a well-stocked library containing practically everything

ever published about Menorca or written by Menorcan authors. In

1987, Maó City Council installed his legacy in one of the rooms in the

cloister of El Carme, as a museum and library. The overall layout of the

museum is designed to look like the inside of a Menorcan house. The

books, papers and other exhibits are arranged chronologically in all the

rooms, starting with the 18th century through to 19th and 20th

century publications, although three of the collections stand on their

own: the characters gallery, the map collection and works by his

relatives. The characters gallery contains around thirty portraits, most

of which are prints, but there are some oil paintings and photographs

of leading figures such as British, French and Spanish governors and

soldiers, including Lannion, Kane, Murray and Cifuentes. The map

collection is superb, with seventy exhibits of watercolour tinted prints.

The maps are split into three sections, from the more general ones of

the Mediterranean and the Balearic Islands, to the more detailed, such

as the plans for the castle of Sant Felip, plus a wide range of maps of

Menorca. The oldest map shows the islands in 1534.

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Location: Pla des Monestir

Town: Maó

Owned and managed by: Balearic Islands Government

Telephone: 971 350 955

Web: www.ajmao.org

39º53'27,88'' N 4º15'39,78'' E

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The museum is based in the old Franciscan convent that dates from

the late 17th century and early 18th century. The convent was

dissolved in 1835 and the building later underwent restoration work

lasting 25 years before being re-opened to the public in the early 21st

century. The small cloister is now an inner courtyard in which arts and

cultural events are held during the summer. The ground floor, arranged

around the cloister, is split into rooms housing temporary exhibitions.

The permanent exhibition occupies the first floor, with displays on

prehistory through to the arrival of the Romans, and the second floor,

concentrating on the medieval period through to the 20th century.

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On the second floor, room 2 contains exhibits from 18th century

Menorca under British rule, with two brief periods of French and

Spanish occupation. It was a time of upheaval, but also of cultural

splendour, especially in the fields of painting and literature. Intense

economic and military activity was concentrated on the edge of the

Maó Harbour during the 18th century, which is reflected in the large

number of paintings produced at the time. Some of the paintings

depict the castle of Sant Felip, the shipyards and the Llatzeret. Room

4 is given over to maps of Menorca, and the island’s strategic

importance can be seen very clearly from the sheer number of maps

made by European powers showing the island and its harbours and


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Location: Illa del Llatzeret (Llatzeret Island)

Town: Maó

Owned by: Ministry of Health

Telephone: 902 929 015

39º53'27,88'' N 4º15'39,78'' E

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The arrival of the Bubonic plague on Menorca’s shores from ships

coming in from the East and from northern Africa prompted the

Count of Floridablanca, Minister of King Carlos III to commission the

building of the Llatzeret in Maó on the King's orders in 1793.

This unusual historical building complex was originally meant as a

sanatorium where patients could be quarantined during the constant

outbreaks of Bubonic plague. The British government had already built

a small complex on what was known as Illa de la Quarantena

(“quarantine island”), which was used in the 19th century when the

harbour became severely congested.

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The sanatorium was opened in 1817 and was closed down after a

century until, years later and following some refurbishment, it was

converted into a venue for meetings and for national and international

conferences. It is also a place where visitors can get a sense of what life

was like in the 19th century, thanks to the wonderful spaces and

buildings that have been preserved all over this small island.

The complex was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1993 and is

in one of the most beautiful places on the Menorca coast, on a small

island in the centre of the harbour of Menorca's administrative capital.

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Location: Carrer Sant Roc y Plaça Bastió

Town: Maó

Owned and managed by: Maó City Council

Telephone: 971 369 800

Web: www.ajmao.org

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The first set of walls was built around the old castle, the original centre of the city of Maó. Following the conquest of Menorca, the Catalans started to build the new walls on the orders of Pedro IV in 1359. They were made of stone and mortar and stood around 8 metres high and 1.5 metres wide with no embankment, a classic medieval wall. Inside, a narrow street followed the wall around the city. Gateways were set into the wall at intervals, allowing access to the city from the outside. Towers were also built along the length of the wall as part of the city defences. One of the entrances was the bridge of San Roque, which was also known as “Portal de Arriba” (the upper gateway) to di!erentiate it from the “Portal de Abajo” (the lower gateway) on Isabel II Street, and was the exit used for the road to Sant Climent and Ciutadella. This is the only surviving section of the wall. What you can see today are two square towers of di!erent heights, with solid walls of stone and mortar with reinforcements of local “mares” stone (a limestone quarried on Menorca) and topped with machicolations. Between the towers, a passageway over the doorway allowed defenders to pass along the entire length of the wall. When the city began to spill over the confining walls, they lost their defensive power and the towers became living accommodation. Extensions were added to them and houses were built adjoining them. The site has recently undergone restoration work, which has removed a building from between the two towers and given them back their original appearance.

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Location: Pla de sa Font

Town: Ciutadella

Owned and managed by: Ciutadella Town Council

Telephone: 971 380 297

Web: www.ciutadella.org

39º53'27,88'' N 4º15'39,78'' E

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The bastion belongs to the walled precinct of Ciutadella and was built during the 17th century on the site of the old medieval wall dating from after the 1287 conquest. The medieval wall was in very poor condition following Turkish plundering in 1558. The bastion of Sa Font was completed in 1692 to protect the gateway of the same name, which was demolished in 1889. It has always been used to store tithes. Once its military role had ended, it passed into municipal control in 1881 and in 1902 it was leased for use as a factory for making acetylene lighting. Up until 1986 it was used as a tap water supply tank. In May 1995, after being restored, it was opened as the headquarters of the Municipal Museum of Ciutadella in Menorca.

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Location: Ciutadella Harbour Paseo marítimo

Town: Ciutadella

Owned and managed by: Ciutadella Town Council

Telephone: 971 380 297

Web: www.ajciutadella.org

39º53'27,88'' N 4º15'39,78'' E

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The medieval wall around Ciutadella was built in the 14th century after the town was made part of the kingdom of Aragón. It was designed to imitate the city walls at Perpignan although there was another wall protecting the Islamic Medina and that was separated from the old citadel. This wall was in very poor condition after the Turkish plundered the town in 1558, prompting the authorities to order a new wall to be raised in the 17th century along the same route but adapted to accommodate new artillery weaponry. The bastion of Sa Font and the Governor’s bastion are the only two remaining sections of that old wall, after most of it was demolished in the 19th and 20th centuries to make way for the town's relentless growth. The town council building stands on the site of the residence occupied by the Governor of the island, after whom the bastion is named.

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