Ciutadella, Menorca

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On the far western end of Menorca is the city of Ciutadella, the old capital of the island.

We spent two days here last week docked at the local yacht club.  The harbor and city’s historic quarter,  is surrounded by narrow medieval streets filled with palaces, churches and fortresses.

It is one of the two primary cities in the island, along with Mahon which we visited earlier.

Originally founded by the Carthaginians, it was already the seat of a bishop in the 4th century. Menorca’s violent history includes occupations by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Moors, British and French.  During the Middle Ages, it was an important trading center.

On 9 July 1558, the Turks with a powerful armada of 140 ships and 15,000 soldiers, put the city under siege for eight days entered and decimated the town. The town was defended by only a few hundred men. All of Ciutadella’s 3,099 inhabitants who survived the siege were taken as slaves to Turkey. In total, 3,452 residents were sold into slavery in the slave markets of Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey.

In 1708, the British came to Menorca, attracted by Mahon’s natural harbour, the longest and deepest in the Mediterranean. Apart from a short time when they were ousted by the French, they were to rule the island for a hundred years, finally relinquishing it back to the Spanish early in the 19th century.

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