Mahon - Capital of Menorca
Mahon, or also known as Maó, is the capital of Menorca, which is part of the Balearic Islands, which belongs to Spain.
About a third of the total population of Menorca, around 25,000 people, live in the capital. Mahon has a natural harbour and there are therefore various options for viewing the city from the water from a canal boat. The natural harbour is one of the main attractions of the city.
Places of Interest
The main square of Mahon is the Plaça d'Espanya
Around this square, you will find beautiful historic buildings that are definitely worth seeing if you are staying in the city or if you are visiting for a day during your holiday in Menorca.
There are two beautiful churches in Mahon, the Iglesia de Sant Francesc from the thirteenth century and the Iglesia de Santa Maria from the eighteenth century. This last church is one of the most important religious monuments in the city.
There is also the Menorca Museum located in the capital. Here you can view exhibitions about the people of Menorca over the centuries.
History of Mahon, Menorca, Spain
The Capital City of Mahon where people love walking through the historic areas whilst taking in the stunning Mahon Harbour which happens to be one of the deepest natural harbours in the world.
While nowadays, this city is a bustling centre for tourism and trade, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, this city was once riddled with destruction and suffering was once one of the most important military ports in the entire Mediterranean.
Here is a look at some of the tough history of Mahon and what this city has had to endure.
Many historians believe that the name of Mahon Menorca Spain comes from the Carthaginian general Mago Barca, who was the brother to Hannibal and who is thought to have taken refuge in the city during the year 205 BC.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, this city became part of the Eastern Roman Empire and an incredibly important port. Port cities were considered highly valuable at the time and they were being used as the main source of trade and transportation.
Unfortunately, as a result, it suffered a tremendous number of raids from both Viking and Arab expeditions. This continued for centuries until the city was finally conquered by the Islamic Caliphate of Cordoba in the year 903. Islamic Moorish rule lasted in Mahon until the year 1287 when it was eventually reconquered by Alfonso III, the King of Aragon. He made the city a part of the Kingdom of Majorca and also part of the Crown of Aragon.
The Crown of Aragon was a composite monarchy, which is to say a group of separate kingdoms all ruled under one king. This was a win-win situation for everyone involved as joining this composite monarchy provided the city with enormous protection while the city itself offered a brand new trade port for these kingdoms to take advantage of.
In fact, Mahon Harbour was considered one of the most strategically important in all of the western Mediterranean. Because of this, the Crown of Aragon decided that its refortification was necessary and provided the city with the extra protection it needed to stay safe for centuries more.
However, in the year 1535, Hayreddin Barbarossa led the Ottomans to attack Mahon in what would become known as the Sack of Mahon. The attack was a tremendous loss for Aragon as the Ottomans took over 6,000 captives back to the Algiers as slaves.
Under British Control.
The War of Spanish Succession lasted between the years 1701 and 1714 as a result of King Charles II dying without leaving behind a male heir. This led to a tremendous amount of unrest throughout Europe, with both the French Royal Family and the Austrian Hapsburgs having a claim to the Spanish throne.
However, England wanted to make sure that neither of these kingdoms had access to the riches and power of Spain and made a Union with the Dutch to conquer the important city of Mahon.
Of course, England quickly took note of the potential and profit that this city and the Island as a whole could offer and sought to gain full control which was granted in the year 1713 as a result of the Treaty of Utrecht. It was during this time that the city of Mahon has named as the capital which conveniently served as the residence for the Governor of Menorca.
During the year 1756, the island was lost to French control after what would later be known as the Naval Battle of Menorca. However, after the French lost the 7 Years War, the island was returned to the British in the year 1763, but this ownership wouldn’t last long. In the year 1782, the French and Spanish started a combined five-month invasion which took a massive toll on the island and the British eventually surrendered it. In 1783, control of the island was transferred back to Spain according to the Peace of Paris.
However, the British would eventually recapture the important port island in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars. Luckily, when the French and British decided it was finally time to end all the hostilities between them, they agreed to withdraw their militaries and claims from certain territories including the island of Menorca, which was finally passed back to Spain, where it has stayed ever since.
During the 20th century, Spain itself suffered through a terrible civil war. At this time, the entire island remained loyal to the Republic. However, it was captured by the Nationalists in the year 1939. Unfortunately, during the battle to capture the Island, Italian and Spanish Nationalist bomber planes bombed the city of Mahon Menorca Spain and destroyed many important historical sites. Luckily, a number of structures remained undamaged or easily repairable making it possible for tourists to still enjoy the wonders of this incredible city to this day.
The history of Mahon has been riddled with conquests, sieges, and battles. However, throughout all that terror this stunning city has also bloomed under the constant cultural influences and changing powers. If you take a trip to this city today, you’ll be able to walk through streets that seem to come from the pages of history books.
The city now serves as the seat of the Island Council of Menorca and quite a bit of effort has been made to promote tourism as a primary source of income for the island’s residents helping it to remain one of the richest port cities in all of Spain.
Keep this incredible history in mind and visit this beautiful island today.