Holidays2Menorca.com

Did you know...?

You'll never be stuck for holiday conversation again! Bore friends and family around the pool with our collection of inane anecdotes and useless facts about Menorca.

Mayonnaise was invented in Menorca

Mahonesa

In 1756, Duke de Richelieu landed in Menorca with 20,000 French troops to root out Menorca's British rulers. During his stay the Duke's chef invented a new sauce, based on the local allioli recipe, which was served at the victory banquet in Paris. Mahonnaise was an instant success and has gone on to achieve world domination. The sauce's name became mayonesa in Spanish and mayonnaise in English, although some purists still prefer mahonesa to underline it's Menorcan origins.

Homemade mayonesa was proudly served in many of Spain's restaurants until an outbreak of salmonella in Valencia some years ago (caused by eggs left in the intense heat). Since then, restaurants serve only the commercial American version of the sauce.

Port de Maó is the second largest natural harbour in the world

Port de Maó

Local factmasters will tell you that Mahon harbour (Port de Maó) is the world's second largest natural harbour - second only to Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. However most sources show Sydney harbour is the largest with Rio, Halifax and Falmouth in joint second place.

Despite the truth, Mahon still has an impressive harbour stretching 5km inland, which has played a large part in Menorca's history.

Genoese admiral Andrea Doria (1468-1560) once said "June, July, August and Maó are the best ports in the Mediterranean."

The first language of Menorca isn't Spanish

The island's official language is catalan, a very ancient form of Spanish (akin to Scots English), with traces of French. Islanders also have their own Menorquín dialect that can confuse the unwary even more! Spanish is the language traditionally used to greet strangers and holidaymakers should continue to bring a Spanish phrase book. To sound like a local, walk slowly whilst nodding bon dia (good day) to all those you pass by.

Menorca is the first place in Spain to see the sun rise

Menorca is the easternmost island of the Balearics, and further east than the most eastern point of the Spanish peninsula. Given that the sun rises in the east, it isn't hard to figure out why Menorca sees the sun first each morning. (For the real anoraks, Cales Fonts is the most eastern point on the island.)

Menorca was the last place in Spain to fall to Franco

A public uprising one day after Menorca's military governor declared support for Franco's Nationalists gave the island to the Republican cause for the duration of the civil war from 1936-39. Menorca was the last place to fall to General Franco and the island suffered much retribution, including a ban on the local languages. During the Franco years, public groups of three people or more were broken up by the police as "illegal gatherings". Thankfully Spain returned to democracy in 1975 under King Juan Carlos I.

Admiral Byng was executed for failing to defend Menorca

British Admiral Byng is executed for failing to defend Menorca from the French

When the French landed in 1756, the British Admiral Byng withdrew after a brief naval skirmish and failed to support the island's defence. A year later he was executed by a firing squad of nine marines on the deck of the Monarch, his flag ship. The episode provoked the French writer Voltaire's famous remark (in his novel Candide) that in England "it is thought good to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others".

Mahon is the only city in Spain with Georgian architecture

The British governed Menorca from 1708-1756, 1763-1782 and 1798-1802 and left their mark across the island. Mahon is the only city in Spain to feature classical Georgian architecture, with traces of English design from the door knockers to sash windows (sadly being replaced by modern PVC windows!) British rule, especially under first governor Kane, is still fondly remembered on the island for the improvements it brought to Menorca.

Menorca has more beaches than Mallorca and Ibiza put together

Menorca has 220km of coastline and hundreds of natural beaches, although many are inaccessible by car. Read our guide to Menorca's beaches for more information.

Menorca was the first Balearic island to use wind energy

Turbines were erected at Milà to harness energy from the island's famous tramontana (prevailing northerly wind). Plans are under review for up to four more sites.

Local soldiers were paid in wine and women

During the Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome, the Carthaginians recruited Menorca's famous Balearic slingers to fight for them. These formidable men were paid handsomely in wine and women, although today the island's residents are paid mostly in Euros.

Juan Carlos' fishy treat

Fornells is renowned for its spiny lobsters, found in the local dish caldereta de llagosta (lobster stew). They are apparently so good that King Juan Carlos sails from Mallorca just to eat lobster there.

Bini is a Moorish word meaning "son of"

Menorca was under the Islamic rule of the Moors from 902AD-1229AD. Little remains of their stay but many place names still include the word "bini", e.g. Binibeca Vell.

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