Ciutadella is a pretty little place. It was founded by the Carthaginians, governed by the Moors for several centuries and was finally recaptured by the Spanish during the reconquista. In 1558, Turks captured the city and the 3000 odd surviving inhabitants were taken to Turkey and sold in the slave markets of Istanbul. Ciutadella remained the capital of Menorca until the British moved the capital to the eastern town of Mahon in 1722.
We parked the car near the Old Port and walked into Ciutadella. A little bridge connects the two banks of the narrow channel , lined with boats, that forms the Old Port. Steps lead up the hill to Placa del Born.
Placa del Born, Ciutadella’s main square is dominated by the fortress-like town hall. It was the palace of the Arab governor and later served as the Spanish royal palace and again, as a governor’s residence under the British until the capital was moved to Mahon.
The Obelisk in the centre of the square honours the townsfolk who died trying to ward off the Turks on 9 July 1558.
The old quarter of Ciutadella is a labyrinth of narrow, picturesque streets.
Ciutadella’s Catalan Baroque cathedral is right in the middle of the old town. It was constructed on the orders of King Alfonso III of Aragon “the Liberal”, the conqueror of the island, in 1287 on the site of an old mosque.
The city’s small fish market is set in a pleasing 1895 building with elegant green and white check tiles. It is one of Spain’s few remaining examples of 19th century cast-iron architecture.