Getting to know Menorca is a double joy. On the one hand there are tremendous differences between the north coast and the south coast with completely different landscapes which make one forget that only a few kilometres separate them. The same thing happens with the towns of Mahón & Ciutadella, one at each end of the island. These towns reflect the second big difference in Minorca, one proud and traditional, the other modern and commercial.
This gives great strength to Minorca, which is capable of harmonising everything together and giving it a unique character. This is the Minorcan character, forged from double opposing contrasts.
The north & south coasts, separated by no more than 15 kilometres, are incredibly different from each other. This is due to the different geological rock formations and to the strong northerly Tramontana wind.
On one side, in the south, streams & torrents have carved themselves into the soft chalk rock forming deep gorges. Heavenly white sand beaches with turquoise water and pine trees perched on the low cliffs at the mouths of these gorges are typical of the south coast.
In contrast on the north coast the rocks are much older, harder and darker. The Tramontana wind which blows fiercely during the winter months moulds and bows down the vegetation so that in the north we find a landscape with its own distinct character with solitary beaches having an extraordinarily evocative air.
A 45 kilometre long road joins the two ends of the island of Minorca. At one end, Mahón, a commercial town which has been the capital since the English occupation in the 18th century. Ciutadella at the other end, is the antique medieval town which today is home to an important tourist sector.
The layout of their areas of influence, radial in Ciutadella and much more compact in Mahón, reflect the social history of each. Ciutadella concentrates the ecclesiastic and noble powers of the Middle Ages, whilst the English-style rationalisation of the times set up its western Mediterranean colonial headquarters in Mahón.
Today these differences offer us a perfect division between areas, which, while not really existing at all in the formal sense, make it very easy to set out our Guide. The four areas, Ciutadella, the south, the north and Mahón. We explain them all more fully in our Minorcan Guide.