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Find information on Ciudadella in our Travel Guide covering sights, foods and nightlife plus more...
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Many of the holiday resorts in Minorca are purpose built and therefore lack the genuine atmosphere of the island and its people. Ciudadella, the former capital, offers much more than sand, sea and water sports. This charming old town is steeped in character. Those wishing to combine a cultural visit interspersed with lazy days on the beach will find that Ciudadella, with its close proximity to the western coast, is a perfect holiday destination.
Ciudadela has much more to offer than sand, sea and water sports. Be enthralled by the magnificent architecture of the island’s cultural capital or relax by the picturesque harbour.
A Ciudadella holiday attracts all age ranges with the exception of families with small children who generally choose a holiday close to the beach. It appeals to those with an interest in history and architecture and those who enjoy city breaks.
The holiday season in Ciudadella begins in April and lasts until late October with temperatures ranging from the twenties to the mid thirties.
Ciudadella has a medieval charm with its narrow cobbled streets winding away from its tiny harbour. It is built around a long narrow inlet on the western tip of Minorca and is one of the smallest ports on the island. The many pavement cafes and bars along the quay side are ideal for sitting in the sunshine watching the bobbing masts of the moored vessels. When the British moved the capital from Ciudadella to Mahon the nobility and the Church refused to go which left the city untouched by the architectural influences of the British or subsequent colonial rulers. Instead, it remains a Catalan city. The cathedral in the Plaza de Pio dedicated to St. John was built by Alfonso III on the foundations of an earlier mosque and dates from 1287. Unfortunately most of the interior of the church was destroyed during the Spanish civil war and much of what you see is restoration work. On the headland is The Castell Sant Nicolau, once a defence tower with drawbridge and moat and now a temporary exhibition centre. It is best visited in the evening as it is noted for its beautiful sunsets. Ciudadella’s only surviving 16th century windmill has been restored and there is a good view to be had from the top of the tower. An Augustinian Monastery close to the cathedral houses a museum holding, amongst other exhibits, old church vestments and chalices. The streets in the heart of the old city are filled with 17th century palaces, in some cases still owned by the same aristocratic families. The city’s main festival is in June in honour of St. John and lasts for two days with feasting, jousting and horse displays. There is a diving school in Ciudadella which caters for all levels of competency. There is also a yachting school with opportunities for boat hire. Those who wish to spend some time on the beach can take local buses to the nearby resorts of Cala n Blanes or Cala Santandria.
Although the nightlife in Ciudadella is livelier than in most Minorcan resorts it does not have any all-night clubs. The liveliest spot is down on the harbour where there are many bars and restaurants. The larger hotels often provide in-house entertainment with live shows.
Ciudadella has a variety of specialist shops and boutiques selling high quality goods. There is a daily market in the Piaza de Mercat and on Friday and Saturday in Piza de Esborn. There is a good choice of hand crafted articles including pottery, leather goods, paintings, embroidery and carpets.
Ciudadella has restaurants and bars to suit all tastes and pockets. There are many excellent fish restaurants, particularly down by the harbour, where you can savour the catch of the day speciality. Many tapas bars provide snacks between meals. Minorcans tend to eat later in the evening and the gap between lunch and dinner can seem long. At the end of the day, a Ciudadella holiday offers good food, fine wine and magnificent sunsets.