MENORCA - Introduction
the 7th of December 1993, the island of Menorca received the highly
acclaimed status of International Reserve of the Biosphere, by UNESCO.
This being an acknowledgement of the harmony between the island's
socio-economic development and the continued efforts towards the
conservation of the environment.
at the eastern extremity of Spain's Balearic Island archipelago,
in the centre of the western Mediterranean basin, Menorca remains
the least known and most remote island of the Balearics. Although
it is the second largest of the archipelago, it is small in comparison
to the main island of Mallorca, with a surface area of only 701
sq.km and measuring 49 kilometres in length by an average of 16
kilometres in width. Its population is also low at 72000.
known island is of incomparable natural beauty. Having remained
largely unchanged by the tourism boom of the 70's and 80's, it is
today the most unspoilt island of the Balearic archipelago, retaining
an almost untouched natural environment and a high degree of tranquillity.
This little disturbed natural setting, of which over 40% is now
protected, hosts the majority of Mediterranean ecosystems, including
several species of flora and fauna that are unique to the island.
north coast - Cala Pilar
cliffs - south coast
Menorca has two well defined zones, separated by a fault line running
through the centre of the island from the port of Mahon, its capital,
in the south east, to Cala Morell on the north west coast. To the
north of this line, the island is composed of a complex mixture
of older rock formations, dating back almost 400 million years to
the Devonian period of the Primary or Palaeozoic era. This is the
most markedly wild and hilly area of Menorca, where much of the
rugged north coast is only easily accessible by boat, where the
few beaches are mostly of reddish sand, and many of the rock formations
are deep red or of grey slate as is most pronounced along the east
coast, notably at Cabo Favaritx.
To the south of this fault line, the countryside has a much more
gentle aspect. This predominantly flat limestone plateau is composed
of much younger sedimentary rock dating back less than 25 million
years. It is in fact a portion of seabed that had been forced upwards
during the formation process of the island, an area which contains
many fossils of bottom dwelling marine life.
Although mostly flat, this limestone plateau has some interesting
features in that there are several deep gorges or canyons cutting
through it. Canyons carved into the soft limestone by ancient rivers
that once drained the island's hilly north, at times when rainfall
was much more abundant, perhaps toward the end of the last Ice Age.
With the exception of the low lying marshland and sand dunes fringing
the long sandy beach between Son Bou and Santo Tomas, much of the
south coast features an almost continuous series of high cliffs,
indented only by occasional small creeks together with a number
of truly magnificent turquoise coves, where the beaches are of fine
white sand and surrounded by dense pine forest.
coastline, is however specially unique in that it has a great
number of caves and cavern systems, many of which still remain
undiscovered or unexplored, both under the sea and inland.
In contrast to this, the north coast has very few caves and caverns,
excepting the area between Addaya and Arenal d'en castell and
along the headland to the east of Fornells, where the enormous
cave complex known as Na Pollida is to be found. One of the most
fascinating aspects of these caves are the beautiful golden formations
of stalactites and stalagmites that are found in all but a few,
both below and above sea level.