On a hill on the south coast, overlooking the Mediterranean, are the ruins of a village built in the Bronze Age. Elsewhere there are immense stone structures called Talayots that are remarkably similar to those at Stonehenge – and just as mysterious. And there are ancient stone funeral buildings that look like upside down boats and once held hundreds of bodies.
Menorca has the largest number of Bronze Age ruins in Europe. Let’s look at three.
The prehistoric village of Torre d'en Galmés, 5km south of Alaior, was believed to be home to getting on for 900 people about 3,000 years ago. Archaeologists say the ruins show the community once had watchtowers, houses, a village square, defensive walls, storage silos, workshops, kitchens and an amazingly sophisticated cisterns system for storing and filtering water.
The site has a helpful information film and interpretation panels in English. It also has the remains of three Taulas, the huge T-shaped structures. No one is sure what their purpose was. It could have been religious or astrological or both.
Two kilometres away from Mahon towards Sant Lluis is the largest Taula on the island, about 12ft tall. It’s at the Trepuco ancient site that may date back 4,000 years. As with Stonehenge, the experts are left marvelling at how Iron Age man managed to manoeuvre such enormous stones into position all those years ago.
Another site, Naveta des Tudons not far from Ciutadella off the Mahon road, is a 3,000-year-old tomb built of stone. It once held the remains of more than 100 bodies. Bronze jewellery, ornaments and pottery was found inside.
It’s one of a number of these ancient funeral buildings that get their name because they look like upturned boats, and the Catalan word for that is naveta. This one also has a love tragedy legend attached to it.
It’s said that two giants competed for the hand of a young girl. One was to build a naveta the other to dig a well. The well-digger won. The naveta builder had one stone left which he used it to kill his rival – and that’s why a stone is missing from the Naveta des Tudors.