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Alaior

Alaior—or Alayor, in Spanish—with a population of roughly 9,000 inhabitants, has traditionally been considered the third most important municipality in Minorca, in both a geographical and economic sense. Situated in the southeast of the island—neighbouring the municipalities of Es Migjorn Gran, Es Mercadal and Maó—the origins of Alaior date back to the late thirteenth century during the Christian Reconquest that King James II of Aragon led on the Balearic Islands.

The main urban area in the municipality, also called Alaior, was founded in 1304 on the site of an old Moorish farmstead, with the rural parish of Santa Eulàlia being the epicentre of its future development. These days, the striking church, adorned with both Baroque and Renaissance features, serves as a starting point for visitors for possible routes through the town. In the south, for instance, is the charming Plaça de la Constitució, the focal point of Alaior’s social life with its bars and traditional jaleo during the festivities of Sant Llorenç in August, and the Pati de Sa Lluna, an unusual Franciscan cloister converted into an open-air concert venue. Meanwhile, in the north there are countless examples of Alaior’s historical and cultural heritage, such as the former Town Hall, dating from the seventeenth century, the palace buildings of Can Salort and Santa Rita, these days used as the Minorcan campus of the University of the Balearic Islands, and the hermitage of Sant Pere Nou and its tree-lined square, which has priceless views of the town.

Founded as a stop-off point between the important towns of Maó and Ciutadella, the strategic positioning of Alaior meant that the whole region amassed extraordinary archaeological wealth over the centuries. Together with Es Migjorn Gran, the municipality is home to the most important prehistoric settlements on the island. To name just a couple, both Torralba d’en Salort and Torre d’en Galmés—two Talayotic sites which are over 3,000 years old—are less than 15 minutes away by car from the town of Alaior. Both are situated inland and in addition to appreciating the Cyclopean style of their constructions, a visit will allow you to view the stark contrast in landscapes between the inland plains and the precipitous limestone coast.

It is precisely in the south of the municipality, where the waters of the Mediterranean lap against the shore, where Alaior’s third main tourist attraction is found. Its beaches, closely linked to the recent emergence of residential areas and small tourist resorts, offer a good selection of services and are easy to access for visitors. Son Bou, the longest beach on the island with a length of roughly four kilometres, also offers the possibility of visiting the Palaeochristian Basilica that has stood at one end of the beach since the fifth century. The charming group of coves known as Cales Coves boasts a genuine necropolis from the Talayotic period, naturally preserved in the nooks of the cliffs. Finally, Cala en Porter, a natural cove at the mouth of a river, is home to the Cova d’en Xoroi club, a classic establishment in Minorca’s nightlife scene and a good place to sample the area’s gastronomy, with a special emphasis on cheese with the designation of origin Mahón-Menorca, sobrasada on bread, and Xoriguer Gin.

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