The island of Menorca is a privileged environment where nature, culture and gastronomy come together in an incomparable way; the closest thing to a paradise we can find in the Mediterranean Sea. You can enjoy this place in many ways and much better in good company. We propose an unbeatable formula to enjoy this island as a couple: Menorca for […]
Monte Toro, the highest point of Menorca
358 metres of altitude may not seem to be much for a mountain, but if it is located on a Mediterranean island of less than 700 square kilometers, it is. From the top of it you can see the entire perimeter of the island of Menorca, and on clear days you can even see the neighbouring island of Mallorca. Do you want to go up and enjoy the magnificent views that Monte Toro has to offer?
Legend has it that a bull used to guard the top of this mountain blocking out anyone who dared to approach it. But some monks dared to go up the mountain, attracted by mysterious lights that shone during the night. The bull went out to meet the monks and to chase them away, but seeing the crosses they were carrying he led them up to a cave where they discovered the image of a virgin since then known as “Nuestra Señora del Toro”. More “terrestrial” opinions suggest that the name of this popular Menorcan mountain comes from the word “tor”, which in Arabic refers to something high.
It is precisely the Virgen of Monte Toro Sanctuary – run until last March 2018, by nuns of the Franciscan Order of Mercy – a known pilgrimage site considering that the patroness is the patron saint of Menorca. Built in the seventeenth century (1,670) on the remains of an old Gothic church, we can find a wood carving of the virgin here. The floor of the church is a single nave with three chapels on each side. In one of them is the cave where the virgin was found, as well as the amphora where it remained hidden underground during the Civil War. The church is crowned by a small cúpula built on the transept and is open every day for pilgrims and visitors with free admission for everyone.
Next to the sanctuary we will find attached a solemn and robust defensive tower of rectangular shape, used in the past to alert the villagers of any possible enemy incursions. Although its current height is 10 meters, it is probable that in its medieval origin it was bigger. Until recently it belonged to the Ministry of Defense and the army used it to place antennas intended for military use; now it is being restored in order to open it to the public and it has been declared an Asset or Cultural Interest. A few meters away there is a large statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The access is easy (well asphalted and without narrowness, although with some important upswings in its brief route), and it has a wide parking ideal to leave your vehicle. It will take you 5, 30 or 60 minutes to top the hill from Es Mercadal (the nearest town) depending on the means of transport you choose for the ascent: car, bike or by foot. But do not worry! If you choose to walk up to Monte Toro you can regain strength in Sa Posada de Toro.
The town of Es Mercadal, about 3 kilometers from Monte Toro, is one of the prettiest villages in Minorca. There, the traditional fiestas of San Martín are celebrated, where the horses dance to the rhythm of the music in impressive “jaleos” eagerly anticipated all year long by locals and tourists.
Menorca is not only about the paradisiacal beaches and coves; there are also places must be visited in its interior such as the Monte Toro, one of the points where you can enjoy the best sunsets of the whole island. In addition, once on the top of the mountain and before nightfall, you can play “who sees it first” by trying to spot the bay of Fornells, the lighthouse of Artrutx or the beach of Son Bou first, among other points of interest.
One could say it is the roof of Menorca and the best view of the island, since with only one glance you can see the island almost in its entirety in a privileged bird’s eye view. But Monte Toro is also its geographical epicenter and certainly it is one of the places that you cannot miss on you next visit to Menorca.