Castle of Santa Águeda

In 903 the Balearic Islands became part of the Muslim world when Issam al-Khawlaní annexed them to the Caliphate of Cordoba. The Catalan troops under the command of Alfonso III disembarked in the Maó Harbour on 17 January 1287. Hundreds of Menorca's inhabitants abandoned their fields and took refuge with the Muslim leader in the castle of Santa Águeda, where they surrendered on 21 January.
Between the 10th and 13th centuries, one of the biggest and most important defensive complexes of Al-Andalus was built on the summit of Santa Águeda mountain. The castle gave panoramic views over almost the entire districts of Hasmaljuda (the municipal area of Ciutadella) and Benissaida (Es Mercadal and Ferreries), most of the north-west coast and the capital city of Medina al Yazira (Ciutadella). The fortification consists of three enclosures covering a total area of 6.5 hectares, 1,800 metres of outer walls and 37 towers, around ten of which still survive in reasonably good condition.

The oldest towers are rounded and the newest are square (and were often built to strengthen the round towers). The enclosures were self-contained but were connected with each other. The first two were built around the 10th century and were renovated over successive centuries, while the third probably dates from the 13th century.
The purpose of the castle was to defend the territory and especially the ports on the northern coast. The choice of location would have taken into account the proximity of the seat of political power, providing a place of refuge for the authorities if the need arose. The enclosures were large enough to provide shelter for people coming in from the surrounding countryside. As well as being a permanent barracks, the castle was likely to be a well-populated town.

During the early years of the Catalan conquest, the castle continued to operate as one of the island’s main military fortresses. Despite this, by the 14th century, fortified town centres open to the sea were becoming more popular and so the castle gradually fell into disuse. After the conquest, some of its buildings were maintained, such as the church, which was eventually converted into a country home; later, on the north side, the stable, the threshing floor and a water tank, possibly already used in Muslim times, were also kept in good repair.The castle can be reached by following the Camí dels Alocs until you get to the old rural schools. Then, continue on foot, passing what looks like a Roman path, but in fact dates from medieval times.

More information:

Location: Camí dels Alocs. Main road Maó – Ciutadella.
Town: Ferreries
Owned by: Consell Insular de Menorca
Managed by: Consell Insular de Menorca
Telephone: 902 929 015

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