Purple Swamphen, Porphyrio porphyrio, also known as Sultana Bird, is a rare bird breading in Menorca in the last years with its large feet, bright plumage and red bill and frontal shield is easily recognisable in its native range.
Photographer: Barbara Salva.
Romans kept purple swamphens as decorative birds at large villas and
expensive houses. They were regarded as noble birds and were among the
few birds that Romans did not eat. A purple swamphen is depicted at the
bottom of the famous garden fresco from Pompeii.
Plinii the Elder already (AD 23 – AD 79), mentioned in his work Naturalis Historia that either Majorca and Menorca provided the Romans with those birds.
Alquerque is known to date back at least as far as 1400BC, since boards have been found cut into the roofing slabs of the temple at Kurna in Egypt. A game called Quirkat is mentioned in an Arabic work of the 10th Century AD.
The earliest set of rules is found in the 'Libro de Acedrex, Dados e Tablas', a magnificently illuminated manuscript compiled between 1251 and 1282 by order of the King of Leon and Castile, Alfonso X. The game's Spanish name, derived from 'El quirkat', was alquerque.
This stone carved alquerque board is located in Toraixer prehistoric site, in Es Castell.
The Sanitja port or Sanisera is a natural port
located next to the old roman town Sansiera. The port is in the
Caballeria cape and it has an approximately lenght of 800 meters and
very little depth which represent a perfect shelter against Tramuntana wind for boats.
port isn’t very exploited and you can barely see few little wooden
boats during high season. The entrance to the port used to be very
protected by the Sanitja Tower, a british Tower of Defense built of stone and mortar in 1801. The inside of the tower can’t be visited because over time, it has deteriorated significantly and it’s almost demolished.
The scientific name, Malva sylvestris,
is just as lovely as this flowering plant in the Malva genus, and is
more popularly known as high mallow or common mallow. This plant is often found in fields and hedgerows and has a striking purple flower. It is native to western Europe, but has
spread to portions of the Mediterranean and northern Africa, and has
been imported to much of the English-speaking world.
The flowers and leaves of this unique herb are used for medicinal purposes, particularly in topical applications as a pain reliever.
Although I am
not a particularly religious person, I can not ignore the feeling of huge hurt and compassion shown in the processions of Holy Week in any
town in Spain.
In Menorca, many people take part in
the processions, either as Nazarenes, wearing their long tunics and hidden faces, or as part of the brotherhoods of
centurions (representing the Roman soldiers who executed Jesus), or
as components of the bands of drums and sacred music that accompanies
Our Lady of Solitude is one of the best-known and most widely-followed images in the town.
The large group of brotherhoods, with their images, is really overwhelming.
Take your seat as the action begins and get transported to 17th-century Scotland and let the talented Orchestra Simfónica de Les Illes Balears and the Royal Opera de Valonia (Liegge) take you on an exhilarating, high-drama flight of murder and
madness. From secret rendezvous between lovers and tragic duels at dawn
to the chilling bel canto notes of the unhinged bride in
Lucia's aria "Il dolce suono," this tale of star-crossed lovers unfolds
entrancingly over three captivating acts.
Friday June 2nd at 9 PM and Sunday June 4th at 8 PM
Binifaell vell is the name of a farm that has existed for hundreds of years near Sant Climent. According
to the inventory of archaeological sites in Menorca, there are the
ruins of a Talayot of considerable size in their lands, so this morning I
took advantage of the day to get there.
I have not been able to find the talayot. Although
ancient ceramic remains are seen in different places and even a 'moló',
which is a prehistoric hand mill, I have had to settle for
photographing the old farm building and the flower of chicory.
Common chicory, Cichorium intybus is a perennial herbaceous plant of the dandelion family Asteraceaeusually with bright blue flowers. It lives as a wild plant on roadsides in its native Europe, and is now
common in North America, China, and Australia, where it has become
The chicory plant is one of the earliest cited in recorded literature. Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: "Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae" ("As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance"). It is not only an edible plant as it has also traditional medicinal uses.
Anacamptis pyramidalis is practically present on the whole island. At the beginning of summer, it often makes large colonies in meadows.
red-violet spike, conical at blooming, is quite distinctive. Flowers
are numerous, close to each other showing a three-lobed lip and bearing
some small lamellum-shaped excrescences at base. These lamellae are
useful in guiding the proboscis of pollinating butterflies.
According to the wikipedia this orchid is especially common on the Isle of Wight and was designated the county plant in 2008. In Menorca is quite common too.
The dried and ground tuber gives a fine white powder, called salep.
This is a very nutritious sweet starchlike substance. It is used in
drinks, cereals and in making bread. It is also used medicinally in
diets for children and convalescents.
The cattle egret is a popular bird with cattle herds for its well known role as a biocontroller of cattle parasites like flies and ticks.
The presence of this bird in Menorca has gone from being sparsely wintering to abundant and sedentary in the last years.It can be seen in the newly plowed fields and accompanying the herds of cattle grazing in the meadows.
This Menhir, or standing stone, is very close to the prehistoric settelment of 'Torralba d'en Salort'. I
have no doubt that it is in one way or another linked to it, althought menhirs are not frequent among the works of the Talayotic
culture of the primitive inhabitants of Menorca.
popular name 'Es Fus de Sa Geganta' means the Spindle of the Giantess
and refers to one of the many legends that are told about it.
Another one of those
legends speaks of a man of colossal dimensions that lived in the times
in which the natives constructed the megalithic Taulas and Talayots that so much
abound in Menorca. The inhabitants of the village worshiped
him for his strength and ability to work and that admiration made him
vain and arrogant.
The Gods, offended by
this vanity, buried him beneath the earth and only left him a finger
outside, pointing to the sky, pointing to the Gods who do not forgive
that humans, however powerful they may be, forget that they are just that:
One of the nine
farms that have that name that has an unmistakable Arabic phonetic root
and that, therefore, before the Spanish reconquest of the island,
that is to say, more than 700 years ago, there was already in this area
an extensive farm named Mussuptá.
It seems that winter is coming to its end and some changes are already perceived.
For years I had wanted to follow the trace of the malachite mineral that was extracted in Menorca from very ancient times. Experts say that mining has been carried out in the island from prehistoric times up until the end of the 19th century.
there is no clear evidence of this, the filon that alternates malachite
and lignite crosses the cliff and it is so colorful that it is not difficult
to think that these small nodules that of mineral that appear could be
collected and worked in small scale, as it happens in manyother prehistoric communities.
Copper mineral Thread
Malachite (a Copper Carbonate Hydroxide) is a famous semi-precious
stone. The stone's name comes (via Latin and French) from the Greek molochitis,
"mallow-green stone", from molochē, variant of malachē, "mallow". Its
banded light and dark green layers are so characteristic that malachite
is easily recognized, even by non-specialists. The beautiful green of
Malachite has been known for millenia. It was mined by ancient
civilizations, and when ground to a powder it was used as a pigment. Malachite is typically associated with copper deposits within
limestones (limestone being the source of the carbon in Malachite).
Malachite from Es Pla de Mar.
Thus, and based on
quotations from old archaeological works and more recent works on the history of
local mining, we were looking for ore veins in the area of Costa de
Alfurí, Cala Pilar and Bombarda until we found the old mines.
The Senecio rodriguezii
is an attractive small pink ragwort endemic to Mallorca and Menorca that loves the sea and
grows on the coastal rocks sprinkled by the waves.In
spite of its diminutive size does not go unnoticed, since its bright
flowers of a vivid white and pink color emphasize on the brownish gray
of the rocks burned by the sun and the salt.
After four weeks of unpleasant cold and wet, very wetdays, it seems that good weather has settled provisionally in Menorca.
I had wanted to revisit the area of Son Alberti and Biniarroi for some time. These
two farms that once were prosperous, when the countryside in Menorca
was productive and profitable, today are practically abandoned.
Son Alberti old farm
An old abandoned millstone is the witness of an activity that is lost today.
is proven that the area was already populated more than two thousand
years ago and in these lands rise a fortified redoubt that takes
advantage of a curious rock of difficult access. Probably
the first farmers of Menorca used the fertile lands at the bottom of
the ravines and with watchtowers like this they could watch their lands
and defend them if necessary.
The fortified hillock.
Two views of the valley that extends to the foot of the rock