Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A trip to the Paleo-Christian Basilicas of Menorca (Spain)

an example of historic and religious tourism

1. What are the characteristics of this type of tourism?
Menorca is one of the Balearic Islands, located in the Mediterranean Sea, belonging to Spain. It takes its name from being smaller than the nearby island of Majorca. Menorca is mainly visited as a touristic sun & beach destination, but it's worth a historic and religious trip to discover the numerous archaeological sites, and among thouse, the Paleochristian remains.
Why? Because plus the well known Taulas and Talaiots, witnesses of the Prehistoric times, Menorca is an exceptional case in regard to the Early Christian Period. Five old basilicas have been found in Menorca: Illa del Rei, Illa d’en Colom, Fornàs de Torelló, Son Bou and Cap des Port in Fornells. Another possible one has been recently discovered in Ciutadella.
If you want more information about these sites, please watch to our video:

2. What should there be in the bag of the traveler performing this trip?
If you are in Menorca and you decide to take a trip to the main early Christian archaeological sites, you won’t need to pack lots of things in your bag. All these sites are easy to get by car, and none of them is far from a town or village. Just take a map of Menorca, and don’t forget a video or photo camera. Take a bottle of water, and a hat especially if you take the trip in summertime.
3. How can transportation be provided for this trip?
The fastest way to visit all the Paleochristian places is a private or hired car. But some places are very easy to get by walking, or by public transport (bus):
a) Son Bou: There is a regular bus from Maó and Alaior. Just check the timetable at www.tib.caib.es before your trip. The site is on the beach.
b) Es Fornàs de Torelló: You can go by walking from Maó or the small village of Sant Climent: A 30 min. walk from the center of Maó.
c) Illa del Rei: Ask for information in the ‘Club Marítim’, Port of Maó: every weekend there is a boat (free or very cheap) to transport visitors to the island.
d) Cap des Port: A 45 min. walk from the village of Fornells.
4. Where can the traveler accomodate during this trip?
Whether you take this trip in one day, as if you divide it in different excursions, you can go and back from the place where you stay in. Menorca is a small island, so the distances are not so long.
5. How long does this trip last? (Minimum time-day)
If you have your own car, you can complete the trip in one day. If you go by public transport or by walking, you’ll need half a day for each visit.
6. How much money is needed for this trip? (minimum)
You don’t need money to visit any of these sites. All of them are free. You’ll only have to pay 3,00€ if you visit the Museum of Menorca, in Maó, where you can see some of the pieces discovered in the paleochristian sites.
7. Why should a traveler do this trip? What will the traveler’s benefit be?
Menorca is an exceptional case, in regard to the paleochristian period, both because of the number of churches or basilicas discovered and because of the written documents dating from this period which have reached us today.
When in the Roman world the free practice of Christianity was permitted, suitable buildings celebrate its cult had to be build. Christianity extended throughout North Africa, eventually reaching the Belearic Islands, especially Menorca: in fact the paleochristian basilica at Son Bou has all the architectural features necessary to make it a “text-book” example of this type of church.
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