Taking a wander through the City of the Dead does not seem like the average activity you’d normally consider doing after snapping up a cheap flight to Menorca. A tourist destination that is much more known for its pristine beaches and sleepy atmosphere, the island often plays second-fiddle to locations such as Rome and Egypt when it comes to history. It’s as though people believe the past is literally in another country when it comes to Menorca. And yet it is a mistake to believe there’s nothing here for history buffs – as you’ll discover if you read on. Alternatively, cut to the chase and start booking your holiday here.
One particular historical highlight is the Cala Morell necropolis, a labyrinth-like catacomb of caves, caverns and cavities in the wall of a particularly deep ravine. Mind you don’t fall in as you approach.
Despite the warning, Cala Morell is a fairly safe location to explore, although be sure to keep the kiddies within eyeshot if they’re particularly mischievous. However, even the youngest of sprogs cannot fail to be amazed at the rock-cut tombs, painstakingly created years ago by the people of this island as a means of sanctifying their dead. Their imaginations will be set alight by the spirit of exploration as you wander through the extensive caves, taking on the guise of Lara Croft or Indiana Jones.
Look to the past
As much as anything, the necropolis represents a great opportunity to educate your children on how people survived before the days of taps, cookers and PlayStations. While the tombs were primarily for the dead, some caves were later reused as living quarters. See if your kids can spot where the ancients stored their water or sat around and cooked food. This needn’t be a dull activity – try turning it into a game of I spy.
Cala Morell is home to a great deal of flora and fauna. Rough gorse bushes grow out of the rocks, their roots curling through the tough stones in search of water. Clumps of grass surround the entrances to the tombs themselves – making it the ideal place of residence for a variety of herbivores. If you’re lucky, you may spot a wild tortoise plodding its way through the undergrowth, chewing thoughtfully. Then there are the wall lizards, seemingly defying gravity by attaching themselves to the sides of the caves – and even sometimes the ceilings. These can be a source of endless fascination. See how many you can count before you reach the end of the necropolis.
But perhaps the most stunning aspect of Cala Morell is the sheer natural beauty of the place. Atop a rocky outcrop, you’ll find two gigantic tombs with window slots, as though the dead in these burial chambers had requested a room with a view upon checking in. These windows look out over the bay and all the way down to the sea, demonstrating the reason why so many people choose this island for a holiday. The view out to the horizon is simply awe-inspiring.