The “Isla del Rey” is one of Minorca’s most famous islets. Triangular in shape, it is located in Mahón harbour and home to great attractions.
Visiting this small island has become a must for those spending their holidays in Minorca. The reasons for this are several and this time it has nothing to do with the beaches and turquoise waters but rather culture, art and history. Read on to find out more.
Minorca’s British past
To learn about some of Minorca’s British history, it is well worth visiting the eighteenth-century military hospital built by the British when the island was under their rule. The hospital was in operation until the 1970s and is now managed by the Fundación Hospital de la Isla del Rey which works to protect and conserve the island and promote its historical legacy. The building comprises a museum, an interpretation centre and a library.
A Paleochristian basilica
The island is also home to the remains of a building constructed between the late fifth century and the sixth century, discovered by chance at the end of the nineteenth century. A great opportunity for fans of archaeology, the building comprises a single chevet with three naves paved with mosaics and featuring pillars and columns. There are also remains of a baptismal font, ceramics and the ruins of a Roman villa. A true gem that is well worth a visit.
The art gallery Hauser & Wirth
Several years ago the prestigious international art gallery Hauser & Wirth decided to use part of the disused hospital as a centre dedicated to art, education and conservation. The ambitious project, combining different creation techniques, has enjoyed the collaboration of various artists. The centre, which spans an area of 1,500 square metres, opened with great expectation in 2021 and launches its 2023 programme in spring after remaining closed for several months in winter. On 2 April it opens with the group exhibition Después del Mediterráneo (After the Mediterranean), which brings together seven artists exploring the ecological and social challenges affecting the local environment.
Hauser & Wirth Menorca boasts eight galleries and an outdoor sculpture route featuring renowned artists such as Miró and Chillida. The complex is rounded off by gardens, a lively cantina and a shop where you can buy art publications and Minorcan crafts.
The island, full of surprises and marked by history, culture and art, can be reached on a short 15-minute journey by catamaran from Maó harbour. A must visit that you should be sure to add to your list of places to visit during your stay in Minorca.
Get more ideas on what to do in the Ciutadella de Menorca Travel Guide.
Photo courtesy of the Fundación Hospital de la Isla del Rey