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Two Ts, please: Torre Blanca and Torre Llisa Vell

2 June

More from Menorca...

Torre Blanca, also known as Sa Torreta de Tramuntana, is an unusual monument as it lies in the northern half of the island, above Mahon towards Es Grau. It lies on an outcrop of limestone at the point where the geology seems to change to something more slate-like.

We'd see it on a couple of basic maps and thought we'd have a crack at finding it, despite having absurdly inadequate directions, having the kids with us, it being midday and very hot, and haing to go a long way from our favourite beach….

Our initial attempt took us up to the Favortx lighthouse in the national park, too far north. Our second attempt was more successful. Follow the main road north for about 5.3 kms after the roundabout leaving the Mahon ringroad. Then turn right by a small white building with orange painted detail and then immediately fork right. This leads us down a long narrow lane which eventually turns sharp right. Here a gate finally barred us from going any further. Privado. We parked, knowing we were close. Moth went stomping off for a look around.

A car pulled up. A man opened the gate and drove through. As he closed it I asked 'Torre Blanca?' He replied in Spanish which I didn't understand. He pointed and twiddled his fingers implying that we walk in the direction he was pointing. 'Gracias.' Not having a clue how far, we set off into the midday heat. Moth caught up having also asked the man for directions. After a pleasantly warm walk perhaps 1-1.5kms uphill we reached the farm, vaulted over the gate and asked a farm labourer who pointed behind the barn. Suddenly it was there. What a result!!!

From the top of the talaiot the views stretch over the tiny fields towards a bay and down the coast as far as Mahon, rocky land tumbling into the sea. Magic.

And the taula! Wooo! Great taula! Dinky and entirely self supporting, thanks to the vertical ridge at the back as at Torralba, it has that cheese-like colouring on the front I so admired at Trepuco. We liked it here muchos.

Torre Llisa Vell
After a busy day snorkelling, Moth and me left the kids at the villa, determined to discover the truth about Torre Llisa Vell.

Travellers shouldn't confuse the real Torre Llisa Vell with So Na Caçana, as Julian did in TME. The real one is a couple of fields north from So Na Caçana, as the hoopoe flies.

We had been very kindly given a map with all the monuments on, which specified complete taulas. Studying this and the accompanying notes in conjunction with TME, revealed an inconsistency which we couldn't understand. The map clearly stated their was a complete taula sanctuary at Torre Llisa Vell. Julian's notes for Torre Llisa Vell said there wasn't. The notes with the map also had separate sections on So Na Caçana and Torre Llisa Vell. We had to find out the truth.

To find it, continue up the road from So Na Caçana towards Alaoir for about 1km at the most, until you reach a minor crossroads. Turn left here and drive 300ms until you see a gate on the left to a farm called Torre Llisa Vell. Walk down this lane for 100ms and ask the friendly old man at the farmhouse on the right for permission and directions. He doesn't speak English, but Moth got the gist.

By now you will have already sussed that the great tree-covered lump on your left is an overgrown talaoit and if you look carefully, you'll see the crest of what looks like a naveta beneath it on the northern side. Walk about 10 ms past the farmhouse and then turn left. After only a few metres the track enters an open field, but to the left is another short track only a few metres long. At the end and you'll see a gate and a break in the on the right. Go up towards the gate and through the break in the wall. Can't you already smell it? Walk 25 metres through long grass and a few trees until to th left, you see a huge wall with an archway. You'll find the taula through that archway.

The wall enclosing the taula sanctuary is very complete indeed – I have no idea if it has been restored or not, it certainly didn't look like it to me. It conforms to the standard ground plan of a horseshoe-shaped area with a slightly concave front entrance wall. In the case of Torre Llisa Vell the entrance is a beautiful corbelled arch through the wall which is an amazing 4ms thick. True!

Given that the entire sanctuary measures only – what? – 12ms in total, these walls seem totally out of proportion. They are also maybe 3ms high, so whatever went on within the sanctuary was not for general viewing. I also noted that the entrance passageway through the wall wouldn't have allowed the entry of a fully grown bull.

At least not a modern bull. P'raps they were smaller then, or they only sacrificed calves?

The T itself is a chunky beast and completely dominates the internal space. The stone forming the top of the T being thicker, heavier and wider in proportion with the vertical stone than at any other taula we saw.

From the top of the wall, you could see the poblat of So Na Caçana lying directly south, just about 400-500ms away.

This is a truly resplendent monument! We were both completely blown away and so sorry that Julian missed it. Be sure you don't. In fact, take your copy of TME now, go to pages 320 and 321 and cross out the title of the page 'Torre Llisa Vell' and replace with 'So Na Caçana'. There. Confusion over.

More Menorcan magic here...

Jane Posted by Jane
9th June 2005ce
Edited 24th November 2005ce

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