Like Maó, CIUTADELLA sits high above its harbour, though navigation is far more difficult here, up a narrow channel too slender for anything but the smallest of cargo ships. Despite this nautical inconvenience, Ciutadella has been the island’s capital for most of its history, the narrow, cobbled streets of its compact, fortified centre brimming with fine old palaces, hidden away behind high walls, and a set of Baroque and Gothic churches very much in the Spanish tradition.
The main plazas, accommodation and points of interest are all within a few strides of each other, on and around the main square, Plaça d’es Born, in the middle of which a soaring obelisk commemorates the town’s futile defence against the marauding Turks in 1558. To the northwest, the square is bordered by the steep harbour walls, and in the northeast lies the vast nineteenth-century Palau Torresaura. Like many of the city’s grand aristocratic mansions, it is still privately owned and off limits to visitors.
Allow at least a couple of days, more if you seek out one of the charming cove beaches within easy striking distance of town – Cala Turqueta is the pick of the bunch.