Alaior, the university city of Menorca

The University of the Balearic Islands has its central headquarters on the island of Mallorca, but over the years it has been establishing branches on the other islands. In Menorca, the city chosen to establish this headquarters was not its capital, Mahón, nor Ciutadella, another of the best-known cities. The chosen place was Alaior. Why was this small town in the interior of the island chosen?

Alaior, a university town in the Middle Ages?

Since 1398, there has been documentation in this Menorcan town of an institution called the University of Alaior. This data leads us to think that, indeed, Alaior was already a university town and, for this reason, it was decided to establish a UIB headquarters there.

The existence of this university would mean that Alaior was the third oldest in the Crown of Aragon —more than that of Barcelona, ​​Valencia or Zaragoza— and one of the oldest of all the ancient kingdoms that today make up Spain.

However, the records on the University of Alaior they did not refer to what we currently know as a university. Rather, it was a form of organization for population centers that lacked privileges or constituted bodies for their government.

Thus, since the 13th century, in the Crown of Aragon there were “universities”, which were nothing more than a kind of assembly in which the heads of families of the locality in question met to make important decisions.

Discarded the theory that it arose in the Middle Ages, What is the reason why this town was chosen as the headquarters of the University of the Balearic Islands?

Alaior, mix of cultural and natural heritage

Since the human occupation of the island of Menorca between 2200 and 1000 BC, Alaior has always been populated. Despite this, it was not until the Catalan-Aragonese conquest in 1287 that the population of the island was concentrated in villages.

It was at this time that the town of Alaior was created. Documentation from the year 1301 attests to the existence of the Parish of Santa Eulàlia, a figure to whom the church built on top of a hill was dedicated. This is the church that we can admire today, that of Santa Eulàlia, and around which the town of Alaior was built.

Some of the unmissable buildings of Alaior

In Alaior, archeology lovers will be able to enjoy different sites. They will have the opportunity to visit prehistoric settlements such as Torralba d’en Salort or Torre d’en Galmés, as well as the paleo-Christian basilica of San Bou or the necropolis of Calascoves, a space that was in operation from the 9th to the 2nd century BC.

Parish of Santa Eulalia

As we pointed out, at the beginning of the 14th century there were already documentary records of the parish of Santa Eulàlia. Nonetheless, the building that we can see today was built between 1630 and 1690. It seems that some elements of the previous building were maintained, such as, for example, the archivolts of the lateral façade or the main wall.

It is a simple but beautiful construction in the Renaissance style with certain baroque elements. It has a single nave floor plan with a barrel vault supported by transverse arches; in it we find six side chapels. It is worth mentioning the size of the church, as it is the most spacious on the island.

Its main façade stands out, formed by two superimposed rectangular bodies. Another element of interest is the baroque altarpiece of the main altar built by the Majorcan sculptor Joan Ribot.

It is a building that is characterized by its great robustness and it is not surprising, because due to the continuous attacks of Barbary pirates on the island, its inhabitants needed large and solid structures to take refuge.

Convent of San Diego and the Courtyard of Sa Lluna

The convent of San Diego was founded by Franciscan monks in 1623. This is a religious complex made up of a church and the convent itself. The architectural style used to build the complex was baroque.

The cloisters were one of the fundamental parts of the convents and, in San Diego, it is known as the Patio de Sa Lluna. This space, classified as an asset of cultural interest, is a patio surrounded by a structure of arcades in the center of which we find a well.

It should be noted that after the confiscation of Mendizábal in the 19th century, the convent passed into the hands of the State. It was used as a military barracks and as private homes. Currently, it has become a cultural space of the Alaior City Council.

Hermitage of Sant Pere Nou and chapel of Gràcia

The hermitage of Sant Pere Nou is a small construction located at the beginning of the so-called Camí Nou. The ground plan is a single nave, with three chapels on each side. Currently it does not offer liturgical services, but it is available for those who want to get married in it.

On the other hand, the chapel of Gràcia is a small church built near sa Plaça. It was built in the mid-16th century, but was rebuilt in 1734.

Today, it is the building where the tourist information office is housed. Therefore, there you can “kill two birds with one stone”: visit this chapel and find out about the activities that you can do in Alaior.

a bit of nature

In Alaior we can not only admire its architectural heritage, but nature lovers will have the opportunity to combine both. Thanks to the two cycle routes of more than 30 kilometers that exist in the municipalityfans of this activity will be able to feel the Mediterranean air on their faces.

The Rellotge or Cala en Porter ravine is one of the six largest ravines in the south of the municipality. Those who love to walk surrounded by nature will discover old bridges with great ethnological value, various orchards and, finally, one of the island’s greatest attractions, the beach.

On this occasion, the ravine flows into Cala en Porter. Surely after the walk you feel like a swim!

Platja de son Bou is one of the largest on the island and belongs to the municipality of Alaior. It is an area of ​​great ecological value, rich in animal and plant species.

Who wouldn’t go to study in Alaior?

Many students are forced to leave their hometowns and move to study in other places. Although for many it is an uncomfortable situation, it can also be interpreted as an opportunity to discover new cities and cultures.

If this is your case, after making this brief tour of the university city of Alaior, you could well consider it as the perfect place to start your university studies.

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