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The monumental legacy of the Talayotic culture preserved in Menorca has just been declared a World Heritage Site. The Balearic government had submitted its candidacy a decade ago under the slogan "Menorca Talayótica. An insular Cyclopean odyssey," with the aim of making this archaeological heritage known to the world and helping to preserve the Talayotic footprint that survives on the island. The inclusion was announced during the 45th meeting of the UNESCO Committee held in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). The Menorcan archaeological ensemble now becomes the 50th Cultural Heritage recognized as World Heritage in Spain. The journey of the Talayotic monuments to become part of UNESCO began in 2010 with the launch of the candidacy by the Consell de Menorca, which had the support of the government of the Balearic Islands and the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport. However, it was not until a decade later that the initiative was formally presented during the celebration of the Historical Heritage Council of the Ministry of Culture in 2020.

Now, the novelty has been the selection of prehistoric Menorca as a World Heritage Site, which had the support of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), a non-governmental advisory body associated with UNESCO, which granted its final validation for the inscription on the World Heritage List. According to ICOMOS criteria, the candidacy of "Menorca Talayótica. An insular Cyclopean odyssey" possesses "outstanding universal value.... and meets the requirements of integrity and authenticity needed...", key concepts to be part of the prestigious United Nations list. This prehistoric Menorca (1600 BC-123 BC) is like a chronicle of this culture which, with a titanic effort, managed to raise numerous Cyclopean constructions on a small Mediterranean island. The declaration consists of nine territorial areas (about 5% of the island) that include 280 prehistoric sites, where the most important vestiges of this civilization can be contemplated. Together, these archaeological sites and their associated landscapes provide a window into the archaic insular cultures of this region of the western Mediterranean. And they are the 50th asset declared World Heritage in Spain, making our country one of the most recognized by UNESCO for the variety, richness, and quality of the legacy it possesses.

Long before the beauty of its beaches and inner countryside turned Menorca into the great tourist destination it is today, prehistoric cultures had already discovered the possibilities of this Mediterranean island. Its sites are silent witnesses to the presence on the island of prehistoric communities, developed from the Bronze Age (1660 BC) and the final European Iron Age (123 BC). The Talayotic culture takes its name from its characteristic constructions, the talayots, which it scattered across some 700 km2 of Menorca. These are structures with a slight conical shape that most archaeologists agree to describe as ancient watchtowers. They comprise large stone blocks, arranged in a spatial organization that suggests the presence of a hierarchical society, as well as the existence of networks with possible cosmological meanings. Other characteristic constructions of the Talayotic culture in Menorca are the navetas, enclosures shaped like an inverted ship and sometimes with a circular floor plan, which were collective funerary monuments. Also, there are taula sanctuaries, horseshoe-shaped buildings, with two stone blocks placed in the shape of a "T" and located in the center of the construction. They are believed to have played a ceremonial role. Hypogea were artificial curves and dwellings with roofs supported by pillars.

Delving into the Talayotic past of the island is one of the most interesting ways to discover the forgotten interior of Menorca, as its settlements were built far from the coast, a position easier to defend than facing the sea. With over a thousand sites across the island territory, choosing which one to visit is almost essential. In the eastern area, the settlements of Torre d'en Galmés – the largest on the island –, Torralba d'en Salort, Talatí de Dalt, and Trepucó are located. And in the west, the remains of Sa Naveta des Tudons, Son Catlar, Torrefullada, and the Cala Morell necropolis await. The route to visit these unique constructions constitutes a telluric experience that connects us with the most primitive Menorca.


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