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Cala'n Forcat Menorca

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Cala'n Forcat Tourist Attractions

The nearest offices of the Menorca Tourist Information Service (OIT - Oficines d'Informacio Turistica de Menorca) to Cala'n Forcat, are approximately 5km away in the former capital of the island Ciutadella, and can be contacted at:
Consell Insular de Menorca
Placa Catedral, 5
Ciutadella de Menorca
Telephone +34 971 382 693
Email: infomenorcaciutadella@cime.es

Despite what many people may think, fiestas on Menorca are not held purely for the benefit of tourists, and the origins of many can be traced way back to the 14th Century.

To the local residents, the word "fiesta" automatically conjures up images of horses and their riders, dressed in mainly black and white and decorated with ribbons, embroidery and multi-coloured carnations, also the consumption of “Pomada”, the local fiesta drink, which is a combination of gin and lemon, and finally “Coca amb Xocolati”, which is a traditionally baked cake with a sweet chocolate drink to accompany it.

A typical fiesta begins on the afternoon before the Saint's day with the horses and their riders meeting and parading through the streets before congregating at the church for Mass. In the evening there is often live music and traditional folk dancing, and then a magnificent firework display ends the celebrations at around midnight.

Although all fiestas on Menorca are something special, and are regarded by the local residents as a being a public holiday with only the bars and restaurants remaining open, the annual Fiesta of Sant Joan which is held in nearby Ciutadella on 23rd - 24th of June each year, is widely recognised as being the most spectacular on the island.

The fiesta always starts on the Sunday prior to the 24th June, and this is known as the "Dia des Be". On this day every year a countryman, dressed in lambskin similar to those worn by Saint John the Baptist, walks barefoot through the old streets of Ciutadella accompanied by the "caixers" (riders), who are also on foot, inviting everyone to the fiesta that is approaching.

On the 23rd of June at precisely 2pm, the fiesta starts at the palace of the "Caixer Senyor", with the playing of a flute known as the "flabiol". This is a simple flute made out of cane which, together with a small drum, permanently marks time for the duration of the celebration. The main events and the times of the fiesta are then:

23rd June:
Palace of the "Caixer Senyor"
Placa des Born, where horses and riders demonstrate their skills and elegance to the rhythm of the "jaleo", which is the typical music of the fiesta. During the "jaleo" the horses are encouraged to rear up onto their back legs whilst the local people (only the brave or very stupid ones!) try to support the horse, and keep it up for as long as possible.
The rural chapel of Sant Joan de Missa, which is 3km from the centre of Ciutadella.
The Calle de Ses Voltes, Plaza de la Catedral.
The narrow streets between Ses Voltes and the museum of the Bastio de Sa Font and Santa Clara.
24th June:
The trials for the Medieval games are held in the Placa de Sant Joan in the port of Ciutadella.
The "convidada" takes place. This is when the "noble rider" invites the town hall officials to view the games that take place an hour later. These "games" are the most spectacular and dangerous of the fiesta and only the most experienced riders are allowed to take part. They consist of three trials of equestrian skills. The first is the "Ensortilla", which is a test of equilibrium and aim, the second is the "rompre ses carotes", which is a jousting test between two riders, and finally the most dangerous test in which two horses set off on a gallop together, with their riders arm in arm.

The Fiesta of Sant Joan is not the only event in the Ciutadella cultural calendar. The first event of the year is the Fiesta of Sant Antoni which takes place on January 17th each year, when few, if any tourists are on the island.

The origins of this fiesta can be traced back to 1561, and is a three way celebration of Sant Antoni, the Processo dels Tres Tocs, which translates into English as the Procession of the Three Knocks, which commemorates the Christian conquest of Menorca by Alfonso III of Aragon in 1287, and finally the annual Ciutadella agricultural and craft fair.

The Processo dels Tres Tocs always begins with Mass which is held in the Catedral Basilica of Ciutadella, where the story of the conquest is included as part of the sermon. After Mass, the procession leaves the Cathedral led by three members of the municipal council riding horses and dressed in tails, waistcoats, white breeches, riding boots and wearing a "bicornio" which is a two-cornered hat.

The procession makes its way through the town to where the gate in the old walls used to be, where the the most senior rider dismounts and gives three knocks with a flag pole at the place where the gate was located.

On the same day the annual Ciutadella agricultural and craft fair is also held. This is widely recognised as being one of Menorcas most important agricultural fairs, although over the years it has also developed a more commercial theme. Nevertheless, there's still always exhibitions of local produce and handicrafts, along with displays of industrial and agricultural machinery.

Every year on the Thursday following Ash Wednesday, which by tradition is always 46 days before Easter, through to the following Tuesday, most of the larger towns on Menorca celebrate their annual Carnival. As with a fiesta, there's always a parade of floats through the town along with a varied selection of sporting and musical events to get the community involved in.

Possibly the most bizarre tradition that takes place each year in Ciutadella is the annual "Matances de Bujots", or "Death of the Bujot". The event always begins at noon following the Easter Sunday Mass, where a number of straw figures (the bujots) representing both politicians and other contemporary figures of ridicule, are shot with hunting rifles until the effigy falls to the ground in flames, to the obvious delight of the crowds.

For safety reason, the cartridges fired are specially manufactured for the event, and are blanks which have a small amount of gunpowder and a plug. The whole event usually lasts for no more than 10 minutes or so, during which around 300 shots are fired at each bujot.

If ever proof was needed that the Menorcan people can celebrate even the most tragic part of their history, then look no further than the annual Fiesta commemorating Any de sa Desgracia, which translates into English as either "Our Year of Misfortune" or "Our Year of Disgrace".

The fiesta is commemorated on July 9, when in 1558 Ciutadella underwent brutal destruction which was led by Turkish troops backed by France and the Vatican.

On the main road running west from Ciudadela through Cala'n Forcat and Los Delfines, you'll find the Aqua Center waterpark. But don't expect to find anything that compares to either the Octopus Park in Tenerife or either of the Aqualand's in Mallorca, it's not that big and really wouldn't be of much interest to older children.

However, the park is extremely clean, and the restaurant is good value. Admission is 10€ for children and 20€ for adults and children over 11. It opens at 10:30am each day and closes at around 6pm. For more information their contact details are:
Aqua Center Water Park
Urb. Los Delfines
Ciutadella de Menorca
Telephone: +34 971 388 705
Fax: +34 971 388 807
Web Site: www.aquacenter-menorca.com

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This website was launched on 1 May 2002

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