Coordinates: 39°53′15″N 4°15′40″E / 39.88750°N 4.26111°E / 39.88750; 4.26111
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Mahón (Spanish)
Maó (Catalan)
Mahón Harbour
Mahón Harbour
Flag of Mahón
Coat of arms of Mahón
Location of Mahón
Mahón is located in Minorca
Location in Menorca
Mahón is located in Balearic Islands
Mahón (Balearic Islands)
Mahón is located in Spain
Mahón (Spain)
Coordinates: 39°53′15″N 4°15′40″E / 39.88750°N 4.26111°E / 39.88750; 4.26111
Country Spain
Autonomous community Balearic Islands
ProvinceBalearic Islands
Judicial districtMaó
 • MayorVicenç Tur i Martí (PSOE)
 • Total117.20 km2 (45.25 sq mi)
72 m (236 ft)
 • Total28,592
 • Density240/km2 (630/sq mi)
Demonymsmaonèsmaonesa (ca)
mahonésmahonesa (es)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
WebsiteOfficial website

Mahón (Spanish: [maˈon]), officially Maó (Catalan: [məˈo], locally [ˈmo]),[2] and also written as Mahon or Port Mahon in English, is the capital and second largest city of Menorca. The city is located on the eastern coast of the island, which is part of the archipelago and autonomous community of the Balearic Islands.

Mahón has one of the longest natural harbours in the world: 5 kilometres (3 miles) long and up to 900 metres (3,000 feet) wide. The water is deep but remains mostly clear due to the port's enclosed nature. Mayonnaise is considered to have originated in Mahón.[3]

Its population in 2021 was estimated to be 29,125.[4]


The name's origin is attributed to the Carthaginian general Mago Barca, brother to Hannibal, who is thought to have taken refuge there in 205 BC.[5][6] After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it became part of the Eastern Roman Empire; it suffered raids from Vikings and Arabs until the Islamic Caliphate of Córdoba conquered it in 903.

Mahón was captured in 1287 from the Moors by Alfonso III of Aragon and incorporated into the Kingdom of Majorca, a vassal kingdom of the Crown of Aragon. Its harbour, one of the most strategically important in the western Mediterranean, was refortified.

In 1535, the Ottomans, under Hayreddin Barbarossa, attacked Mahón and took 600 captives as slaves back to Algiers, in the Sack of Mahon. [7]

1890 map of Mahón and surrounding region

British rule[edit]

Menorca was captured in 1708 by a joint British–Dutch force on behalf of Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, during the War of the Spanish Succession. The British saw the island's potential as a naval base and sought to take full control. Its status as a British possession was confirmed by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During the island's years as a British dependency, the capital was moved from Ciutadella de Menorca to Mahon, which then served as residence for the governor, the most famous being General Richard Kane. During this period the natural harbour leading to the town and surrounding settlements were sometimes collectively known as "Port Mahon" (see adjacent map).[8]

The island was lost to the French in 1756 following the naval Battle of Menorca and the final Siege of Fort St Philip, which took place several miles from the town. After their defeat in the Seven Years' War, France returned the island to the British in 1763. In a joint Franco-Spanish effort and following a long five month invasion, the British surrendered the island again in 1782; It was transferred to Spain in 1783 as part of the Peace of Paris. The British recaptured the island in 1798, during the French Revolutionary Wars. The British and the French tried (and failed) to end hostilities between themselves with the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. Both nations agreed to cede or withdraw from certain territories, with the island of Menorca passing to the Spanish, with whom it has remained since.

The Royal Navy[edit]

A small but important Royal Navy Dockyard was established by the British on the north side of the harbour, opposite the town, in 1715.[9] It served as the Royal Navy's principal Mediterranean base for much of the 18th century, and remains in use today as a Spanish Naval station. Several Dockyard buildings, dating from the 1760s, can still be seen on Illa Pinto (formerly known as Saffron Island) including a Naval Storehouse with clock tower. There recently have been moves to establish a maritime museum here.[10] The island has a distinctive octagonal shape, formed when wharves were constructed around it in the 1760s to enable several warships to be careened there all at once.

The ruins of a former Royal Naval Hospital, founded in 1711, stand on another nearby island (Illa del Rei). They recently have been restored.[9] Hauser & Wirth has established a gallery on the island. [11]

20th century[edit]

During the Spanish Civil War, the island remained loyal to the Republic, but was captured by the Nationalists in 1939. During the battle to capture the islands from the republicans, Mahón was bombed by Francisco Franco's Nationalist bomber planes, with support from Benito Mussolini's Italian Fascist government.[12]

General Franco visited the city on 11 May 1960 to open a new thermal power station. The event was used by the authorities to further promote Francoist Spain.[citation needed]

Modern era[edit]

Historic centre of Mahón

Today it serves as the seat of the Island Council of Menorca (Consell Insular de Menorca).

Towards the end of the 20th century, the renovation of its historic centre was made possible by income from tourism.[citation needed]

A traditional cheese made on the island (Mahón cheese) is named after the city. In Spanish mahón is also the name of nankeen, especially the blue cloth.[13]


In terms of sport, Mahón has an athletics track in the Carrer de Vasallo, as well as several other sport facilities. The city also has a sports centre with a municipal pool, 2 tennis clubs.


In football we have the teams UD Mahón, CD Menorca and CF Sporting de Mahón. There also was the most notorious club & most successful in Menorcan history, Sporting Mahonés CF. Known for being the only football club in Menorca to reach Segunda División B, the team disbanded in 2013 and Sporting de Mahón took its place. As of 2024, no team in Mahón is at Tercera Federación.


In basketball, Mahón has the Pavelló Menorca, with capacity of 5000 spectator. The venue is most known for albergating one of the few teams in the Balearic Islands to be at the Spanish first division of basketball, Liga ACB, that team was Menorca Bàsquet. After staying 5 seasons in their history at Liga ACB, the directors closed the club due to debts.

Mahón had to wait 5 years to get another basketball club, and that club is CB Menorca, considered by many to be Menorca Bàsquet's phoenix club. After 5 seasons in LEB Plata, on the 2022-23 LEB Plata season CB Menorca gained promotion to LEB Oro, making Menorca host basketball second division matches after a decade, and in their first LEB Oro season, the team finished 12th.

Notable residents[edit]

Traditional coat of arms of Mahón


Mahón/Menorca has a Hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa) with mild, somewhat humid winters and dry, hot summers. Autumn is the wettest season and heavy rain is not rare during October and November.[14]

Climate data for Menorca Airport 91m (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 14.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 7.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 52
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 7 7 6 6 4 2 1 2 5 7 8 9 64
Mean monthly sunshine hours 144 146 202 222 270 311 347 312 225 183 142 130 2,632
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología[15]


Municipality of Mahon in Menorca

At 39°51′23″N 4°17′29″E / 39.8565°N 4.2915°E / 39.8565; 4.2915, there is a large military Wullenweber antenna for radio direction finding.

Twin towns[edit]


  1. ^ Municipal Register of Spain 2018. National Statistics Institute.
  2. ^ "L'Ajuntament de Maó restitueix el topònim en català com a única forma oficial vuit anys després" [Maó City Council restores the Catalan place name as the only official form eight years later]. VilaWeb (in Catalan). 25 February 2021. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  3. ^ Mitford, Nancy; Foreman, Amanda (2001). Madame de Pompadour. NYRB Classics. p. 214. ISBN 094032265X.
  4. ^ "Population of Cities in Spain (2021)". Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  5. ^ "Magon Barca". tropasdemagon. Archived from the original on 5 August 2019. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  6. ^ Estallo, Ignasi Garces (July 1999). Historia antigua de Hispania. ISBN 9788483381076.
  7. ^ Los saqueos turcos de Menorca (In Spanish)
  8. ^ "Minorca". Encyclopædia Britannica Volume 15. 8th edition. Edinburgh, Adam and Charles Black, 1858. p. 251.
  9. ^ a b Coad, Jonathan (2013). Support for the Fleet: Architecture and Engineering of the Royal Navy's Bases, 1700–1914. Swindon: English Heritage.
  10. ^ "Information booklet (bilingual Spanish/English)" (PDF).
  11. ^ ��Minder, Raphael; Reyburn, Scott (26 July 2021). "Art Meets Luxury Lifestyle at a Gallery's Sunny New Location". New York Times. Vol. 170, no. 59131. p. C6. ISSN 0362-4331
  12. ^ "Historia". Excursiones Menorca.
  13. ^ "Nanquín". Enciclonet 3.0. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  14. ^ "Valores Climatológicos Normales. Menorca / Aeropuerto". December 2021.
  15. ^ "Valores Climatológicos Normales. Menorca / Aeropuerto". December 2021.

External links[edit]