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Menorca’s ‘houses of the dead’ reveal these ancient secrets

From atop Menorca’s megalithic stone towers, watchers would have witnessed the tides of history roll across the island with the successive waves of the ancient Mediterranean superpowers—the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans.

But long before those heavyweights stepped ashore, the island’s humble pioneers carved out a life on the windswept, largely treeless landscape. Those towers, called talayots, were built from the raw material those first inhabitants and their descendants found in abundance—blocks of limestone. By simply making do with what they had, the Menorcans created a legacy set in stone.

To most, Spain’s Balearic Islands may be better known for the jet-set beach destinations of Ibiza and Mallorca. But tranquil Menorca, the easternmost link in the chain, combines that natural beauty with a unique treasure trove—the archipelago’s greatest repository of ancient architecture. Within these towers and other “cyclopean” structures—made from unhewn, mortarless stones—lies an island history knit together over a millennium, leaving its mark on the Menorcan landscape and identity.

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