The remains of one of the most important fortifications of its time in the Mediterranean
The Saint Philip’s castle
Saint Philip’s castle stands on the southern side of the entrance to Maó harbour and was built in the mid-16th century designed by Italian engineer Giovanni Battista Calvi. Over the course of successive British occupations the castle was extended until the Spanish siege in 1782 forced the British to surrender and Spain recovered sovereignty over the island under the Treaty of Amiens. The castle was then demolished on the orders of King Carlos III. Remains of the castle still survive on the surface, but the most impressive sights are to be found underneath the site, where several levels of underground passageways were dug by the Spanish and British over the course of various occupations.
For Menorca, the castle is more than an old fortress, as it bears witness to nearly two and a half centuries of turbulent history. Visitors can gain great insight into the scale of human endeavour undertaken in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries to produce this extensive labyrinth of underground galleries, where three thousand English soldiers and civilians took refuge for six months during the Spanish conquest of 1782. Its location on the south shorei of the entrance to Maó harbour gives Sant Felip Castle a commanding position over this wide bay, which was a strategic link in Spanish communications with Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries, and later a British naval stronghold supporting Gibraltar.
How to get there
Sant Felip castle is 4 km from Maó and 1 km from Es Castell.
There is no public transport to Sant Felip castle. Nevertheless, you can get there by walking the 2 km from Castell after taking one of the regular buses that run from Maó. Check out bus times and frequencies (that vary according to the season).
Prices and opening times
You can consult all the information about the visit to the Sant Felip castle (calendar, schedules, prices, night visits, etc.) in the following link: www.museomilitarmenorca.com/en/the-castle-of-san-felipe-st-philips-castle/
Nearby sites of interest
• Fort Marlborough: Fortress carved out of the bare rock by the English between 1710 and 1726 to defend the castle of Sant Felip. Open to the public. More information about Fort Marlborough.
• Illa del Rei: Little island in the centre of the Maó harbour, between Maó and Es Castell. The island has two very interesting architectural sites: the remains of the Early Christian era basilica and the old military hospital, built by the British, was based here from the 18th century up until the 1960s. Open to visits. More informatio about Illa del Rei old military hospital.
• Calesfonts: Old fishing village belonging to Es Castell, where the old warehouses have been turned into bars and restaurants.
See the map British Menorca in Google Maps
See all monuments of British Menorca
The best British Menorca monuments
The British presence in Menorca lasted for almost all of the eighteenth century in three consecutive periods lasting from 1708 to 1802, the year in which the island was returned to the Spanish crown. The British legacy remains in the Anglicisms found in the local language, the characteristic bow windows seen on many Menorcan houses, the typical British-style furniture, the taste for gin and, above all, the wonderful architectural legacy in the shape of defensive military structures that dot the whole of the island’s coastline.
The island, also known as The Bloody Island, is in the middle of the Maó harbour, between Maó and Es Castell villages, where we find the old military hospital built by the British during their domination.
Fortress carved out of the bare rock by the English between 1710 and 1726 to defend the castle of Sant Felip, stands on the southern side of the entrance to Maó harbour, in the cove Cala de Sant Esteve.
A coastal defence tower built by the British in the early 19th century to guard the entrance to Fornells harbour and protect the nearby Sant Antoni Castle