22nd November 2023
Menorca, the serene Balearic Island, is renowned for its pristine beaches, charming villages and rich historical tapestry. Among its many treasures, El Toro, or Monte Toro, stands tall as the highest peak on this enchanting island, offering panoramic views and a glimpse into Menorca's spiritual and historical heritage.
A suggested translation of the name Monte del Toro is 'Mountain of the Bull', and one legend goes that a group of 13th century monks, seeing a mysterious light on the hilltop began to ascend its slopes only to be confronted by an angry bull. The bull, cowered by the sight of the monks raising their crucifixes, instead led the monks to a cave where they saw an image of the Virgin Mary. A chapel was built upon the site dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the hill forever more named after the bull.
This is not the only story attributed to the hill’s name however, with others claiming the Arabic translation, tor or al-tor meaning 'height' or 'high place', or the Catalan turó meaning hill, being its origin. In Catalan though, this place is also known as El Toro, meaning 'bull'. Regardless of the origins of Monte Toro’s name, this is a spiritually important site in Menorca and remained a destination for religious pilgrimage for centuries.
"Regardless of the origins of Monte Toro’s name, this is a spiritually important site in Menorca and remained a destination for religious pilgrimage for centuries.'
As you explore the summit, you'll come across the ruins of an old monastery, providing a tangible connection to Menorca's past. These remnants offer a glimpse into the island's historical narrative, making Monte Toro not just a natural wonder but a living testament to Menorca's enduring legacy. A more recent structure, the Sanctuary of the Virgen del Toro, an old Gothic church, dates from around 1670. There is also a statue of Christ the Redeemer.
The atmosphere around the sanctuary exudes tranquillity, providing a serene space for reflection and contemplation. Whether you're religious or simply seeking a peaceful escape, the spiritual aura of Santa Maria de Monte Toro adds a unique layer to your Menorcan experience.
"These remnants offer a glimpse into the island's historical narrative, making Monte Toro not just a natural wonder but a living testament to Menorca's enduring legacy."
Today the sanctuary atop the hill, still run by a small community of nuns, can be visited by tourists. Enjoy the panoramic vistas all the way to the sea from the summit’s viewing points. Sunset is a particularly magical time to visit, as the changing colours cast a breath-taking glow over the island. There is also a souvenir shop and a restaurant with a terrace offering extraordinary views.
Monte Toro is ideal for fans of hiking and guided hiking tours up to the summit can be arranged. You can also consider renting a car to reach Monte Toro, allowing you to explore at your own pace as well as the picturesque, white-washed towns nestled at its foot, Es Mercadal and Ferreries.
If you are feeling inspired by the spiritual heart of Menorca, why not book a stay in one of our closest villas to Monte Toro, located in nearby Alaior, Cala Pregonda, Es Migjorn Gran, all about a 20 minute drive away. Some have magnificent views of this beautiful landmark. Contact our team to request a list of villas close by.
Menorca has some of the best beaches in Europe, even the world.
Menorca is only small, meaning you can easily explore the whole island during your stay.
Menorca is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and we support eco-tourism to protect its beauty.
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If we've tempted you to a visit, why not browse our incredible range of villas or Offers. From properties situated right on the coast to those nestled in Menorca's idyllic countryside, we have beautiful, hand-picked villas to suit every taste and group size. Search by island destination or desired villa type to plan your perfect Menorca holiday.