Mallorca, Menorca or Majorca?
For once and for all, we’re putting an end to the confusion surrounding these three similar names. In this blog, you can learn all about the history and culture which sets these popular tourist destinations apart from one another, allowing you to sound like a pro when you’re next discussing your Balearic adventures.
The Pronunciation of Mallorca and Majorca
Mallorca, Menorca or Majorca; quite a mouthful to use them all in the same sentence, but two of these names are in fact referring to the same place. The island of Mallorca is sometimes written as Majorca, and the two are pronounced differently by unsuspecting tourists.
This confusion came to be when some well-meaning Brits took stock of the difficulty that other Brits were having in trying to correctly pronounce the double l in the correct name for the island which is Mallorca. In order to combat this problem, they changed the name to ‘Majorca’, which stems from the Latinate word ‘major’ meaning large. The nickname of Majorca is apt since it is the largest of the Balearic Islands, but it has become so prolific in the UK that many Britons are left feeling a bit confused as to which name came first, and which is the correct term.
To make things more confusing, the Spanish themselves liked the nickname of Majorca but would pronounce the ‘j’ as ‘CH’ sound. We’re quite lucky that no-one has yet tried to introduce a fun new third spelling for this lovely island; perhaps something like Machorka.
The correct name that the locals prefer, and that the modern holiday planning giants will use, is Mallorca, pronounced correctly by the locals as ‘ma-yor-ka’. If you want to prove that you’re a tourist who respects the local culture, this is the name that you will want to be using:
The Pronunciation of Menorca
Menorca, thankfully, is much simpler, but you can listen to the video about how to pronounce it below if you’re not confident:
Where Are the Balearic Islands?
The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain, consisting of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza, as well as a few lesser known, smaller islands. They lie to the east of Spain, east of Valencia but south of Barcelona. Mallorca is the largest of the islands, with Menorca being the smallest of the big three.
The eco-systems vary a little between the Balearic islands, and for some, it is very hard to get access. The Illa de l’Aire, for example, is an islet on the coast of Menorca which is home to a protected subspecies of lizard that could be endangered by humans bringing foreign bacteria. Because of the restricted access, the island is sometimes referred to as ‘Lizard Island’.
History of Mallorca
Mallorca has a rich history which makes it a popular destination for tourists looking to find an intellectual escape with over 13 million visiting every year. The official language in Mallorca is Catalan with some local dialect changes, which differs somewhat from Spanish, although Spanish, English and German are also widely spoken by residents, partially owing to its popularity as a centre for tourists since the 1950s.
History of Menorca
Menorca was once part of the Kingdom of Mallorca before it was absorbed into the Spanish crown. In the 16th century, Menorca came under fierce attack from the Turkish navy, swiftly followed by a sweep of Barbary pirates who saw an opportunity in the recently injured island. As a result, the pirates captured around six thousand slaves.
Following this period, Menorca was subjected to further uncertainty as Britain and France warred over its ownership from 1708 to 1802, which is when Spain intervened and repossessed the island. You can catch a glimpse of this tumultuous period of Menorcan history through some of the island’s architecture if you look around. The Fort of La Mola is one such building which was originally designed by the British but was eventually taken over by the Spanish who ended up with the majority of the construction and planning work.
Now that you know the differences between the two, your next step might be to look out for holiday villas in Mallorca or holiday villas in Menorca. Our villas are perfectly situated for you to learn more about the Balearic first hand, from the fantastic local cuisine to their impressive museums and architecture.