BRIEF HISTORY OF ALAIOR
Where it all started to what you can see now
Human presence in Alaior goes back to the first inhabitants of Menorca between the years 2200 and 1000 B.C. Testament to this period are the various burial monuments, such as the Ses Roques Llises tomb or the burial navetas of Biniac-l'Argentina or Rafal Rubí. In addition, there are the large talayotic era constructions, among which the settlements of Torre d’en Galmés, Torrlaba d’en Salort and So Na Caçana all stand out.
After the Roman conquest of Menorca, the island’s economic clout shifted to the port settlements (Mago, Iamo and Sanisera). Following the Catalan-Aragonese conquest made by King Alfonso III in 1287, the population on the island was concentrated in the towns and it was then that the first areas that were to shape Menorca’s countryside were created.
It is at this initial time that the town of Alaior was created. In the Pariatge of 1301 (a document where the first economic , administrative and ecclesiastical organisation of Menorca was conducted), the parish of Santa Eulàlia was already referred to. However, it was in the year 1304 when King Jaume II of Mallorca ordered the purchase of the old Islamic farmstead of Ihalor, that the current name of the town was derived: Alaior, which gradually developed around a hill where the church of Santa Eulàlia was built during the 14th century. The so-called “University” of Alaior (the town’s old municipal government office) is documented for the first time in the year 1398.
In 1651, there was a great change made in the island’s administrative system, with the University of Ciutadella ceasing to be the central government point and the other Universities on the island becoming really independent. As a result, the University of Alaior was empowered to collect its own taxes. In 1644, during an attack by the Barbary pirates, Miquel Barçola Cardona, mayor of Alaior, died in the conflict. The standard that he wore in this battle became the town’s banner.
In the 19th century, Menorca was once again under Spanish rule. The ecclesiastical confiscations affected Alaior, with the convent of becoming state property. Over time, this building became an army barracks, and after that private dwellings. It was known as the Patio de sa Lluna and is now an important cultural landmark in the town.
In 1836 the Universities disappeared and were replaced with our current Town Halls on the island, meaning that the governmental organ officially became the Alaior Town Hall. It was in this century that industrialisation began in the town, with one of the most important being shoe manufacturing.
From the 1950’s, Alaior saw a great economic surge. The main industries were shoe manufacturing, livestock farming that included cheese-making and other milk products, metalwork and agriculture. All of this industry boosted Alaior society, with other artisan crafts emerging such as confectionery and liqueurs together with a local shopping network and a comprehensive range of hotels and agritourism hotels for visitors.
Nowadays, Alaior is the third-largest town on the island, with a population of 9.500 inhabitants who mostly depend on work in the industrial and service sectors.