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Report - The Fortress of Isabel II, Menorca

mookster

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#1
First a bit of history:

The Spanish began work on fortifying La Mola in 1847. Rivalry between the British and French, during the 19th century was evident in Menorca, which was a shipping route used by both the British and the French, between Toulon and Algeria, and Gibraltar and Malta. The temporary buildings of the new fortress on La Mola, were completed in 1848, a year after they began, but were considered unsuitable and a much more ambitious project was designed, closing off the peninsular from the north coast of La Mola, to the bay of Clot, on the south side, and finally opened in 1852. This was also considered unsuitable and a further project was designed. A more ambitious fort was built, which was to be the final building, and is the fortress of today. The bastion system had become obsolete and was abolished, and a polygonal front was designed with two distinct sections, the terrestrial front and the maritime front. The former defended the access to the fort by means of a beach, and the latter using cannons to defend the entrance of port Mahón. The fortification system was based on the teachings of the French Engineer Montalambert who incorporated casements - spaces covered with brick vaults under a terreplein and parapet, providing secure enclosures for the men, on the interior of a wide dry moat, with levels of angled gunfire from the casements. Another important construction was the hornworks, situated approximately in the centre of the polygonal line, and defended the terrestrial front on right and in front, and the maritime front on the left wing.

Once the fortress was completed, it was armed. This coincided with technological advances in experimental gun design, producing uncertainty within the military industry. The first cannons were the Krupp, 30.5 cm and 26 cm, then the Ordonez 24 cm, and finally the Munaiz 15 cm. Signs of the constant change of material can still be seen in the fortress in the different types of gun emplacements. Later on, during the Second Republic, the latest Vickers guns were installed, two of which are still on La Mola, and one can be seen by visitors during the guided tour as can the underground magazines and loading chambers, from where the projection charges and shells were raised to the firing cannons.
The Fortress of Isabel II is situated on La Mola peninsula on the island of Menorca, just outside Mahon harbour and dominates the view from the area of Es Castell where I was staying. I'd visited once before in 2007 and this time the urbex instincts took over.

It wasn't as straightforward as may seem though, for a few reasons. This is predominantly a live tourist attraction, the majority of the fortress has been made suitable for tourists but the bits most interesting to me were off limits to the tour, standing derelict above the actual fortress and although you can get close to them on the actual tour you aren't allowed in them. It was also getting very near the closing time. Although that did work in my favour as nobody else was around, except the family of mine which thwarted my attempts to get into the prison part, which unfortunately looked the most interesting from what we could see through the barred windows.

This is the full set of derelict buildings on the site. To the left is the prison, the buildings second from left and on the far right are barracks we assume were used to house the people who built the fortress. The peculiar building in the middle I have no idea what it was used for

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Unfortunately this barracks was inaccessible, all ground floor access had been bricked up

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The few shots of the prison, I reckon if I had had a bit more time there I would have found a way in, but it's hard to sneak around as you are very exposed on top of a hill

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the one shot of the interior of the prison, taken through the small hole in the door

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The barracks that are accessible, opposite the prison

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Has been used to store big guns. The upstairs part is bare

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Stone kennel with water bowl!

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adjacent to the barracks was a peculiar and very wrecked outbuilding with the rusting hulk of some unidentified radar truck next to it

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the rest of the pics, including a selection of my favourites from the live parts - it's a haven for tunnel lovers, with an almost 500 metre long tunnel and various other smaller ones

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mookie427/sets/72157621670246937/
 

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