Across the Water to Menorca, Part 2: Pedreres de s’Hostal
There is something about the largely uninhabited central landscape of Menorca that gives it a mystical enigmatic quality like a magical bucolic setting for Tolkien’s hobbits or something out of Wonderland. But this sensation was deeply magnified at Pedreres de s’Hostal just outside the small city of Ciutadella. Formed out of a vast landscape of old and not-so-old sandstone quarries, the organisation Lithica has done the impossible, transforming what could have been an industrial waste land into the most stunningly unique gardens you are likely to see.
What makes the gardens so unique is the landscape. The shapes left my stone cutters long ago are surreal to say the least. In sharp angular spaces of yellow rock, plants and flowers of every Mediterranean variety appear to have reclaimed the land from the hand of man as they twist and turn across the rock’s surface. Amongst unique anthropomorphic shapes, trees scatter light and herbs their heady aroma. My favourite two gardens were a pristine medieval courtyard garden set within one of the deepest mines like the cloister of a monastery, and a medicinal herb garden planted amongst a twisting path of stone.
At the centre of it all are two vast mines more recently quarried, in the largest of which a labyrinth has been crafted from stone. Led into the maze by the challenge of finding the centre, we felt almost mythical in amongst a near Minoan landscape of ochre, half expecting the Minotaur to rear up before us at any turn. With the walls soaring up around us at the most peculiar angles, it was truly like being in a fantasy world.
Sadly the weather that graced our visit was for the most part vexingly cloudy. Nevertheless the photos I took are full of the magical spirit of this place, and when, at the end, the sun finally shone, it was like the golden reward bestowed upon us as the centre of the labyrinth was reached.
More information on the gardens can be found at www.lithica.es
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