History and Legend
The mountain’s peak has long been a place of pilgrimage, beginning as early as the 13th century. Its status as a holy place derives from the legend of the Verge del Toro, in which a bull appears to a group of monks and leads them to an image of the Virgin Mary in a cave near the mountain’s summit. Since the inception of this legend, Monte Toro has hosted a number of religious orders, from the Augustinian monks who built the sanctuary in 1670 to the Franciscan sisters who still occupy the mountaintop convent today.
At the Summit
When you reach Menorca’s highest point, there’s a lot to take in. First, and most obviously, there’s the view. On a clear day you can see a sweeping panorama of the entire island, and even the mountains of neighbouring Mallorca.
You can also see quite a bit on the mountaintop itself. At the Sanctuary of the Virgin of El Toro you can see the Baroque altar with its carved wooden statue of the Virgin, as well as the small vaulted chamber that contains the entrance to the legendary cave.
What’s more, you can’t miss the huge statue of Jesus of the Sacred Heart, mounted on a pedestal in front of the sanctuary. Arms outstretched, this Christ figure blesses the Menorcans who died in the Spanish Moroccan wars of the early 1900s.
Of course, modernity has made its mark upon the peak of Monte Toro. As the island’s highest point, the mountain also has its fair share of communication masts, transmitters, and satellites – however, they shouldn’t detract from the view.
How to Visit
The mountain top is accessible by car (or tour bus) via route Me-13. The closest town is Es Mercadal just ten minutes’ drive to the west. If you’re up for a hike, you can take on the mountain on foot. The walk is about 2.5 miles and mainly follows the road. At the top, reward yourself with a cold drink and a snack at the café or a souvenir from the gift shop.