Like Maó, CIUTADELLA sits high above its harbour, though navigation is difficult here, up a narrow channel too slender for anything but the smallest of cargo ships. Despite this inconvenience, Ciutadella has been the island's capital for most of its history, the narrow, cobbled streets of its compact, fortified centre brimming with fine old palaces, hidden away behind high walls, and a set of Baroque and Gothic churches.
It's the whole architectural ensemble that gives Ciutadella its appeal, which, together with some excellent restaurants and an adequate supply of hostales and hotels, makes this a lovely place to stay. Allow at least a couple of days, more if you seek out one of the charming cove beaches within easy striking distance: Cala Turqueta is the pick of the bunch.
Ciutadella's compact centre crowds around the fortified cliff face shadowing the south side of the harbour. The main plazas and points of interest are within a few strides of each other, on and around the main square, The Catedral (daily 9am–1pm & 6–9pm; free) was built by Alfonso III at the end of the thirteenth century on the site of the town's chief mosque. Built soon after the Reconquest, its construction is fortress-like, with windows set high above the ground.
On Plaça Llibertat, the mercat (market) is a delightful corner of the old town, where fresh fruit, vegetable and fish stalls mingle with lively and inexpensive cafés selling the freshest of ensaimadas.