A luxury real estate agency is selling a Talayotic settlement in Menorca

An ancient Talayotic settlement in Menorca is being sold.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 05:21
4 Reads
A luxury real estate agency is selling a Talayotic settlement in Menorca

An ancient Talayotic settlement in Menorca is being sold. The agency Sotheby's, specializing in luxury investments, has put up for sale the Binissafullet settlement, located in the municipality of Sant Lluís. It is a prehistoric site spanning about 6,000 square meters, which was in use from the 10th century BC to the Roman era. Additionally, there are remains from the Islamic period, suggesting possible habitation up to the medieval period. The price? 950,000 euros.

Is it possible to sell a talayotic settlement on an island that has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site precisely because of this type of archaeological site? The answer is yes. The settlement that is up for sale is located on privately owned land that can be sold, despite being non-buildable and despite the fact that the archaeological works have the status of a Cultural Interest Property (BIC), the highest level of heritage protection on the island.

Joana Gual, a technician from the Department of Culture of the Council of Mallorca, explains that Menorca has dated and cataloged over 300 areas with talayots throughout the island, as well as a much larger number of remains of settlements that do not have these megalithic constructions of high heritage value. In the case of the one that has come up for sale, she asserts that it is not part of the final list of World Heritage Sites because there are other settlements with greater value and, furthermore, its environment and landscape have been heavily altered by human action.

Gual explains that all these remains are privately owned, and only about half of them are publicly owned. Therefore, in the case of Binissafullet, there is nothing preventing its sale. He points out that the potential buyer of the land and archaeological remains must abide by the protection regulations, but the Council will be responsible for the conservation of the heritage. The Council funds maintenance actions in similar archaeological sites, such as the one currently for sale, where interventions have been carried out previously.

The village includes one of the characteristic Minorcan taulas, which is the central element of the site, and which was raised and restored in the 90s. Joana Gual explains that, until that moment, the entire site was covered in vegetation and, during the excavations, the taula was discovered, which was in ruins. She asserts that it is a construction of some interest, but it cannot be compared to the large famous sites on the island.

In the site, there is also a hypostyle hall, a room with columns from that time, as well as dwellings or remnants of silos. The place had remnants of amphorae from the Punic period, which contained wine. The presence of fire in the taula enclosure indicates that rituals related to the fertility of animals, fields, and people were carried out, as detailed on the Menorca Talayotic website.

One of the communication managers of Sotheby's, Cristina Rodríguez Tapia, acknowledges that this is one of the most “exceptional” properties they have offered to date in their catalog. “Menorca stands out for its richness in unique and singular properties, in particular, this talayotic settlement,” she adds. On the company's website, it is noted that the release of this heritage to the market represents “an unrepeatable opportunity” for a particular collector interested in acquiring “a prehistoric architectural gem” very representative of the island of Menorca and at the same time owning “an exceptional venue for the organization of private cultural events.”

When Cristina Rodríguez Tapia is asked about the profile of the client who may be interested in spending nearly a million euros on acquiring a property with these characteristics, she expands on the idea suggested on the website. “We believe that this property represents an exceptional opportunity for true enthusiasts of art, culture, and history,” she states. She ensures that the company's clientele includes “those who appreciate Menorca and everything related to its history, art, and culture.”

It is currently unknown whether the Council of Menorca will make an offer to acquire this village, something that seems unlikely both due to the price and the specific characteristics of the place. If it ends up in the hands of a buyer, the village of Binissafullet will be added to the long list of century-old heritage properties on the island that have been transferred in recent years and have essentially ended up in the hands of foreigners, who are the ones with the resources to be able to afford these purchases.

Més per Menorca has requested the Government to acquire, using funds from the ecotax, the archaeological site since it contains one of the only seven 'taulas'. Therefore, they have asked the regional Executive to “immediately stop this operation”. They have reminded that the Historical Heritage Law grants the Government and the Island Councils the power to exercise the right of first refusal and withdrawal in the sale or auction of any Cultural Interest Property, the highest legal category of historical heritage protection. Therefore, they are urging them to exercise this power to purchase the Binisafullet archaeological site.