At the western end of the island, the town of Ciudadela has a typically Mediterranean air about it. Lining the narrow streets of the Old City are noble mansions of the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as numerous churches. It was the capital until 1722, when the British chose Mahón instead, largely because its harbor channel is more navigable than the one at Ciudadela. Subsequently, the British built the main island road to link the two cities.
Like Mahón, Ciudadela perches high above its harbor, which is smaller than Mahón's. The seat of Minorca's bishopric, Ciudadela pontificates while Mahón administrates.
Known as Medina Minurka under the Muslims, Ciudadela retains Moorish traces despite the 1558 Turkish invasion and destruction of the city. An obelisk in memory of the city's futile defense against that invasion stands in the pigeon-filled Plaça d'es Born (Plaza del Born), the city's main square overlooking the port.