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Photographer's Note

Illa del Rei is an small island lying within the natural harbour of Mahon (or Mao), the present capital of Menorca. The harbour has long been thought of as being amongst the few very best natural harbours in the World and was highly sought after and later strongly defended by any nation who wished to achieve naval supremacy in the Mediterranean.

Illa del Rei was so called after King Alfons III (hence "Island of the King") but during British occupation of Menorca in the early 18th Century and due to the work of Admiral John Jennings, commander of the Mediterranean fleet, a much needed naval hospital was built on this island. Hence its later popular name of "Hospital Island" or "Bloody Island".

There was a short period of French domination from 1756 to 1763, then back to British rule until it was taken by the Spanish in 1782. In 1830 it became a French naval hospital but by the early 20th Century it had become almost abandoned, being used as a storge facility, and gradually fell into disrepair.

However, in recent years the island and its hospital have become a heritage site and an dedicated army of local Menorcan and other voluteers known as "Amics de l'Illa de l'Hospital" (Friends of Hospital Island) have begun very extensive restoration of the site under the direction of General Luis Alexandre. You can read some more about this interesting place (in Spanish) here where you can also see some other photographs of the place and the restoration work which is being undertaken.

Interestingly, during restoration work, evidence of Roman occupation such as mosaics have been unearthed but the main restoration work is being carried out in order to make the hospital appear as it was in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

A lot of artefacts have been added to the hospital, including this rather fine old surgical operating table. But this isn't in keeping with the age of the hospital: I reckon this is probably from mid-20th Century - I have certainly worked with tables of this sort of design in the past and very good they were too - modern tables might have electric and hydraulc mechanisms but they are no more robust, versatile or reliable than these.

Interestingly, visitors are welcome to visit this less than well-known island. You can visit on a Sunday only, I recall it costs about 10, you are taken from Mahon by inflatable boat across to the island and you are warmly welcomed by the group of voluteers and you also get a light "brunch" of Menorcan meats and cheeses with a glass of wine thrown in too. Well worth a trip and it's a real photographer's paradise.

Actually, if you click on Map:[view], you can see the island very well - then move south to Mahon itself and you can (if you zoom in) actually see the inflatable boat moored at the little jetty waiting to take people to the island.

Shot in RAW and converted and edited in PSE9.

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 393 N: 4742] (19080)
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