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  18 Dossier Un patrimonio apenas conocido La Base o Estación Naval de Port-Maó, en la isla de Menorca, preserva un patri- monio arquitectónico muy interesante, vinculado a la historia marítima: parte de un arsenal británic
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  Dossier18 Un patrimonio apenas conocido La Base o Estación Naval de Port-Maó, en la isla de Menorca, preserva un patri-monio arquitectónico muy interesante, vinculado a la historia marítima: parte de un arsenal británico del s. XVIII. Como es sabido, los británicos llegan a la isla en septiembre de 1708 y a partir de esa fecha el puerto de Maó se convirtió en refugio, fondeadero, arsenal y astillero de la Royal Navy en el Mediterráneo. Se trata del primer periodo de soberanía británica sobre la isla, la denominada Primera Dominación, que perdurará hasta 1756. La utilización de las instalacio-nes preexistente en Maó no era una buena solución a medio y largo plazo, de forma que en 1724 se inició la construcción en la riba norte del puerto, de lo que será el Arsenal de Maó. La profundidad era más que suficiente y la playa permitía las operaciones de carenado; además la zona quedaba protegida por una pequeña isla o islote casi pegado a la costa y que ha recibido a lo largo de su historia diversos nombres antes del actual de Pinto: isla de Mahón, “S’Illa des Gegants”, de Pintot, Peinte, Isle du Carenage, y en época británica Saffron Island o Isla del Azafrán. En 1756 los franceses desembarcaron en la isla y acabaron por rendirla, dando paso a un corto de dominación gala. Por el Tratado de Paris en 1763, Menorca volvió a manos británicas para comenzar la Segunda Dominación. Es en este momento es cuando se hace la gran transformación del arsenal con la habili-tación de la isla Pinto como centro de operaciones del astillero. Su perímetro La Estación Naval de Port – Maó. Un patrimonio arquitectónico a conservar The Port – Maó Naval Station. Architectural heritage to be preserved Enric Garcia Domingo A largely unknown heritage The architectural heritage of the Port-Maó Naval Station or Base, on the island of Minorca, is ex- tremely interesting and associated with maritime history, being part of a British arsenal dating back  to the 18  th  Century. It is a well known fact that the British arrived on the island in September 1708, and as from that date the Port of Maó became a haven, anchoring ground, arsenal and shipyard for the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean. It was the first period of British sovereignty over the island, the so-called First Occupation, which lasted until 1756. In  the medium- and long-term, using the pre-existing facilities at Maó was not an acceptable solution, so in 1724 construction work began on the port’s northern shore, on what was to become the Maó  Arsenal. The depth at this point was more than suf-ficient and careening operations were possible on  the beach. Furthermore, the zone was protected by a small island or islet lying very close to the coast,  which has been known by a variety of different names in the past before being called Pinto, namely Isla de Mahón, “S’Illa des Gegants”, de Pintot, Peinte, Isle du Carenage, and, in the British era, Saffron Island or Isla del Azafrán. In 1756, the French disembarked on the island, and the British ended up by surrendering it, paving the way for a short period under French rule. Minorca was returned to the British, which heralded the beginning of the Second Occupa- tion. That was when the major transformation of the arsenal got under way, the islet of Pinto being prepared as the centre of shipbuilding operations. Its perimeter is surrounded by eight  wharves, giving it its octagonal shape that is still visible today. The backbone was (and still is) a series of buildings with a clock-tower that, as a whole, are an example of exquisite good  taste that almost makes one forget its military srcins. A small bridge now linked the islet to  the mainland and certain enlargements were    F   i  g .   1    F   i  g .   2 Fig. 1. Hospital Naval construido en el s. XVIII en la isla del ReyNaval Hospital constructed in the 18 th  Cen-tury on the Isla del ReyFig. 2. Cementerio de los Ingleses, donde es-tán enterrados marineros de diferentes paí-ses que utilizaron la Base Naval en el s. XIXThe English Cemetery, where seamen are buried from dierent countries that used the Naval Base in the 19 th  Century  Dossier19 fue rodeado con ocho muelles que le dieron la forma octogonal visible hoy. La columna vertebral eran (y son) unos edificios rematados por una torre con un reloj y que representar un conjunto de exquisito gusto que casi hace olvidar su srcen militar. La isla quedaba unida a tierra firme mediante un pequeño puen-te, y en la ribera se hicieron también algunas ampliaciones, que incluían por fin una pequeña rampa o varadero. Más tarde el perímetro del arsenal quedó deli-mitado por una estructura defensiva no muy sólida que era más un cerramiento que no una muralla y que fue inaugurada en 1778. Hacia 1774 las obras habían acabado, y el arsenal de Maó se había convertido en la mejor base británica en ultramar. Sin embargo este momento de grandeza no tendría continuidad, ya que al pasar la isla a dominio español a principios del s. XIX el complejo naval perdió la oportunidad de entrar en la era industrial como sí sucedió con Gibral-tar o Malta. El Segundo Dominio británico acabó en 1782, cuando el Tratado de Versalles reconoció la soberanía española sobre la isla, pero en el marco de la guerra contra la Francia revolucionaria un cuerpo expedicionario inglés desem-barcó en la isla en 1798 y produjo una nueva ocupación británica, la llamada Tercera Dominación. Pero desde la ocupación de Malta en 1800, Mahón había perdido ya para los in-gleses gran parte de su atractivo como puerto estratégico y en 1802 la isla y con ella el arsenal volvió definitivamente a manos españolas. En manos españolas, la historia del arsenal pasó por diversas vicisitudes, incluyendo el uso construc-tores particulares o por el Mediterranean Squadron de la US Navy y la escuadra holandesa. La Armada española no mostró apenas interés por el arsenal hasta que en 1915 se impulsó un proyecto para establecer en Maó una base de sumer-gibles, a la que se unió más tarde un destacamento de la Aeronáutica Naval. En la segunda mitad del siglo XX la base sufrió sus últimas transformaciones importantes hasta su virtual abandono en los últimos años del siglo. 1 2001 1700 1785 1900     F   i  g .   3 Fig. 3. Evolución de la Estación Naval desde 1700 a 2011Evolution of the Naval Station from 1700 to 2011  Dossier20 La situación, hoy Pese a su aparente inactividad, el Ministerio de Defensa español no ha aban-donado esta instalación naval y ha manifestado en diversas ocasiones que la Base Naval sigue siendo una instalación de interés para la defensa nacional. 2 Sin embargo, el Ministerio firmó en 2005 un acuerdo con la Autoridad Portuaria de Maó para permitir el uso de algunas áreas para el servicio de buques mer-cantes, especialmente cruceros, y para una reorganización del área en diversos sentidos. 3  También se llegó a un acuerdo, ese mismo año, con la asociación cul-tural Amics de la Mar-Port de Maó, para permitir el uso lúdico-cultural de una parte del antiguo arsenal británico. 4  Del conjunto de la Base, con sus diferentes muelles, depósitos, talleres, etc., la zona de la Isla de Pinto es la más claramen-te definida y susceptible de se r vinculada a usos culturales, mientras que otras áreas se vinculan directamente al tráfico portuario o son objeto de atención de otros intereses. Así, la isla de Pinto y zonas adyacentes se hallan actualmente, en cierto sentido, bajo la tutela de dicha asociación, que no sólo se ocupa del mantenimiento de los edificios, sino que llevan a cabo una encomiable labor de recuperación de patrimonio flotante y, de forma destacada, una interesante labor de divulgación de lo que es el patrimonio marítimo. En aquel espacio se han restaurado diferentes embarcaciones, desde llaguts  de pesca a botes tráfico portuario, pasando por todo tipo de embarcaciones de recreo. made to the shoreline, which was provided with a small careening slipway or ramp. Later on, a not-very-sound defensive structure was erected around the perimeter of the arsenal; it was more of an enclosure than a wall. It came into use in 1778. The works were completed in about 1774 and the Maó Arsenal had become the best British overseas base. However, this moment of gran-deur was not to last, because the island came under Spanish control at the beginning of the 19  th  Century. Thus, unlike what happened with Gibraltar or Malta, the naval complex lost the opportunity of forming part of the industrial era. The Second British Occupation came to an end in 1782, when the Treaty of Versailles recognised Spanish sovereignty over the island, but in the context of the war against Revolutionary France, English expeditionary forces disembarked on  the island in 1798 and a new British occupation began, known as the Third Occupation. However, since the occupation of Malta in 1800, Mahón, as a strategic port, was no longer such an attractive proposition for the English, and in 1802,  the island together with the arsenal finally came back under Spanish control. Under Spanish rule,  the history of the arsenal had many vicissitudes,  which included being used by private constructors or by the US Navy’s Mediterranean Squadron and  the Dutch Squadron. The Spanish Navy showed  very little interest in the arsenal until 1915, when a project was launched to establish a base for submersibles at Maó, and it later became Naval  Aeronautics outpost. The base underwent its last major transformations in the latter half of the 20  th  Century, but was virtually abandoned by the 1990s. 1 The Current Situation In spite of the Spanish Ministry of Defence’s apparent inactivity, it has not abandoned these naval facilities and on several occasions has ex-pressed its wish for the Naval Base to continue to serve as installations of interest to the country’s defence. 2  However, in 2005 the Ministry signed an agreement with Maó Port Authorities to allow certain zones to be used for servicing merchant  vessels, especially cruise ships, and for a restruc- turing of the area in different ways. 3  Another agreement was reached in the same year with  the cultural association Amics de la Mar-Port de Maó, to enable part of the former British Arsenal  to be used for cultural and leisure purposes. 4  The islet of Pinto, with its various wharves, depots,  workshops, etc., is clearly the most suitable zone  to be adapted for cultural activities, whereas other areas are more directly linked to har-bour traffic or are attracting attention for other reasons. In view of the above, the islet of Pinto and adjacent zones are now under the supervi-sion of that association, which not only carries out maintenance work on the buildings, but also performs the commendable task of recover-ing the floating heritage and, most notably, the interesting task of giving publicity to maritime heritage and explaining exactly what this means. Several vessels have been restored in that zone, ranging from fishing smacks to port traffic boats, not to mention all kinds of pleasure boats.  Dossier21 However, this is only a temporary situation, and although it has made it possible to secure what remains of the arsenal, it does not constitute a clear and definitive response to the problem of preserving and conserving them. Faced with this situation, the short- and medium-term challenges must be to declare the entire complex to be of cultural interest and a consortium must be set up  to manage the “territory” of the former base. 5  The main authorities must form part of this consor- tium (Local Council, Regional Government of the Balearic Isles, Island Council, Ministry of Defence and Port Authority) as well as other bodies composed of citizens, such as the aforementioned  Associació d’Amics de la Mar Port-Maó. A Warning Note: the Cases of La Carraca, Ferrol and Cartagena The base of Maó is finding itself, albeit to a lesser extent, undergoing a process similar to that of other Spanish naval installations and facilities that have partially or completely lost their srcinal role and have been subjected to restructuring pro-cesses. Such processes can jeopardise the historic heritage associated with the historic arsenals, as can be demonstrated by three examples that can and must be taken into account when it comes to reflecting upon the future of Port-Maó. There are three naval outfitters undergoing a process of change that are experiencing different situations 6  although the starting points were the same. The clearest and most optimistic case is that of the Ferrol arsenal, listed as an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1994 and proposed as World Heritage. 7  Juan Antonio Rodríguez-Villasante, member of  the Council of ICOMOS, has published several  works on this question and has “stood up to be counted” as one of its main defenders. Therefore, at the present time we can be optimistic about it being preserved intact. However, there is one cause for concern, albeit one that has not yet reached dramatic proportions, and that is La Carraca, in Cadiz, where the main problem lies in its relative abandon. In spite of this, there is room for hope, in view of the fact that the new General Urban Restructuring Plan recommends that the La Carraca Arsenal be listed in the Andalusia General Historical Heritage Catalogue, in both the historical monuments category and in the places of industrial interest category. 8 However, the most flagrant case is that of Cartagena, where the heritage has already been subjected to irreversible damage. Towards the end of 2000, some works were carried out inside the  Arsenal on the quays for the Cartagena submarine base, which destroyed the last vestiges of what  were known as the Sebastián Feringán Docks, the most important 18  th  Century military engineering  works along the Spanish Mediterranean Coast. Furthermore, the Feringán Docks were where the first steam locomotives ran in Spain. Not only was  the heritage destroyed, but insult was added to injury when the remains of the construction were found at an antique dealer’s and in different rub-ble tips in Cartagena. In November 2004, charges  were pressed against 5 former high-ranking Fig. 4. Barcos atracados en los muelles comercia-les. Al fondo la Base Naval (primera mitad s. XX)Vessels moored at the wharves. The Naval Base is in the background (rst half of the 20 th  Century)     F   i  g .   4
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