- Plaça de la Cartuja de Valldemossa.
- Tel: 971 61 21 06.
1 Jan, 25 Dec.
Mallorca is often likened to a continent rather than simply an island. Its varied nature never fails to astonish, whether you are looking for landscape, culture or just entertainment. No other European island has a wider range of scenery, from the fertile plains of central Mallorca to the almost alpine peaks of the Tramuntana. The island’s mild climate and lovely beaches have made it one of Spain’s foremost package tour destinations but there is a wealth of culture, too, evident in sights like Palma Cathedral. Mallorca’s appeal lies also in its charm as a living, working island: the cereal and fruit crops of the central plains, and the vineyards around Binissalem are vital to the island’s economy.
Avinguda de la Cúria 1, Tel: 971 62 80 19 .
San Pedro (29 Jun).
This small town lies amid a valley of almond groves in the shadow of Puig de Galatzó, which rises to 1,026 m (3,366 ft). With its ochre and white shuttered houses and the old watchtowers perched high on a hill above the town, Andratx is a very pretty place.
The road southwest leads down to Port d’Andratx 5 km (3 miles) away. Here, in an almost totally enclosed bay, expensive yachts are moored in rows along the harbour and luxury holiday homes pepper the surrounding hillsides. In the past, Port d’Andratx’s main role was as the fishing port and harbour for Andratx, but since the early 1960s it has gradually been transformed into an exclusive holiday resort for the rich and famous. When visiting Port d’Andratx, it is a good idea to leave all thoughts of the real Mallorca behind and simply enjoy it for what it is – a chic and affluent resort.
La Granja is a private estate, or possessió , near the little country town of Esporles. Formerly a Cistercian convent, it is now the property of the Seguí family, who have opened their largely unspoiled 18th-century house to the public as a kind of living museum. Peacocks roam the gardens, salt cod and hams hang in the kitchen, The Marriage of Figaro plays in the ballroom, and the slight air of chaos just adds to the charm of the place.
Avenida Palma 7, Tel: 971 61 21 19 .
Santa Catalina Thomás (28 Jul), San Bartolomé (24 Aug).
This pleasant mountain town is linked with the name of George Sand, the French novelist who stayed here in the winter of 1838–9 and later wrote unflatteringly of the island in Un Hiver à Majorque . Dearer to Mallorcans is the Polish composer Frédéric Chopin (1810–49), who stayed with Sand at the Real Cartuja de Jesús de Nazaret . “Chopin’s cell”, off the monastery’s main courtyard, is where a few of his works were written, and still houses the piano on which he composed.
Nearby is a 17th-century pharmacy displaying outlandish medicinal preparations such as “powdered nails of the beast”. In the cloisters is an art museum with works by Tàpies, Miró and the Mallorcan artist Juli Ramis (1909–90), and a series of Picasso illustrations, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz , inspired by the El Greco painting of the same name.
1 Jan, 25 Dec.
tour bus from Palma.
Sat pm & Sun.
Very few possessicós in Mallorca are open to the public, which makes Alfàbia worth visiting. The house and garden are an excellent example of a typical Mallorcan aristocratic estate and exude a Moorish atmosphere. Very little remains of the original 14th-century architecture, so it is well worth looking out for the Mudéjar inscription on the ceiling of the entrance hall and the Hispano-Arabic fountains and pergola. The garden is a sumptuous 19th-century creation, making imaginative use of shade and the play of water.
Plaza España, Tel: 971 63 80 08 .
Sa Fira & Es Firó (2nd week May).
Soller is a little town grown fat on the produce of its olive groves and orchards, which climb up the slopes of the Sierra Tramuntana. In the 19th century Sóller traded its oranges and wine for French goods, and the town retains a faintly Gallic, bourgeois feel.
One of Sóller’s best-known features is its delightfully old-fashioned narrow-gauge railway, complete with quaint wooden carriages. The town, whose station is in the Plaça d’Espanya, lies on a scenic route between Palma and the fishing village of Port de Sóller 5 km (3 miles) to the west.
From Sóller a road winds southwards along the spectacular west coast to Deià (Deyá). This village was once the home of Robert Graves (1895–1985), the English poet and novelist, who came to live here in 1929. His simple tombstone can be seen in the small cemetery. The Museu Arqueològic , curated by the archaeologist William Waldren, offers a glimpse into prehistoric Mallorca. Outside the village is Son Marroig , the estate of Austrian Archduke Ludwig Salvator (1847–1915), who documented the Balearics in a series of books included in a display of his possessions.
Houses and trees crowded together on the hillside of Deià
Tue, Thu, Sun.
High in the mountains of the Sierra Tramuntana, in the remote village of Lluc, is an institution regarded by many as the spiritual heart of Mallorca. The Santuario de Lluc was built mainly in the 17th and 18th centuries on the site of an ancient shrine. The monastery’s Baroque church, with its imposing façade, contains the stone image of La Moreneta, the Black Virgin of Lluc, supposedly found by a young shepherd boy on a nearby hilltop in the 13th century. The altar and sanctuary of one chapel are by Catalan architect and designer Antoni Gaudí. Along the Camí dels Misteris, the paved walkway up to this hilltop, there are some bronze bas-reliefs by Pere Llimona. Just off the main Plaça dels Pelegrins are a café and bar, a pharmacy and a shop. The museum, situated on the first floor, includes Mallorcan paintings and medieval manuscripts. The monastery incorporates a guest house.
From Lluc, 13 km (8 miles) of tortuous road winds through the hills and descends towards the coast, ending at the beautiful rocky bay of Sa Calobra . From here, it is just 5 minutes’ walk up the coast to the deep gorge of the Torrent de Pareis.
Sheer cliff face rising out of the sea at Sa Calobra
Calle Guillem Cifre de Colonya, Tel: 971 53 50 77 .
Sant Antoni (17 Jan), Patron Saint (2 Aug).
Although Pollença has become one of Mallorca’s most popular tourist spots, it still appears unspoiled. The town, with its ochre-coloured stone houses and winding lanes, is picturesquely sited on the edge of fertile farmland. The Plaça Major, with its bars frequented mainly by locals, has an old-world atmosphere.
Pollença has fine churches, including the 18th-century Parròquia de Nostra Senyora dels Angels and the Convent de Santo Domingo, containing the Museu de Pollença , with its displays of archaeology and art. It also holds Pollença’s Classical Music Festival in July and August. A chapel on the hilltop, El Calvari , is reached either by road or a long climb of 365 steps. On the altar there is a Gothic Christ, carved in wood.
Alcúdia , 10 km (6 miles) to the east, is surrounded by 14th-century walls with two huge gateways. Near the town centre is the Museu Mono-grafico de Pollentia , exhibiting statues, jewellery and other remains found in the Roman settlement of Pollentia, 2km (1 mile) south of Alcúdia.
On an island whose name has become synonymous with mass tourism, Palma surprises by its cultural richness. Under the Moors it was already a prosperous town of fountains and cool courtyards. After he had conquered it in 1229, Jaime I wrote, “It seemed to me the most beautiful city we had ever seen”. Signs of Palma’s past wealth are still evident in the sumptuous churches, grand public buildings and fine private mansions that crowd the old town. The hub of the city is the old- fashioned Passeig des Born, whose cafés invite you to try one of Mallorca’s specialities, the ensaimada, a spiral of pastry dusted with icing sugar.
9 km (6 miles) east.
Plaça Espanya, Tel: 971 75 20 51 .
Plaça Espanya, Calle Eusebi Estada.
Muelle de Peraires, Tel: 902 45 46 45 (Transmediterranea).
Plaça Reina 2, Tel: 971 17 39 90 .
San Sebastián (20 Jan).
Palau Reial de l’Almudaina
This palace belongs to the Spanish royal family and houses a museum, whose highlights include the chapel of Santa Ana, with its Romanesque portal, and the Gothic tinell or salon.
Apr–Oct: 8:15am–9pm Mon–Sat; Oct–Mar: 8:15am–7pm Mon–Sat.
About 5 km (3 miles) from the city centre, standing 113 m (370 ft) above sea level, is Palma’s Gothic castle. It was commiss-ioned by Jaime II during the short-lived Kingdom of Mallorca (1276–1349) as a summer resi-dence, but soon after became a prison until 1915.
A view along the circular walls of the Castell de Bellver
Apr–Oct: 10am–7pm Tue–Sat; Nov–Mar: 10am–6pm Tue–Sat; 10am–3pm Sun all year.
When Joan Miró died in 1983, his wife converted his former studio and gardens into an art centre. The building – “the Alabaster Fortress” – was designed by Navarrese architect Rafael Moneo. It incorporates Miró’s original studio (complete with unfinished paintings), a permanent collection, a shop, a library and an auditorium.
Located a 15-minute drive from the city centre, this aquarium is home to a range of flora and fauna from the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Visitors can see recreated ecosystems featuring 700 species and five million litres of seawater.
According to legend, when Jaime I of Aragón was caught in a storm on his way to conquer Mallorca in 1229, he vowed that if God led him to safety he would build a great church in his honour. In the following years the old mosque of Medina Mayurqa was torn down and architect Guillem Sagrera (1380–1456) drew up plans for a new cathedral. The last stone was added in 1587, and in subsequent years the cathedral has been rebuilt, notably early last century when parts of the interior were remodelled by Antoni Gaudí. Today Palma Cathedral, or Sa Seu, as Mallorcans call it, is one of the most breathtaking buildings in Spain, combining vast scale with typically Gothic elegance.
Apr–May & Oct: 10am–5:15pm Mon–Fri (3pm Nov–Mar, 6:15pm Jun–Sep); 10am–2pm Sat all year.
9am Mon–Sat, 9am, 10:30am, noon, 1pm, 7pm Sun.
One of the best-sited cathedrals anywhere, it is spectacularly poised high on the sea wall, above what was once Palma’s harbour.
to Llucmajor, then taxi.
Llucmajor Plaça Reina María Cristina s/n, Tel: 971 44 04 14 .
In the middle of a fertile plain called the pla rises a mini-mountain 543 m (1,780 ft) high, the Puig de Randa. It is said that Mallorca’s greatest son, the 14th-century theologian and mystic Ramon Llull, came to a hermitage on this mountain to meditate and write his religious treatise, Ars Magna . On the way up Puig de Randa there are two small monasteries, the 14th-century Santuari de Sant Honorat and the Santuari de Nostra Senyora de Gràcia. The latter, built on a ledge under an overhanging cliff, contains a 13th-century chapel with fine Valencian tiles inside.
On the mountain top is the Santuari de Cura , built to commemorate Llull’s time on the puig , and largely devoted to the study of his work. Its central courtyard is built in the typical beige stone of Mallorca. A small museum, housed in a 16th-century former school off the courtyard, contains some of Llull’s manuscripts.
Mallorca is not as rich in megalithic remains as Menorca, but this talaiotic village in the stony flatlands of the southern coast is worth seeing – particularly on a quiet day when you can wander among the stones in peace. The settlement, which dates back to around 1000 BC, originally consisted of five talaiots (stone tower-like structures with timbered roofs) and another 28 smaller dwellings. Little is known about its inhabitants and the uses for some of the rooms inside the buildings, such as the tiny underground gallery. Too small for living in, this room may have been used to perform magic rituals.
Part of the charm of this place lies in its surroundings among fields of fruit trees and dry stone walls, a setting that somehow complements the ruins. Apart from a snack bar nearby, the site remains mercifully undeveloped.
from Colònia Sant Jordi.
Carrer Doctor Barraquer 5, Colònia Sant Jordi, Tel: 971 65 60 73 .
From the beaches of Es Trenc and Sa Ràpita, on the south coast of Mallorca, Cabrera looms on the horizon. The largest island in an archipelago of the same name, it lies 18 km (11 miles) from the most southerly point of Mallorca. Cabrera is home to several rare plants, reptiles and seabirds, such as Eleonora’s falcon. The waters are important for marine life. All this has resulted in it being declared a national park. For centuries Cabrera was used as a military base and it has a small population. On it stands a 14th-century castle.
Avenida Cala Marsas 15, Tel: 971 82 60 84 .
Sant Joan Pelós (24 Jun).
This bustling agricultural town is the birthplace of Renaissance architect Guillem Sagrera (1380–1456) and the 20th-century painter Miquel Barceló. Felanitx is visited mainly for three reasons: the imposing façade of the 13th-century church, the Esglesia de Sant Miquel ; its sobrassada de porc negre (a spiced raw sausage made from the meat of the local black pig) and its lively religious fiestas including Sant Joan Pelós.
About 5 km (3 miles) southeast is the Castell de Santueri , founded by the Moors but rebuilt in the 14th century by the kings of Aragón, who ruled Mallorca. Though a ruin, it is worth the detour for the views to the east and south from its vantage point, 400 m (1,300 ft) above the plain.
from Porto Cristo.
1 Jan, 25 Dec.
Mallorca has numerous caves, ranging from mere holes in the ground to cathedral-like halls. The four vast chambers of the Coves del Drac are reached by a steep flight of steps, at the bottom of which is the beautifully lit cave known as “Diana’s Bath”. Another chamber holds the large underground lake, Martel, which is 29 m (95 ft) below ground level and is 177 m (580 ft) long. Music fills the air of the cave, played from boats plying the lake. Equally dramatic are the two remaining caves, charmingly named “The Theatre of the Fairies” and “The Enchanted City”.
The Coves d’Hams is so called because some of its stalactites are shaped like hooks –hams in Mallorcan. The caves are 500 m (1,640 ft) long and contain the “Sea of Venice”, an underground lake on which musicians sail in a small boat.
The entrance to the Coves d’Artà , near Capdepera, is 40 m (130 ft) above sea level and affords a wonderful view. The caves’ main attraction is a stalagmite 22 m (72 ft) high.
1 Jan, 25 Dec.
1 Jan, 25 Dec.
The dramatically lit stalactites of the Coves d’Artà