MALLORCA: PLACES TO VISIT
The island of Majorca is part of the Balearic archipelago in the Mediterranean sea and, together with the islands of Ibiza, Menorca, Cabrera and Formentera, makes up the Autonomous Community of the Balearic Islands.
There are archaeological remains on the island dating from the neolithic era. Taulas, talayots and navetas have been left behind by the Talayotic culture, which existed during the bronze and iron ages. The necropolis of Son Real in Santa Margalida is representative of this culture.
The Balearic slingers native to the islands were famous for their mastery of the slingshot and came to form part of both the Carthaginian and Roman armies. In the year 121 BC, the island was conquered by the Romans with the aim of ensuring trade with the Phoenicians.
In 425, Majorca was invaded and pillaged by the Vandals and, subsequently, in 534, General Belisario recaptured it for the Eastern Roman Empire with its capital in Byzantium. From 902 the Balearic islands fell under Arab control until their defeat by James I of Aragon at the Battle of Puerto Pi in 1229, creating the kingdom of Majorca.
With the death of James III of Majorca and the capture of his son James in the Battle of Lluchmayor in 1349, this territory became permanently incorporated into the kingdom of Aragon. The island made an important contribution to advances in the navigational charts of the time with cartographers such as Jehuda Cresques.
In the modern era, events worth noting include the Majorcan uprising against Emperor Charles V and the island’s support for Archduke Charles of Austria in the Spanish war of Succession in 1701.
Majorca has conserved its rich historical patrimony through buildings such as the Gothic cathedral of Santa Maria, famous for its enormous rose window on the main facade, known as the Gothic Eye. The Castle of Bellver, a fortification, also Gothic, with a circular plan. The Palace of La Almudaina, built on the remains of the Arab alcazar. La Lonja, one of the island’s Gothic masterpieces, created by Guillermo Sagrera. The Convent of San Francisco, where the remains of the Majorcan sage Raimundo Lulio lie. The city hall with its Baroque facade. The Convent of Santa Clara with its square bell tower to one side. The church of Montesión, built on the site of a synagogue with its spectacular portico and the collection of modernist buildings known as Casasayas in the market square.
One of the areas that is worth highlighting is Calviá, where San Juan Bautista church is to be found. Manacor is home to the neo-Gothic Nuestra Señora de los Dolores and is the birthplace of Rafael Nadal, one of the best tennis players of all time. In Inca, we find the Monastery of San Bartolomé and the cloisters of Santo Domingo convent, both in the Baroque style. In Valldemosa, you’ll find the Charterhouse where Chopin and George Sand lived, as well as the Monastery of Santa María de Lluch in the Sierra de Tramontana area. We can’t forget Sóller, with its old railway linking places including Palma and Pollensa.
When it comes to nature, there are the beaches, coves and cliffs that encircle the island, the Caves of Drach and the Natural Park of Mondragón.
Tourism is an important source of income, as is the footwear industry. In addition, native breeds of dogs are bred here including the Majorca Shepherd Dog with its characteristic black coat, the Ca Rater Mallorquí and the Ibizan Hound, an active, playful dog with a reddish and white coat. Local folklore includes the Majorcan bolero and other traditional dances.
Majorca’s gastronomy includes Majorcan black pork, a species endemic to the island, which serves as the key ingredient for the Sobrassada sausage, as well as for the traditional Christmas meal of roast suckling pig. Other Majorcan dishes include soups, arroz brut (brothy rice with meat and vegetables), frito mallorquín (Majorcan fry-up with offal, peppers and potatoes) and
Tumbet, a traditional vegetable stew. When it comes to pastries, ensaimada is the ultimate local treat, which is a spiral pastry made of sweet yeast dough topped with powdered sugar. Majorcan wines include Binissalem-Mallorca and Pla Levante.