The Balearic Island Mallorca, “the pearl of the Mediterranean”, offers much more than endless coasts, gorgeous beaches and pure sunshine at approximately 300 days of the year. Many castles and forts serve as witnesses of the turbulent and often warlike history of the island. Pirate attacks are also part of the island’s history. Other monuments, in turn, owe their existence to the Christian faith of the Mallorca people and the rule of Christian kings. On the other hand, other monuments originate from the time when Arab rulers resided on Mallorca.
Take the time and use one of your holiday days to have a look at this evidence of the history of Mallorca. Thanks to the size of the island and the good infrastructure, you can reach many of the attractions listed here from your apartment, country house, villa or vacation home in maximum one hour by car. You'll see it's worth it.
The famous Saint Mary Cathedral, also known as "La Seu", is the symbol of the capital Palma de Mallorca. The monumental building is located at the Parc del Mar near the sea and is one of the most important and most popular attractions on the island. The building was erected over a construction period of three centuries, which began in 1300 under King James II, who reconquered Mallorca from the Moors. The church was built in the original Gothic style, but it also includes elements of Baroque, Classicism and the Catalan Modernism. Impressive are the round windows from which the rosette emerges to the east with a diameter of roughly twelve meters. Part of the cathedral also includes a museum.
On the east coast of Mallorca, tourists can admire an exceptional nature landmark. The Dragon Caves, known locally as Drac or Drach, are an accessible cave system extending over a total length of 1,700 meters. The four caves with seven lakes are illuminated and create a colorful spectacle. The 180 meters long and 30 meters wide Lake Martel is the largest underground lake in Europe. Boat tours on the lake take place regularly for visitors. The caves are open all year, but even in summer it is recommended to bring a jacket along due to the cool temperatures. The entrance is located in Manacor, on the outskirts of the village of Porto Cristo. A wide range of holiday cottages in different price classes are available close to the beach in the nearby towns of Cala Mandia and Cala Romántica.
The Charterhouse of Valldemossa is one of the oldest and most important sights of Mallorca. The Carthusian monastery was built in 1399 on the foundations of an Alcázar in Valldemossa, a small town on the north side of the Serra de Tramuntana near Sóller. It was built on behalf of Martin I, King of Aragon. Additional buildings which are still sightseeing-worthy were added in the following centuries. These include the neoclassical church and a pharmacy where the antique equipment is still on display. The Charterhouse also owes its notoriety to a holiday spent here by Frederic Chopin, whose death mask is on display in the monastery. Museums were also integrated in the monastery, where visitors will for example also find an old printing press from the 17th Century. The Charterhouse is just 20 kilometers away from the capital of Palma and is therefore an ideal place for a half-day getaway, reachable from many holiday villages and towns.
The pilgrimage place Santuari de Lluc is situated in Serra de Tramuntana, the mountains running in the northwest of Mallorca. The monastery is located approximately 35 kilometers away from Palma, between the mountains Puig Tomir and Puig de Massanella, both over 1,000 meters high, in a basin by the torrent Torrent Lluc. This was considered even in pre-Christian times a spiritual place. A sanctuary was built on the idyllic landscape in the 13th century. However, the construction of the main building, Basilica de Lluc, did not commence until the 17th century. Basilica de Lluc is a transept basilica where pilgrims worship a black Madonna statue found by a shepherd boy. The sanctuary of Lluc is a very popular destination for hikers, who often choose it as a destination for a day trip. Nearby, guests will find several restaurants, a small hotel, a botanical garden and a museum where ceramics, weapons and everyday objects of bygone eras are on display.
The natural park s'Albufera is situated on the Bay of Alcúdia, in the vicinity of the town of Muro in the northeastern part of the island. The wetland has an area of 1,650 acres and in 1988 it was officially declared to be a natural reserve. The vegetation consists of various plant species. Tamarisk and salsola can be found in the saline parts, whereas rushes, Ravenna grass and duckweed grow in the costal parts of the park. The area was designated a natural reserve in order to protect the birds living here. Over 50 different species of birds live in S’Albufera from the richness in fish in the region. Visitors can borrow binoculars for bird watching and get more information about the park at the reception. Guided tours are also available, but registration is required in advance. The park is open from 9 am to 5 pm in winter, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer.
Cap de Formentor is the most northeastern point of the island. On the Formentor peninsula, the cape impresses visitors with a view of a fascinating cliff shaped by wind and water. At its highest point, it reaches 384 meters above sea level. Among locals, the area and the cape are also known as the Meeting point of the winds, as the winds along the mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana meet here with the winds from the center of the island and the eastern Mediterranean. A 14-kilometer route with switchbacks which blend harmoniously in the landscape, leads tourists to the cape. On the side of the road there are several opportunities to stop. Well-known and popular is the Mirador del Mal Pas, which allows for an open view in all directions. Courageous tourists even dare to approach the cliff which drops vertically 300 meters until it reaches the sea. The lighthouse built in 1892 and located at the end of the peninsula is also frequently visited.
Bellver Castle (Castillo de Bellver) is a Gothic style castle which was erected in the 16th century to serve as a fortress. Located at a little over 100 meters above sea level, it was originally the defense center of Palma de Mallorca. Later it was used as a prison. Three fortified watchtowers were built inside the fortress and are surrounded by a four-meter wide trench. An embattled tower outside of the fortress connects with the battlement through a bridge, where a far-reaching panoramic view across the capital can be enjoyed. The Municipal Museum of Palma where a variety of archaeological exhibits on local history are held is also located in the Castillo de Palma.
Tip: If you are planning for a short stay of 2-3 days in Palma, renting a hotel room might make more sense than renting an apartment. For your hotel search you can use various Internet portals that offer price comparisons and availability checks.
In the heart of the mountains of Serra de Tramuntana, located in the village of Bunyola right on the street after Sóller, there is an attraction where visitors can observe old houses and enjoy abundant subtropical vegetation in a park landscape. A magnificent alee with three lanes of sycamore trees leads tourists to the Gardens of Alfàbia, where they can enjoy various types of palm trees and ponds where water lilies bloom. A manor house dating from the 12th century also holds a small museum. The house is furnished in different historical styles and allows visitors to learn about the country life on Mallorca. The Gardens of Alfàbia are open January through November every day except Sundays.
The Castle of Capdepera (Castell de Capdepera) represents the former city wall of Capdepera on the east coast of Mallorca. Due to the massive towers and the strong fortress walls, along which runs a broad walkway, the triangular construction is regarded as a fortification today, especially since the houses located within the walls of the fort are no longer inhabited. The former Chapel Nuestra Senyora de la Esperanza is located within the castle and used to be a part of the fortification. This can still be seen by the arrow holes on the roof of the church. Today, the chapel is used as a terrace. From here, visitors can enjoy a far-reaching view towards the Serres de Llevent and the coastal villages of Cales de Capdepera, which include popular holiday destinations such as Cala Ratjada and Canyamel.
The talayotic settlement Ses Paísses is a culturally and historically important archaeological site in the region Llevant on the east coast of Mallorca, close to the city of Artà. In the Bronze Age, the village was inhabited by the Talayot culture, probably between 1000 and 100 BC. Here, visitors can get a clear picture of prehistoric life. The remains of the nearly four-meter wide village wall serve as a proof of cyclopean masonry, where massive stone blocks were put together without grouting. In the center of the village the typical Talayot can also mostly be seen. The prehistoric epoch owes its name to the approximately four-meter high tower. Additional findings from the Talayot culture, namely items such as ceramics and jewelry, are on display at the nearby Regional Museum of Artà.