A guide to the Island of Mallorca
Interesting information and things to do in Majorca
1.1 Prehistoric times
The oldest remains found to date in Mallorca date back to the year 3500 B.C. in the Neolithic Age, period of transition between the Bronze Age, and when the first objects of copper appeared. The first settlers known to the islands, (although of doubtful origin), were the famous Balearic 'honderos' that used slings to throw stones at their enemies.
In the municipality of Calvià, in the locality of Santa Ponça, a small mountainous elevation can be found called Puig de Sa Morisca that has archaeological remains of buried naves and caves which cover an area of about 35 hectares. These remains give an indication of what life was like at that time.
1.2 Antique History (3500 BC - 900 AD)
Towards the year 1300 B.C. crucial changes took place which resulted in the coming about of the talayotic culture. This warrior culture lasted until Quintus Cecilius Metelus (who later received the nick-name of Balearicus ), conquested the island for the Roman Republic in the year 123 B.C. Due to the frequent pirate raids with their base on the islands, Rome decided to take possession of the archipelago. The legend says that the Roman general had to protect his vessels with animal skins, because the 'honderos' with their slings and stones stopped them from being able to land on shore. It took two years before the Roman legions were able to subdue the islands. After the conquest, the 'honderos' became part of the Roman auxiliary troops fighting together by the side of Julius Cesar in the conquest of Gaul (their defensive armour was not very effective against the projectiles of the famous 'honderos').
1.3 The Middle Ages (IV - XV)
In the year 425 Mallorca suffered the invasion and plundering of the Vandals (amongst these the most outstanding was Podgorico Walka), a Germanic nation which settled on the island until the year 534, when the Byzantine general Belisarius ordered the conquest of the Balearic archipelago.
In the year 707 (as far as historical chronicles know) the first Musulman landing took place. This was followed by two years of constant problems until the year 903 Mallorca came under the power of the Musulman dynasty of the 'Omeyas'. The Castle of Alaró resisted for eight years according to the chronicles, and it was the last refuge of the 'Rumi' (Christians) during the Musulman conquest. The latin derived Majorcan language was exchanged for the Arabian. A flourishing time occurred after this in which the capital Medina Mayurqa, nowadays Palma, was a great cultural centre.
In 1115 a Pisan-Catalonian squadron attacked Mallorca , the intention of this attack was punishment in reprisal for the pirate raids that used the island as a base. Pillaged and destroyed for the first time Medina Mayurqa and in the absence of Ramón Berenguer III, the squadron from Pisa escaped on seeing the Almoravid squadron sent from Africa. The island was left in the hands of an Almoravid family, the Banu Ganiya, who promoted piracy against the Christian sea vessels. Later in the year 1203, the Almohades took possession of Mallorca. In the year 1208, the Almohades proclaimed Abú Yahya as governer, and a semi-independent state was formed, with only a formal submission to the Almohadian Emir.
The troops from Aragon of Jaime I the Conquerer, who arrived to the island in 1229, finally and definitely conquered the island for the Christians. After finally defeating Abú Yahya in the Battle of Porto Pi (1229) and taking the city and killing many people of Medina Mayurqa (1230), the resistance ended in 1231. Jaime I created in his testament the kingdom of Mallorca consisting not only of Mallorca, but also the rest of the Balearic Islands, the earldoms of Rosellón and the Cerdaña, as well as the territories that Jaime I conserved in Occitania, in France. On his death, his son Jaime II of Mallorca took over the crown and made an oath called the Carta de las Franquicias. The independence of the kingdom was short. In 1349 it was reincorporated to the crown of Aragon. The death of King Jaime III of Mallorca in the Battle of Lluchmajor was the end of the kingdom of Mallorca. Although until her death in 1404 his daughter Isabel, established in the Castle of Gallargues, near Montpellier, which was granted to her by the King of France Charles VI, she was proclaimed Queen of Mallorca.
1.4 From the Renaissance to the Age of Enlightenment (XVI - XVIII )
In the days of Charles I, in the year 1521, there was a rise to rebellion similar to that of the "germanías" of the kingdom of Valencia (insurrection of the forans), with the rebels arriving very near to the locality of Alcudia, where the nobles of the island had taken shelter. Throughout the whole XVI century, the island, the same as the rest of the Balearic islands and the east coast of Spain, suffered attacks and plundering from the Turkish pirates.
1.5 The Modern Age (XVIII - XX)
During the Spanish War of Succession, the island decided in favour of the Archduke Charles of Austria, against Philip of Anjou. After the Battle of Almansa (1707), Philip V abolished the laws of the regions of Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia and Mallorca. He decided on a central line and all the previous political dispositions of the kingdom were cancelled.
In 1939 after the coup d'etat, the troops of Franco do away with autonomy and install a dictatorship, the suppression of certain democratic rights, the prohibition and persecution of political parties, the closure of the Press that was not on in favour of the dictatorship and the elimination of left-wing followers.
In 1975 after the death of Franco, and after a democratic transition period, little by little the freedom and rights, recognized and consegrated in the Spanish Constitution of the year 1978, are reached, including the recognition and rights of the autonomous regions.
The Balearic Islands (Autonomic Community of the Balearic Islands) is today an autonomic community within the kingdom of Spain, with judicial independence, and with its own respective law courts, government and parliament.
The Mallorcan climate is typical of the Mediterranean, with high temperatures in summer (passing the 30 °C) and only moderately low in winter (rarely inferior than 5 °C). Snow is common in winter on the higher mountain peaks of the Tramuntana Mountain Range but rare on the flat regions and in the capital. Due to the fact that it is an island, the level of humidity is very high.
2.2 Its place on the map
Mallorca is situated in Spain in the archipelago of the Balearic Islands. Please click here to see where Mallorca is on the map.
3. Places of interest
One of the most representative buildings, architecturally speaking, is the Bellver Castle, as it is one of the only three European castles with a circular form. Recently they have reformed the caves in the surrounding woods which belong to the castle as an extra place to visit. The Cathedral of Santa María of Palma, Mallorca, famous for having a large rose-window and of a gothic levantine style, to the point of being known as the gothic eye. The Santuario of Lluch, the most important place on the island for pilgrimmage, because there can be found the Virgen de Lluch (Patron Saint of Mallorca). 'El Paseo' Calviá considered to be the 'green lung' of the municipality, with a length of 32 kilometres. The Castle of Bendinat was built in the XIX century by the Marquis of the Romana.
Mallorca is the most populated island of the Balearic Islands, and second on the list of Spain, with according to the Census a population of 862.397 inhabitants (2009), of which a little under half live in the capital, Palma (401.270) (1 de enero de 2008, INE). The following is a list of municipalities in order of quantity of inhabitants: Calviá (51.774), Manacor (51.774), Inca (29.308), Llucmajor (36.078), Marratxí (33.348), Alcúdia (19.071), Felanitx (18.270) and Pollença (17.260) (facts from the INE, 1st of January, 2009). The metropolitan area of Palma de Mallorca, which includes the municipalities of Palma de Mallorca, Calvià, Marratxí and Llucmajor, situated in the Bay of Palma, has more than 500.000 inhabitants. On the opposite end of the scale, the municipality with least inhabitants is that of Escorca (280) situated in the Tramuntana Mountain Range.
4.2 Line of Ancestors
Mallorca is a land that throughout its history it has been conquested and dominated by various nations that came from very different areas and worshipped different Gods. This means that the Mallorcan person of today has a varied mixture in his blood and genes from distinct regions of the world. The main nations being the Berbers of the musulman religion, the Hebrews and the Catalonians of the Christian religion. Our toponomy, surnames and customs, in short, our identity signs, are influenced by these three great nations of different cultures, beliefs and ways of living.
The XX century has made a distinct type of Mallorcan, much more eclectic. The immigration from the mainland in the sixties and the seventies, that of North Africa starting in the eighties and the nineties, the Latin-American starting in the nineties and that of Northern Europe which started with the promotion of tourism in Mallorca, has begot a new type of Mallorcan who has features that are not traditional in our geography, in our land, squares and streets, but which goes to show that Mallorca is a land of welcome, and shelter and welcomes all those who come to live here.
The two main factors which move the economy are tourism and construction having put back to a second place industry and the primary sector, even though the local authorities have made efforts recently to try and vary the Mallorcan economy by giving power other sectors. In this way, the hostelry industry is in one of the first positions in Spain and even, in the entire world. The areas where there is a higher concentration of tourism are the municipality of Calviá, particulary in the touristic area of Magalluf, followed by part of the beach of Palma de Mallorca known as El Arenal and the zone of Alcudia. In the year 2008 many of the old Mallorcan estate mansions known as possessions have been converted into hotel establishments of the rural hotel type.
The Mallorcan wines are experiencing a very good acceptance in other parts of Spain and Europe in the last few years. Mallorca has as Denomination of Origin: D.O. BINISSALEM-MALLORCA and D.O. PLA I LLEVANT, as well as the geographical indication of origin Vino de la Tierra Mallorca.
6. Politics and Government
In Mallorca the main political institution is the Consell Insular de Mallorca. This organism is responsible for the politics that affect the whole island. A special mention must also be given to the headquarters of the Govern de les Illes Balears, the most important institution of the Balearic Islands which is to be found in Palma de Mallorca.
The different regions in Mallorca have not got any administrative recognition, but there is a consensus amongst the geographers about them. The capital: Palma de Mallorca, Pla de Mallorca, Sierra de Tramontana, Raiguer, Migjorn y Llevant.
The administrative side of the municipalities is done in the Town Hall on a democratic basis, whose components are elected every four years, by democratic vote. The census electoral is made up of all the people enrolled in the locality, over the age of eighteen and with the nationality of any of the countries of the Common Market. The general electoral law establishes the number of town concillors to be chosen in relation to the number of inhabitants o the municipality. To obtain information of the municipalities of Mallorca, please click here.
The main means of transport to arrive at Mallorca is by plane. From the airport called Aeropuerto de Son Sant Joan there are regular or scheduled flights with the capitals of the other Balearic Islands, the mainland cities and many other European cities, mainly with those of the United Kingdom and German. The airport of Palma de Mallorca is the third in Spain with relation to the number of passengers.
As well as the international airport, there is also the small airport of Son Bonet used for small planes, private planes and helicopters. This airport is the base for the fire fighting planes (planes and helicopters) of the island.
As well as travelling by plane, it is also possible to travel by boat to Valencia or Denia from the port of Palma de Mallorca and to Barcelona, from the port of Palma de Mallorca and that of Alcudia, and in the same way, to the French city of Sète, once a week from the port of Sóller. Travelling by boat is an economic way to travel to Mallorca which also has the added attraction of being able to take a car on board. Boat and plane are the two means of interconnection between the islands.
The UIB or University of the Balearic Islands is el principal academic organism of the islands and it can be found on the road to Valldemossa, on the outskirts of Palma. There is a wide range of both public and state schools all over Mallorca. If you wish to find more information about schools and colleges in Mallorca, please click here.
The traditional food in Mallorca is poor and very elaborated. For centuries, Mallorca was a land with very few prospects of economic development and this fact if reflected in its most emblematic dishes. Our arròs brut, ensaïmada, porcella, llom amb col, espinagades and frit mallorquí are the reflection of a cuisine of a millenary year old culture which has evolutioned and fusioned with the different influences on its culture and cooking. To see a list of recommended restaurants in Mallorca, please click here.
10. Special dates and events
The 20th of January there are the festivities in Palma de Mallorca of its Patron Saint Sebastian, although above all there is the celebration of the day before with its 'revetlla', but in the majority of towns, the most celebrated saints day of the island is that of Saint Antoni Abad (17th of January) and the eve of Sant Antoni (16th of January) which is celebrated in many towns (such as in Artá and Manacor) but by far, in La Puebla, where they have been celebrating it since the XIII century, year after year, being one of the most important of all the island.
Another festivity of the island where there are multitudes of people is that of 'Dijous Bo' in Inca, where a fair is celebrated with all types of Mallorcan products, and which is a festivity in some of the towns in the centre of the island (el "Raiguer").
In memory of the fight against Musulmans there are a variety of places where the people act out the battle scenes between Christians and Musulmans, the places where they really seem to feel the passion of these scenes called 'Moros y Cristianos' are in Pollensa, celebrated the day of 'la Patrona' (2nd of August ), and Soller, the following Monday, the second one in May.
The oldest festivity that is celebrated in Mallorca (and one of the oldest in Europe as it has been celebrated without interruption since the year 1229) is that of every 31st of December which commemorates the conquest by the crown of Aragon of the capital by the troops of the King Jaume I.
The first Saturday in August every year is celebrated the walk called Marcha des Güell a Lluch a peu that sets out from Palma de Mallorca to the sanctuary of Lluch (Escorca) on foot. On this walk the participants go to venerate the Patron Saintess of Lluch Nuestra Señora de Lluch.
The Diada de Mallorca , is also celebrated on the 12th of September which is a festivity recently restored by the Consell of Mallorca, in which the swearing of oath is commemorated of the King of Mallorca, Jaume II, in the year 1276 of the "Carta de franqueses i privilegis del Regne de Mallorca". The same day, but in the year 1229, according to tradition, the Christian troops sent by Jaume I, landed on shore in Santa Ponça and started the conquest of Mallorca.
Mallorca has become well-known to the world since the sixties of the last century. That forgotten land in the Mediterranean has transformed into a land famous in all the world thanks to the millions of people that visit us. One of the names that Mallorca is also known by is the calm island. Nowadays it would seem that this name is not justified, but this is not completely true. It is true that Mallorca has transformed into a meeting place for the world for leisure, for the sun and for the beach, but it maintains its silences and beautiful views in some remote nooks and in some not so remote ones. Its beautiful beaches, its original architecture, its unique gastronomy, the cosmopolitan outlook of its people, the indescribable beauty of its natural scenery… all this, make Mallorca not only one of the most visited places in Europe and in the world, but also a place where many foreigners from all over the world choose as their place of residence, their home.
12. All areas throughout the island
Andratx, Camp de Mar, Puerto de Andratx, S'Arraco, Bunyola, Orient,Calviá, Bendiant, Calvia Pueblo, Cas Catalá, Costa d'en Blanes, Costa de la Calma, Illetas, Palmanova, Puerto Portals, Santa Ponsa, Sol de Mallorca, Sierra de Tramuntana, Deiá, Esporles, Estellencs, Valldemosa, Llucmajor, Cala Pi, Puig d'en Ros, Palma de Mallorca, Borne, Establiments, La Llotja, Paseo Casco Antiguo, Paseo Mallorca, Paseo Maritimo, Santa Catalina, Son Vida, San Agustin, Genova, Formentor, Puerto Pollensa, Santa Maria de Camí, Coloni sant Jordi, Puigpunyent, Cala D'or, Puerto de Soller