Mallorca

Spain


Basic Facts More information about Mallorca / Spain Swedish version

 

Mallorca - "The Major Island"

Mallorca is probably not the first choise when planning for trekking in beautiful areas. I have never considered Mallorca as an alternative for a weeks trekking, until recently. Since my trekking on the island I have changed my mind. My impressions after one week of trekking I am sure that I will revert to Mallorca for new walks.

If you go beyond the huge hotellareas you will find beautiful sceneries and nice mountains to walk among. The island is specially attractive in February and March, when the fruittrees are flowering and the grass still is green.

The Balears, a group of islands in the western part of the Mediterranian Sea, consists of several islands, Mallorca is the largest of them. The regional capital Palma is located on the island. Other well-known islands belonging to the Balears are Ibiza and Menorca.

History in brief

It's not clear exactly where they came from or how they got there, but the first settlers on Mallorca were cave dwellers who left behind pottery and tools made from animal horns. The Talayotic period followed around 1000 BC, you can still see Talayots (cone-shaped towers) at Capocorp Vell in the south of the island. Phoenician and Greek traders came next and it's possible that the name Balearic comes from ballein, the Greek for sling throwing. These sling-throwers helped the Carthaginians fight the Romans in the 2nd Punic War, but by 123 BC the Romans had control of Mallorca. True to form they built roads and towns, and introduced the island to Christianity.

At the beginning of the 10th century Mallorca was annexed to the Emirate of Córdoba, kicking off 300 years of Moorish rule. During this time Mallorca had its ups and downs. There were serious squabbles between the Muslims and Christians, but trade prospered from its strategic position between Africa and Islamic Spain, and agriculture improved.

This prosperity tempted King Jaume I of Aragón and Catalunya, who, annoyed with the Emir of Mallorca for stealing some of his ships, decided to have a crack at the island in 1229. Successful, he created an independent Kingdom of Mallorca, unfortunately destroying many Moorish buildings in the process. On the plus side, he governed progressively, giving rights to the island's Jews, waiving taxation and stimulating trade. He also built Palma cathedral. On his death he left his realm to his two sons: Pedro inherited Catalunya, Aragón and Valencia; Jaume II received Montpellier, Roussillon and the Balearics. The Balearics continued to prosper, and in 1349 a jealous Pedro IV of Aragón landed in Mallorca and claimed it for himself.

Having lost its independence, Mallorca was quickly neglected by a ruling elite more interested in the Aragonese court. The islands were not allowed to trade with the newly discovered Americas, and the economy went into decline. The 16th century saw civil unrest, Jewish executions ordered by the Inquisition and threats from the Ottoman Turks. The 17th century wasn't much better: trade didn't improve and the plague killed thousands of people.

By the 18th century Mallorca's official language, Catalan, had been replaced by Castilian Spanish. This did not deter the waves of Catalan refugees who fled to the island during the Napoleonic wars. Famine, drought and epidemics made 19th-century life hard on the island, however. Communications with mainland Spain, a new railway and agricultural advancements helped and Catalan culture experienced a revival. Nonetheless many islanders left Mallorca for America.

With the advent of mass tourism in the 1950s the island made an impressive comeback. Since then thousands of people have flocked to the beautiful beaches every year (9 million in 1999 alone), and the islanders now enjoy the highest standard of living in Spain. But this has come at a price: unattractive resort developments have spoiled much of the coast, and more than a fifth of all property on the island is in foreign hands. In 1983 the Balearic Islands became one of Spain's autonomous regions, with Palma de Mallorca its capital. The administration now faces a dilemma: how to continue the prosperity without losing the island's natural beauty to concrete.

Geography

The Balearic Islands sit in the Mediterranean sea just off the northeast coast of mainland Spain; floating in between Menorca and Ibiza, Mallorca is the largest. The capital, Palma de Mallorca, is surrounded by rocky inlets and harbours on the southern side, while most of the high-rise tourist resorts line the east coast. Sa Dragonera is the large, uninhabited island off the island's westernmost point. The northwest is defined by the dramatic Serra de Tramuntana mountain range and Mallorca's highest peak, Puig Major (1445m). The northeast coast is made up of two sweeping bays: the Badia de Pollen ça and the larger Badia d'Alcúdia. The fertile plain known as Es Pla makes up a large part of inland Mallorca.

Nature

Mallorca's flora and fauna is rich. Trees such as the Aleppo pine, the evergreen holm oak and the carob tree are common, while the dwarf palm mainly grows around Pollença, Alcúdia and Andratx. Attractive orange and lemon orchards grow around Sóller. The tree heather and wild flowers (hyacinths, violets, gladioli, etc) are also stunning. 

Reptiles (snake and gecko), mountain goats, wild sheep, rabbits and toads are all residents on the island. Birds of prey, including ospreys, kestrels and the rare black vulture, inhabit the mountainous northwest, and migratory birds flock to the marshes in summer. The Parc Natural de l'Albufera and Cabrera Island are both protected areas.

Weather

The Mediterranean climate of the Balearics keeps Mallorca's winter comfortably mild (around 15°C). Summer temperatures of around 27°C (85°F) are perfect for swimming and other outdoor activities.

The island boasts 300-out-of-365 days of sunshine, but Mallorca's peak season is summer (June, July and August). At this time the resorts are packed, beaches are bursting and accommodation and restaurant prices are upped. You will get the best weather though, with sunny tan-friendly temperatures and a pleasantly bath-tub-like sea.

In May-June and September-October prices are lower, the island is less busy and the weather is still pleasant. Even in winter (December, January and February) the sun sometimes makes an appearance, but be warned - many businesses shut between November and April.

Tripinformation

During my first visit on Mallorca I stayed one week and travelled around, mainly on the western and central parts of the island. By using local busses and the old train between Palma and Soller I got many opportunities to see different environments; mountains, small villages and plains. Early spring the fruittrees are in blossom which makes the island even more beautiful.

On my first whole day on Mallorca I visited the capital Palma de Mallorca as I wanted to see the old town and other attractions. I was also lucky to see a marvelous carneval in connection with "The day of the Balears". This is a celebration going on for the whole day. It starts in the morning with the childrens parade when hundreds of children walk the street between the Almudaina Palace and the Placa del la Reina. It is a spectacular view to see the children in their fancy and imaginative dresses.

In the afternoon the real carneval starts. The participants line up close to Placa Joan Carles I. Here you can walk among them and take some nice photos. Also the adults are dressed in marvelous clothes. Around 5 PM the parade starts moving through the streets of Palma and it goes on for some hours. If you are in Mallorca during this day don't miss the carneval!

Palma de Mallorca, the regional capital

Around half of Mallorca's population live in the capital, Palma, and it's a buzzing, vibrant place. After dark, its famous nightlife rivals other Spanish cities. By day, you can explore the attractive old quarter crammed with cobbled lanes, tree-lined boulevards, Gothic churches and designer boutiques. You're unlikely to be alone; the city is usually packed with tourists, and you'll pass tacky souvenir shops on every corner. If you fancy hitting a nearby beach, your choice is limited to tourist developments a bus-ride away.

You can't miss the imposing Gothic cathedral, La Seo, built between 1230 and 1600. Visitors can wonder at Gaudi's curious wrought-iron sculpture hanging from the ceiling and check out the adjacent museum of shiny religious artefacts. In front of the cathedral stands the Palau de l'Almudaina, an Islamic castle that became a Mallorcan royal residence. The winding streets of the surrounding historic quarter are home to the Museu de Mallorca, a converted 15th-century palace containing archaeological finds, antiques and paintings of local dignitaries. The Banys Arabs (Arab Baths) are also in this area. Opposite the waterfront is the Gothic masterpiece La Loja, which contains an art museum. Just west of the city centre is the impressive Bellver Castle.

Trekking

I had five days to spend on treeking during my visit. As this was my first visit I spent them in different places. It is easy to reach starting points with local busses from the large busterminal close to Placa de Espana in Palma. For your planning, if you don´t search the Net, there are books and maps available in bookshops that can be of great support. You can make some nice mountaintrekks, walks through forrests and on large plains, all very different environments. All my trekks started in one place and ended in another, from where I took local busses back to Palma.

These are the five trekks I made on Mallorca:

Valldemossa - Deya

Soller - Fornalutx - Biniaraix - Soller - Port de Soller

Sineau - Petra - Santuari de Bonany - Vilafranca de Bonany

Lluc - Pollenca

Llucmajor - Nostra Senhora de Garcia - Santuari de Saint Honorat - Randa - Puig de Caldent - Llucmajor

All the trekks were very different.

Valldemossa - Deya is a nice walk through forrests and in a montainious area. Start the walk with a visit in the small town and its famous old monastery where Frederic Chopin and his lover George Sand spent their famous "winter of discontent" 1838/39. 

Walking from Soller via Fornalutx and Biniaraix to Port de Soller gives you possibilities to visit small villages with arabic heritage and through a nice forrest. In Port de Soller you reach the sea.

The walk from Sineau to Vilafranca de Bonany included a 10 kilometer walk on the railroad between Sineau and Petra. Here you walk on the plain with some nice farmhouses. Santuari de Bonany is an old monastery from where you have a nice view over the plain towards Manacor.

The walk from the large monastery Lluc to Pollenca offers some nice mountains views, if the weather is clear, and a walk on the partly left old road (12th century), paved with stones, to Pollenca. In Pollenca you can visit an old bridge built by the Romans.

The walk in the Llucmajor area gave possibilities to vist old monasteries, a nice countryside, the small mountain Puig de Caldent and the nice village Randa.

My trip to Mallorca exceeded my expectations. I was surprised over the nice trekking possibilities, the beautiful nature, the friendly and helpful people as well as some nice restaurants. To get most out of your visit come during springtime, when it still is low season. During this period the large, and ugly hotelareas are calm, different trees are in blossom and it is still green.

 

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The Carneval.
Palma 

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The Carneval.
Palma

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The Carneval.
Palma

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The Carneval.
Palma

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The Carneval.
Palma

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The Carneval.
Palma

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The Carneval.
Palma

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The Carneval.
Palma

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The Carneval.
Palma

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The Carneval.
Palma

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The Carneval.
Palma

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The Carneval.
Palma

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The Old Town.
Palma

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Fornalutx

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Puig de Caldent

 

Basic Facts:

Conventional longform: Republica de Espana

Area, total: 505 370 sq km
Coastline:
4 964 km
Population:
46 755 000
Population/sq km:
93
Capital/Population:
 
Madrid / 3 108 500

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Pico de Teide ( 3 718 m)
Largest rivers:
 Tejo, Ebro, Guadalquivir
Largest lakes:

Pop. growth rate: 0.57 % 
Infant mortility rate:
3
(deaths / 1 000 live births)
Life expectancy at birth (years):
Male / Female 79 / 85

Ethnic groups: Composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types
Religions: Roman Catholic 94.0 %, Muslims 1 %, other religions 5.0 %
Languages:
Castilian Spanish (official) 74 %, Catalan 17, Galician 7 %, Basque 2 % 
Literacy; % of pop. over 15 years:
Male / Female 98.7 / 97.2

Independence: 1492 
National holiday:
 October 12, Hispanic Day

GNP/capita: USD 29 875
Population below poverty line:  19.8 %
Currency: EURO (EUR)
Tourists (Annually): 57 316 000

Mobile telephones: 51 493 000
Internetusers:
28 119 000
Railways: 15 293 km
Mainroads:
681 298 km
 

Source: CIA World Factbook 2012/02

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Map of Mallorca


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The colours,red and yellow, were chosen as the colours for Spain in 1785. The current official flag was approved in 1936 and the flag with the crest was approved in 1981.


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The crest of Spain shows different crests of the regions Castilia, Leon, Aragon and Navarra.

At the bottom of the crest is an apple representing Granada.

The pillars were introduced by Charles V as a symbol of his empire.


 

More information about Mallorca / Spain Todays weather in 
Basic facts World Factbook
Walks on Mallorca Walkingtours Balearnet Palma
Papers Diari de Balears El Dia del Mundo

This page is updated 2012-03-13
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