Mallorca is about 100 km long, its surface area amounts to 3640 square kilometres and the number of inhabitants reaches 859 289 persons. Palma de Mallorca is the most important city and the capital of the island. The island is mostly composed of Mesozoic limestone and through the northwest coast of the island there runs Serra de Tramuntana mountain range with Puig Major, its highest peak (1445 metres above the sea level). A fertile lowland with numerous croplands occupies the central part of the island. Enchanting olive, fig and citrus groves, and robust vineyards are admired by tourists, to whom most of the crops are exotic. In mountainous areas sheep graze.
Tourists are also intrigued and attracted by the island’s numerous caves, whose number is estimated at as many as 4 thousand. Coves de Drach, i.e. the Dragon’s Cave is the most famous and at the same tame the most interesting of them. It is located on the west coast in the town of Porto Cristo. It is also famous for Martel, its underground lake, one of the biggest in the world.
The history of Mallorca dates back to about the 1st millennium B.C., when it was seized by the Phoenicians. It was subsequently taken over by the Greeks who ruled on the island for a few centuries and gave the Balearic archipelago the name originating from the word ballein, meaning sling shooting. The island was inhabited by sling shooters who took part in the Punic wars.
In antiquity Mallorca belonged to Carthage and Rome. The cities of Pollentia and Palmaria were founded in the period. They presently form Palma de Mallorca, the island’s capital. In the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. the island was being conquered by the Vandals and Visigoths and subsequently by Arabs, who finally seized the island. Since 1229 the island was under the rule of Aragon, and from 1276 to 1349 it belonged to the independent Kingdom of Mallorca. Only after that period the charming island became the property of Spain, to whom it presently belongs.
It is worth noticing that apart from the Spanish, also the Catalan are official languages of the island; however, it was different in the past. At the time of General Franco’s rule Spanish was the only language allowed on the territory.
It is difficult to enjoy the uniqueness of the place while one stays in a giant hotel. Some even decide not to leave the premises, with regard, for example, to the necessity of participating in prepaid meals, which can be a nuisance. Renting a house in Mallorca allows us to feel the atmosphere of that fantastic place by feeling like one of its inhabitants. It is priceless to feel the total freedom of doing whatever one feels like. Those who chose the option may rest in the shade when they get tired of the hot Spanish sun, or sunbathe as they wish, without the unpleasant feeling of being watched by others. Is it better to swim in the sea, or in the swimming pool overlooking the sea? It is up to the lessee to decide.
Over centuries, the beautiful Mallorca was being attacked by pirates. It is interesting to know that Barbarossa, a legendary pirate feared by travellers of the Mediterranean Sea, resided on Mallorca’s west coast, on the island of Sa Dragonera.
Poles should also be aware that Fryderyk Chopin lived on the island between 1838 and 1839. To commemorate the fact, a museum celebrating the famous Pole was opened in 1929 in the town of Valldemossa where he stayed.
Mallorca is presently among the most attractive tourist areas, not only in Europe but also worldwide. The island is a mecca for travellers around the world. A rapid development of tourism took place in 1950’s when huge concrete hotels were erected there; sadly, they did not contribute to the beauty of the then picturesque island. Only 1990’s saw the demolition of the existing hotels and their replacement with modern, much prettier and smaller residential buildings. In 1999 an unexpected downfall was noted, demonstrating itself by a sharp decrease in the number of visitors. It was due to the introduction of a green tax amounting to 1 Euro a day per each visitor. The tax was withdrawn in 2003 in fear of a crisis in tourism. It certainly was the right move since an estimated 90 per cent of the islands revenue currently comes from tourism.
Palma, the capital of the island, was founded in 123 B.C. by Romans. It holds numerous breath-taking buildings that can be admired from the sea.
The island has many heritage sites, but the most famous of them is La Seu, a magnificent cathedral located on the sea shore. Its unique, majestic shape, numerous intricate window frames, impressive stained-glass windows, and a spectacular rose window, almost 14 metres in diameter and 100 square metres in surface area, deserve special attention. The interior of the cathedral was designed by Antonio Gaudi, an eminent architect.
Palacio Real de La Almudaina, the royal palace erected in the 14th century, is located near the cathedral; it still remains the place of residence of the Spanish monarchs. The island also houses a museum which is worth a visit. The building itself requires attention with its details originating from the Arabic culture. There is a number of other interesting museums in the capital of the island, including: Museo Es Baluard housing the works of Picasso, Gaugin, Cézanne and Antonio Tàpies; the Mallorca Museum of the16th century, whose exhibits, apart from paintings, include retables and ceramics. Ajuntament, the city hall located at Plaça de Cort, requires special attention. In neighbours on beautiful old buildings with exquisite balconies, distinctively tall windows and wooden window frames, giving the place a unique look.