Tourists flock to Mallorca every year to soak up the Spanish sun on its beaches. Along with its sandy stretches, this Balearic island is home to a number of cultural treasures, including gothic castles and subterranean lakes. We list some of the most impressive attractions on the island.
Located in the picturesque Sierra de Tramuntana, the Gardens of Alfàbia are bursting with colourful vegetation and idyllic water features. The greenery envelops a historical farmhouse, which is open to the public. The building is an architectural gem—its features hark back to the Moorish occupation and are combined with Baroque elements from the later reformation of the site.
Be transported back in time at the ruins of the Roman city of Pollentia. Founded in 123 BC, the city was once the capital of the Balearic islands. Nowadays, the site, including the well-preserved Roman theatre and forum, is open to the public. Bring plenty of water and comfortable shoes and spend the morning exploring. Finish your visit with a look around the museum to learn about the fascinating history of the ruins.
If sightseeing has taken its toll on your feet, a ride on the Sóller train is a great way to discover the Mallorcan landscape without moving from your seat. Since its opening in 1912, the train has been operating daily. The efforts to preserve the rustic, old world charm have been successful. Its narrow gauge, for example, which is characteristic of the first trains, has been maintained.
Be sure to take a camera along when you visit Cap de Formentor. This zone, where the Sierra de Tramuntana meets the Mediterranean, marries together the beauty of mountainous and coastal landscapes. The journey through windy, narrow roads is not for the faint-hearted, but the views from the various lookout points which punctuate the trajectory are well worth the trip. Check out the windswept lighthouse, Faro de Formentor, which is perched on a cliff.
Art lovers should not miss the Museu Fundació Juan March. The museum is a converted stately home nestled in the old town of the island’s capital, which dates back to the 17th century. The collection features some of the masters of the Spanish vanguard, including Salvador Dalì, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. Despite its small size, the museum offers a varied tour through Spanish art of the 20th century.
Mallorca is home to a number of impressive castles. The Bellver Castle is particularly worth a visit, given the variety of its historical uses. Construction of the castle began in 1300 by order of James II, King of Mallorca, and it was designed to be a royal residence. Three kings of Mallorca resided here, including Jaume II, Sanç I and Jaume III. In 1717, it became a military prison, then later a private residence. The castle also imprisoned a number of French soldiers defeated at the Battle of Bailen. In 1821, the castle was temporarily converted into a currency factory, before becoming a prison again during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), when more than 800 Republicans were imprisoned here.
Not only does the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca boast an impressive collection of Miró’s works, with paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints numbering into the thousands, but the foundation has special links to Miró, having been his studio for several decades. Thanks to its unique nature, the foundation is the perfect place to come to grips with the elements that influenced Miró’s creative processes, and thus gain a new appreciation of his already impressive works.
It is said that James I of Aragon vowed to build this cathedral when he ran into troubled waters on his way to Mallorca. He promised that if he landed safely and conquered the island, he would dedicate the church to the Virgin Mary. Construction actually began after his death in 1229 on the site of a Moorish era mosque and also atop the former citadel of the Roman city, previously called Palmeria. It took over 400 years to finish, was later added to by Gaudí in the early 20th century and remains the most impressive and recognised architectural gem on the island.
Take a guided tour of the Drach Caves and be stunned by the beauty of the natural world. Admire the stalactites that drip overhead, the stalagmites that crawl up around you and enjoy the wonderland of shape and texture. The caves harbour one of the largest underground lakes in the world and the reflections of the skilfully positioned artificial lighting creates an eerie atmosphere.
The Mondragó Natural Park offers the opportunity to admire the island’s native vegetation and animals. The land in this park is shaped by decades of agricultural activity and a smattering of dry stone walls, irrigation ditches and waterwheels, creating a rustic charm. After a morning of bird-watching on the dry landscape, cool off in the crystal-clear water of the park’s beaches. The adventurous might like to snorkel from bay to bay.