Driving Routes Around Majorca Island
Circuit via Andraitx and Sóller
From Palma take either the expressway or the coast road, going west. The two roads join just beyond Palma Nova and continue to the turn-off (20km/12.5mi) for the holiday center of Santa Ponsa. 2km/1,25mi west of the town, on the rocky promontory of Sa Caleta, stands a cross commemorating the landing of Christian forces in 1229.
The route continues from Santa Ponsa by way of the lively holiday resort of Paguera to Andraitx (Majorcan Andratx), a beautifully situated little country town in a fertile agricultural area. Son Mas, an old country house, is now a local museum. The fortress-like church of Santa María dates from the 13th century.
Camp de Mar
Clear water, fine sand and scenic cliffs can all be found at this remote island cove.
Puerto de Andraitx
From Andraitx, C 719 runs 5km/3mi south west to the little port of Puerto de Andraitx (Majorcan Port d'Andratx), beautifully situated at the mouth of the Torrent de Saluet, which here opens out into a narrow bay forming an excellent natural harbor. The little town still preserves something of an old world aspect.
Northwest Coast, Majorca
From Andraitx C 710 runs along the impressive northwest coast of Majorca, with numerous viewpoints. One of the finest is the Mirador de Ricardo Roca, 6km/4mi southwest of the picturesque village of Estellencs (Majorcan Estallenchs). Around both here and the next village of Bañalbufar (Majorcan Banyalbufar) vegetables are grown on the terraced fields characteristic of Majorca.
Beyond Bañalbufar, C 710 turns inland and in a few kilometers comes to a junction where a road goes off on the right to Esporlas (Majorcan Esporles). 1km/0.75mi along this road is the old country house of La Granja (the "Grange"). There was a house here in Moorish times which was later occupied by Cistercian monks. The present owners have left it largely unrestored, so that it conveys an impression of unspoiled authenticity, with its sheds for farming equipment, living rooms, kitchen, bakery, domestic chapel, storerooms and various workshops, still containing their implements and equipment, and walls faced with majolica tiles. Behind the house is a romantic garden with glorieta and grotto that cooled by fountain springs.
Address: Esporles Road, E-07014 Esporles, Spain
Cartuja de Valldemosa
The C 710 continues north from La Granja to another junction, where a road branches off on the right to Valldemosa. The great feature of interest here is the old Carthusian monastery (Cartuja, Charterhouse), originally established in 1399 on the site of a Moorish alcázar and rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries, in which Frédéric Chopin and George Sand spent the winter of 1838-39. The rooms they occupied are now open to the public. Here Chopin composed his ''Raindrop Prelude'' and other works, and George Sand gathered impressions for her book ''A Winter on Majorca''.
Visitors to Cartuja de Valldemosa can also see the monastic church and the former monks' cells; of particular interest, too, are the 18th century pharmacy, with its beautiful majolica drug jars, and the library. The monastery also houses the Municipal Museum, which has a collection of material on the life and work of Archduke Ludwig Salvator. Adjoining the monastery is the sumptuous Palace of King Sancho, a building redolent of the atmosphere of the past.
Address: Plaça de la Cartuja de Valldemosa, Spain
Miramar Son Morroig
Continuing on the coast road from Cartuja de Valldemosa, we come to the country house and estate of Miramar, once the property of the Austrian Archduke Ludwig Salvator (1847-1915), second son of Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany. A great amateur of the natural sciences, he pursued his researches during extensive travels in the Near East and the Mediterranean area. Between 1860 and 1913 he lived mostly on Majorca, in his country house of Son Morroig (2km/1.25mi northeast of Miramar), which is now preserved as a memorial to him. There he wrote his seven volume opus on the Balearics, which is still a standard work.
The small garden is shaded by palm trees and has a cover reservoir and a pillared glorieta.
The road from Miramar Son Morroig runs through the charming artists' village of Deya (Majorcan Deiá), for many years the home of the poet Robert Graves, and then via Lluch Alcari, once a Moorish country estate, to Sóller, nestling in the fertile Valle de los Naranjos in the shelter of high hills, with plantations of citrus fruits reaching almost into the heart of the town. Features of interest are the parish church of San Bartolomé and a number of handsome 17th and 18th century patrician houses.
5km/3mi north of Deya is Puerto de Sóller, the most important port on the north coast. Sóller can also be reached from Palma by rail (five or six services daily); this trip should not be missed by railroad enthusiasts. Sóller and Puerto de Sóller are linked by an old-world tram.
Gardens of Alfabia
From Sóller C 711, heading for Palma, climbs to the Coll de Sóller. On the far side of the pass are the gardens of Alfabia, once the country residence of the Moorish Viziers, who, with their skill in irrigation techniques, created these very beautiful gardens, in which date palms, bamboos, lemons and oranges flourish. The house, in Late Baroque style, contains valuable furniture and paintings.
C 711 continues from the Gardens of Alfabia past the little market town of Buñola (Majorcan Bunyola) and comes in another 2km/1.5mi (off the road to the right) to the country house of Raixa (Majorcan Raxa), once a Moorish estate, which has beautiful Italian-style terraced gardens with fountains. From here the road continues due south to Palma.
Castillo de Alaro
Turn off at Buñola into a hill road on the left which runs up, through beautiful scenery, to the Coll de Hono, passes through Orient and comes to the Castillo de Alaró, the origins of which probably go back to Roman times. The road continues south through Alaró to join C 713 at Consell, from which it is 19km/12mi back to Palma.
Through the Hills to Cabo Formentor
The route which begins by following C 711 to Sóller, and a short distance beyond the town turns right into a magnificent hill road (C 710) follows a winding course, passing the picturesque old mountain village of Fornalutx and the viewpoint of Ses Barques, to the foot of Majorca's highest peak, Puig Mayor (1,443m/4,734ft). Here the road passes through the Gorch Blau ("Blue Ridge"), a rocky gorge 500m/550yd long and up to 110m/330ft deep. The mountain stream which has carved out the gorge has now been dammed higher up to make a reservoir, the Barranco del Gorch Blau. Above this, to the east, is the Puig de Massanella (1,348m/4,423ft), famed for the magnificent panoramic views to be had from the top; it can be climbed from Lluch monastery in around eight hours.
La Calobra Torrent de Pareis
A little to the east of Gorch Blau the road known as La Calobra (the "Snake") goes off on the left and descends through wild and romantic scenery, with many bends, to the coast far below. It is well engineered but testing for the driver. Near the top, in what is known as the Nus de la Corbeta ("knot in the tie"), it turns through an angle of 270 degrees and passes under itself. It then continues down past labyrinthine rock formations and great monolithic pinnacles to the Cala de Calobra, a little cove enclosed by steep cliffs. From here it is a few minutes' walk to the narrow gorge of the Torrent de Pareis, which reaches the sea in a wide rock basin.
Monasterio de Lluch
From the turn-off for La Calobra C 710 continues northeast. At the hamlet of Escorca a country road goes off on the left to the monastery of Nuestra Señora de Lluch, Majorca's principal pilgrimage center, where, according to legend, a shepherd boy found a black wooden figure of the Virgin in the forest. The present monastic buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries. On the first floor of the monastery is a museum. In the aisled Baroque church, on the wall facing the high altar, is the much venerated image of the Virgin known as La Moreneta (the "Dark- Skinned One"). Adjoining the monastery is a Way of the Cross.
The C 710 now runs down through a karstic landscape to the plain below and comes to Pollensa (Majorcan Pollença), a center of the Majorcan textile and shoemaking industries. From the parish church of Nuestra Señora de los Angeles a flight of 365 steps, flanked by cypresses, leads up the Puig del Calvari to a Baroque pilgrimage chapel.
From Puerto de Pollensa, an old fishing village, a very beautiful road runs 21km/13mi northeast to Cabo Formentor (Majorcan Cap Formentor), at the end of a long, narrow peninsula. It first climbs to a saddle in the hills, with the Mirador de Mal Pas (magnificent views), and then runs down, with many bends, passing a side road leading to the luxury Hotel Formentor, beautifully situated above a bay on the south side of the peninsula, and continues to Cabo Formentor with its lighthouse, the most northerly point on Majorca (panoramic views).
Palma to Alcudia
From Palma C 713 runs northeast over the Huerta de Palma and after passing through Santa María del Camí comes to Inca (29km/18mi), where most of Majorca's leather factories are based.
Cuevas de Campanet
8km/5mi beyond Inca a road goes off on the left to the village of Campanet, near which is a cave system discovered in 1945. The caves, which are now open to visitors for a total length of 1,300m/1,425yd, contain interesting sinter formations.
After passing a side road (on the left) to Pollensa, C 713 continues to Alcudia, a Phoenician foundation which during the Roman period became capital of the island under the name of Pollentia (not to be confused with Pollensa). The old town is surrounded by an almost complete circuit of excellently preserved 14th century walls, incorporated in which, at the southwest corner, is the parish church of Sant Jaume. To the south of the church are the excavations of Roman Pollentia. In the old town there are a number of handsome burghers' houses and an archeological museum (beside the Town Hall). Outside the town, on the road to Puerto de Alcudia, are the remains of a small Roman amphitheater. Puerto de Alcudia itself is very much a tourist resort, with numerous hotels, bars and discothèques.
To the Caves on the East Coast
From Palma C 715 runs east to Algaida. A few kilometers before the town, at Son Gual, is a Prehistoric Park, with lifesize reproductions of prehistoric animals.
2km/1.5mi before Algaida are the Gordiola glassworks, where visitors can watch glassblowers at work, and where there is a small but interesting museum of glassware.
Puig de Randa
The most attractive excursion from Algaida, and one of the most rewarding excursions on the whole island, is to the Puig de Randa (542m/1,778ft), with three monasteries which are much frequented places of pilgrimage. It is reached by taking the Lluchmayor road as far as Randa (5km/3mi), from which a minor road ascends to the monasteries through beautiful scenery.
Nuestra Señora de la Cura
On the summit of the Puig de Randa is the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Cura. Ramón Llull (1235- 1316), who lived here for some time, made the hermitage an important center of intellectual and spiritual life. In the loggia to the right of the church are a series of fine majolica panels. In the church is a ''Bethlehem Grotto'' of the type common on Majorca.
A short distance from Nuestra Señora de Gracia, a majolica panel on the main road indicates the way to the 14th century monastery of Sant Honorat, the forecourt of which is planted with pines and carob-trees. Within the monastery, in front of the church, is a majolica figure of the Virgin and Child, flanked by Ramón Llull and Arnau Desbrull, founder of the monastery.
Nuestra Señora de Gracia
Half way up the hill from Puig de Randa a track goes off on the right and passes through a gateway into the monastery of Nuestra Señora de Gracia (15th century), magnificently situated under a sheer rock face in which large numbers of birds have made their nests.
The main route continues from Puig de Randa on C 715 and after passing Montuiri, a picturesque little town off the beaten tourist track, comes, soon after Villafranca de Bonany, to the turn-off for Petrá. This was the birthplace of the Franciscan friar Junípero Serra (1713-84), who was active as a missionary in the Mexican peninsula of Baja California and the American states of California and Texas. He founded a number of mission stations, including two which developed into the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. He is commemorated in Petrá by a series of majolica panels which can be found in a narrow street beside the church of San Bernardino, in the Museo Serra, and in the house nearby where he was born.
Manacor, Majorca's second largest town, lies on C 715 50km/31mi from Palma.
Manacor is known far beyond the bounds of Spain for its artificial pearls, which non-experts cannot distinguish from the real thing.
The oldest and best-known factory is the Firma Majórica, founded in 1890, which has a showroom and shop at the west end of the town, on C 715; visitors who want to see the process of manufacture will be guided to the factory in the town center.
C 715 continues from Manacor to Artá. Here, on a hill surrounded by battlements from which there are good views, is the Baroque Santuario de San Salvador. In a wooded area to the south of the town are the remains, known as Ses Paises, of a megalithic settlement (c. 1000-800 B.C.) surrounded by a double ring of walls.
Beyond Artá on C 715 is Capdepera, an old-world little town with a prominently situated 14th century castle, the chapel of which (1323) still survives.
From Capdepera a detour can be made to Cala Ratjada, once a fishing village and now a holiday resort. From here it is a 2km/1.5mi walk to the lighthouse on Cabo Capdepera, the most easterly point on Majorca.
Cuevas de Artá
Minor roads run southeast from Artá and southwest from Capdepera to a crossroads from which a road continues southeast, passing a 13th century watch-tower, to the Cuevas de Artá, on the coast. The entrance to this cave system, which has a total length of 450m/500yd, is 40m/130ft above sea level. The caves contain impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
From the crossroads southwest of Capdepera, the southwest road comes to Son Servera, from which a road goes down to Cala Millor. To the south of this resort is the Reserva Africana, an area of some 40 hectares/100 acres in which large African mammals (but no big cats) live in natural conditions. Visitors can drive through the reserve in their cars.
Cuevas del Drach
The road continues from Son Servera to the attractive little port of Porto Cristo. 1.5km/1mi south of the village are the Cuevas del Drach ("Dragon Caves"), one of Majorca's major tourist attractions. There are four chambers containing a variety of fantastically shaped stalactites and stalagmites and a large underground lake. The Lago Martel, named after the French speleologist Edouard Martel, who explored the caves, lies 39m/128ft under the surface and is 177m/194yd long and 29m/95ft deep.
Caves of Hams
2km/1.5mi west of Porto Cristo on the road to Manacor are the Cuevas dels Hams ("Caves of the Fish-Hooks"). The caves get their name from the shape of some of the stalactitic formations, particularly in the chamber known as the Angel's Dream, which grow in all directions and curve into the shape of fish-hooks. In these caves too there is an underground lake, known as the "Venetian Lake".
Address: Carretera Mancor, E-07680 Porto-Cristo, Spain
Sa Torre Cega
This 8ha garden enclosed flowering shrubs and pine trees which get a setting for the important collection of modern sculpture.
To the South and South-East Coasts
From Palma the route follows the fine new road to the airport and then continues through the resorts on the Playa de Palma. At El Arenal the road turns inland and comes to the market town of Lluchmayor (Majorcan Llucmajor), which owes its prosperity to the shoemaking industry. Northeast of the town in 1349 was fought the battle in which the Majorcan king Jaime III was defeated by his cousin Pedro IV of Aragon; Jaime lost his life and Majorca lost its independence.From Lluchmayor an excursion can be made to the Puig de Randa.
Campos del Puerto
From Lluchmayor C 717 runs southeast to Campos del Puerto, which preserves something of its medieval atmosphere. The parish church of San Julián, on the main road, has a painting by Murillo.
Beyond Lluchmayor, still on C 717, is Santañy (Majorcan Santanyi). From here a road runs southwest to Ses Salines, which takes its name from the large salt-pans to the west of the town. Round the village are numerous prehistoric remains.
From Santañy the route turns northeast. From this road there are many little side roads running down to picturesque calas on the southeast coast which have been developed in varying degree for tourism.
Soon after the side road running down to the little port of Porto Colom another road turns inland and goes northwest to Felanitx. The most notable feature of the town, which is built on four hills, is the handsome parish church of San Miguel, which was begun in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 16th and 17th. Felanitx is also noted for its sausages.
Ermita de San Salvador
2km/1.5mi before Felanitx a road of great scenic beauty, particularly in the second half, goes off on the left to the Ermita de San Salvador, an important Majorcan pilgrimage center. At the sanctuary stands a 7m/23ft high figure of Christ, from the base of which there are magnificent views of the coast. The church (18th century) contains one of the "Bethlehem grottoes" commonly found in Majorcan churches.
Castillo de Santueri
6km/4mi southeast of Felanitx, on the main ridge of the Serranía de Levante, is the Castillo de Santueri, one of the best preserved medieval castles on the island.
Capicorp Vey (Capocorp Vell)
Instead of taking the direct road from El Arenal to Lluchmayor it is possible to follow the coast road, which at Cabo Blanco turns inland and comes to Capicorp Vey (Majorcan Capocorp Vell), a site of the Pre-Talayot period (1000-800 B.C..), with remains which include five talayots.
The road returns from Capicorp Vey to the coast at Cala Pí, a fjord-like inlet with crystal-clear water. From here it is possible either to continue to Ses Salines or to turn back to Lluchmayor.