Long sandy beaches, beautiful Mediterranean sun and great food are things that I expected, what I was surprised about is Mallorca's rich history, hundreds of roundabouts and cycling turism.
Going to Mallorca was a natural choice, first because it's homeland(island) to one of us and second because it's a direct flight from Birmingham and only a 2h 25min long flight. Mallorca is one of the four Balearic islands: Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera which form a province of Spain, with Palma as a capital city. Mallorca is the largest island of the four, hence the name maior larger, as opposed to Menorca minor smaller.
On May 3rd we arrived to Palma before noon, picked up a rental car and with the map in our hands we drove all the way across the island (1h :-)...) to the northeast beach Alcudia. Playa de Muro in Alcudia Bay was our base but we had a chance to see most of the island in the four days we were there.
Mallorca has around 300 different beaches and some of them, like Formentor, remind me of the Adriatic coast a little bit. Formentor is a small hidden Mallorca bay in the north (fourth picture below).
|Playa de Muro|
|Calas de Mallorca|
The Island is relatively small and on a four to five day vacation it is possible to see a variety of places and beaches. Pollenca is a must! It is a beautiful town with narrow streets and a central square. Pollenca has a history of early Roman settlement and excavated remains of the ancient city of Pollentia are just several kilometers away near Alcudia. It is a little bit confusing since both places have very similar names but they are kilometers away. Pollenca is a very trendy town with beautiful small stores and restaurants while Pollentia is an ancient town/archeological site.
The excavation in Pollentia began quite late, in the 20th century. Below are pictures of the town forum, several houses and a Roman theater.
|Ancient Town of Pollentia|
The island has a rich history, legacy of both Christianity and Islam. Mallorca was conquered by the Roman Empire as well as the Moors. Christianity arrived to Mallorca in the 13th century through Jaume I of Aragon.
The picture below is from Pollenca, The Our Lady Of The Angels' Parish Church. It is the biggest one in Pollenca, a combination of gothic and baroque. It was built between 1714 and 1790 by the Architect Joan d'Arago.
|Our Lady Of The Angels' Parish Church|
Pollenca has many beautiful houses and buildings built between the 17th and 18th centuries and I really had a hard time selecting just a few pictures.
A large part of the island has separate bicycle/running lanes and wherever you go you can see groups of cyclists in action. The Mediterranean sun and diverse terrain (flat stretches, as well as hills and mountains) must make Mallorca attractive for them. And I guess the fact that it is an island and that there is only a limited number of cars that can "bother" them, helps too.
|Mallorca as a popular bicycle tourism destination|
Besides cycling one can guess that Mallorca is a place to play tennis as well. Or at least it was for one Mallorquin. Rafael Nadal was born in Manacor. We drove through Manacor and visited an amazing History Museum (Museo de Historia de Manacor), or as my husband put it "from ancient times to Rafa's day" :-).
|Museo de Historia de Manacor|
I mentioned the huge number of roundabouts at the beginning of the post, unfortunately I did not take any pictures because I was busy as a co-pilot. The roundabouts give the island a very relaxed and Mediterranean look, even though my husband links it to the corruption of the construction companies and their buddies in politics who approve the tenders :-). I would probably be overcritical (or just perceptive?) in the Balkans as well :-).
And of course we visited Palma, the capital. The first thing that catches one's eye when arriving to the city is the famous Cathedral of Santa Maria de Palma. It's a gothic Cathedral built on the site of a former Arab Mosque. The Cathedral has two rose windows, one of which shows a Star of David in its interior. Very interesting combination.
The window with the David Star is the largest Gothic rose window in the world. It has 1115 panes of glass.
|Puerto de Palma|