Majorca, or Mallorca is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea. It is the largest island in the Balearic Islands archipelago, in Spain.
The capital of the island, Palma, is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. The Cabrera Archipelago is administratively grouped with Majorca (in the municipality of Palma). The anthem of Majorca is La Balanguera.
Like the other Balearic Islands of Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera, the island is an extremely popular holiday destination, particularly for tourists from Germany, Ireland, Poland, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, and the United Kingdom. The name derives from Latin insula maior, „larger island“; later Maiorica, „the larger one“ in comparison to Minorca, „the smaller one“.
Founding of Majorca
Little is recorded on the earliest inhabitants of the island. Burial chambers and traces of habitation from the Paleolithic period (6000-4000 BCE) have been discovered, particularly the prehistoric settlements called talaiots, or talayots. They are Bronze Age megaliths forming part of the Talaiotic Culture. A non-exhaustive list is the following:
- Capocorb Vell (Llucmajor municipality)
- Necrí²poli de Son Real (east of Can Picafort, Santa Margalida municipality)
- Novetiforme Alemany (Magaluf, Calvií )
- Poblat Talaií²tic de S’Illot (S’Illot, Sant Llorenç des Cardassar municipality)
- Poblat Talaií²tic de Son Fornés (Montuí¯ri municipality)
- Sa Canova de Morell (road to Colí²nia de Sant Pere, Artí municipality)
- Ses Paí¯sses (Artí municipality)
- Ses Talaies de Can Jordi (Santanyí municipality)
- S’Hospitalet Vell (road to Cales de Mallorca, Manacor municipality)
Roman Empire and Late Antiquity
The island was occupied by the Romans in 123 BCE under Quintus Caecilius Metellus Balearicus. It flourished under Roman rule, during which time the towns of Pollentia (Alcíºdia), and Palmaria (Palma) were founded. In addition, the northern town of Bocchoris, dating back to pre-Roman times, was a federated city to Rome. The local economy was largely driven by olive cultivation, viticulture, and salt mining. Majorcan soldiers were valued within the Roman legions for their skill with the sling.
In 427, Gunderic and the Vandals captured the island. Roman rule was not restored until 465. Geiseric, son of Gunderic, governed Majorca, using it as his base to loot and plunder the Mediterranean.
Middle Age and Modern History
In 534, Majorca was conquered by the Byzantine Empire, led by Apollinarius, and administered as part of the province of Sardinia (see also Gymnesian Islands). Under Byzantine rule, Christianity flourished and numerous churches were built.
From 707, the island was increasingly attacked by Muslim raiders from North Africa. Recurrent invasions led the islanders to petition Charlemagne for help.
In 902, Issam al-Hawlaní (Arabic: Ø¹ØµØ§Ù… Ø§Ù„Ø®ÙˆÙ„Ø§Ù†ÙŠâ€Ž) conquered the Balearic Islands, ushering in a new period of prosperity under the Emirate of Córdoba. The town of Palma was reshaped and expanded, and became known as Medina Mayurqa. Later on, with the Caliphate of Córdoba at its height, the Moors improved agriculture with irrigation and developed local industries.
After the Caliphate was dismembered in 1015, a new, more decadent era started. Majorca came under rule by the Taifa of Dénia, and from 1087 to 1114 was an independent Taifa. During that period the island was visited by Ibn Hazm (Arabic: Ø£Ø¨Ùˆ Ù…ØÙ…Ø¯ Ø¹Ù„ÙŠ Ø¨Ù† Ø§ØÙ…Ø¯ Ø¨Ù† Ø³Ø¹ÙŠØ¯ Ø¨Ù† ØØ²Ù…â€Ž). However, in 1114, an expedition of Pisans andCatalans, led by Ramon Berenguer III, Count of Barcelona, overran the island, laying siege to Palma for eight months.
After the city fell, the invaders retreated due to problems in their own lands, and were replaced by the Almoravides from North Africa, who ruled until 1176. The Almoravides were replaced by the Almohad dynasty until 1229. Abíº Yahya was the last Moorish leader of Majorca.
In the ensuing confusion and unrest, King James I of Aragon launched an invasion which landed on Santa Ponça, Majorca, on September 8-9, 1229 with 15,000 men and 1,500 horses, entering the city of Medina Mayurqa on December 31, 1229, and annexing the island to his Crown of Aragon after a campaign which climaxed on October 30, 1230.
After the death of James I in 1276, his kingdom was divided between his two sons. James II became king of the new, and brief, Kingdom of Majorca. In 1285, Alfonso III of Aragon, son ofPeter III of Aragon, seized power and his uncle James was forced to flee the island.
The successor of Alfonso III returned the power to James II. After his death in 1311, he was succeeded by his son Sancho I of Majorca. James III, nephew of Sancho, and only nine years old, became king in 1324. However, in 1344, King Peter IV of Aragon invaded, and re-incorporated the island into the Crown. James III was forced to flee to Rosselló.
From 1479, the Crown of Aragon was in dynastic union with that of Castile. The Barbary corsairs of North Africa often attacked the Balearic Islands, and in response coastal watchtowers and fortified churches were erected. In 1570, King Philip II of Spain and his advisors were considering complete evacuation of the Balearic islands. In the early 18th century, the War of the Spanish Succession resulted in the replacement of that dynastic union with a unified Spanish monarchy. In 1716 the Nueva Planta decrees made Majorca part of the Spanish province ofBaleares, roughly the same to present-day Illes Balears province and autonomous community. In 1891 a disease destroyed Majorca’s vineyards and decimated the island’s main source of income. From 1891 to 1895 Majorca witnessed a major emigration of islanders to mainland Spain and to the Americas.
20th century and today
A Nationalist stronghold at the start of the Spanish Civil War, Majorca was subjected to an amphibious landing, on August 16, 1936, aimed at driving the Nationalists from Majorca and reclaiming the island for the Republic. Although the Republicans heavily outnumbered their opponents and managed to push 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) inland, superior Nationalist air power mainly provided by Fascist Italy forced the Republicans to retreat and to leave the island completely by September 12. Those events became known as the Battle of Majorca.
For the rest of the civil war the island was used as a base for the Nationalist navy and airforce, who mounted raids on the Spanish mainland.
Since the 1950s, the advent of mass tourism has transformed the island into a centre of attraction for foreign visitors and attracting workers from mainland Spain. The boom in tourism caused Palma to grow significantly. In 1960, Majorca received 500,000 visitors, while in 1997, it received 6,739,700. In 2008, 22,832,865 passengers passed through the Palma de Mallorca Airport with an additional 1.5 million arriving by sea.
In the 21st century, urban redevelopment, under the soâ€‘called Pla Mirall (English „Mirror Plan“), attracted groups of immigrant workers from outside the European Union, especially from Africa and South America.
The capital of Majorca, Palma, was founded as a Roman camp called Palmaria upon the remains of a Talaiotic settlement. The turbulent history of the city saw it subject to several Vandal sackings during the fall of the Roman Empire. It was later reconquered by the Byzantines, colonised by the Moors (who called itMedina Mayurqa), and finally established by James I of Aragon. In 1983, Palma became the capital of the autonomous region of the Balearic Islands.
Majorcan cartographic school
Majorca has a long history of seafaring. The Majorcan cartographic school or the „Catalan school“ refers to a collection of cartographers, cosmographers, andnavigational instrument-makers that flourished in Majorca and partly in mainland Catalonia in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. Majorcan cosmographers and cartographers developed breakthroughs in cartographic techniques, namely the „normal portolan chart“, which was fine-tuned for navigational use and the plotting by compass of navigational routes, prerequisites for the discovery of the New World.
The climate of Majorca is a Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa), with mild and stormy winters and hot, bright summers.
Climate data for Palma de Mallorca
|Average high °C (°F)||15.2
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11.7
|Average low °C (°F)||8.3
|Precipitation mm (inches)||43
|Avg. precipitation days (â‰¥ 1 mm)||5||5||4||6||4||2||1||1||4||7||6||6||52|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||165||168||204||231||280||307||342||313||228||204||165||154||2,763|
|Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología|
Majorca has two mountainous regions each about 70 km (43 mi) in length. These occupy the north-western (Serra de Tramuntana or Tramuntana range) and eastern thirds of the island. The highest peak on Majorca is Puig Major at 1,445 m (4,741 ft) in the Serra de Tramuntana. As this is a military zone, the neighbouring peak at Puig de Massanella is the highest accessible peak at 1,364 m (4,475 ft). The northeast coast comprises two bays: the Badia de Pollença and the larger Badia
d’Alcíºdia. The northern coast is rugged and has many cliffs. The central zone extending from Palma is generally flat, fertile plain known as Es Pla. The island has a variety of caves both above and below sea-level. Two of the caves above sea-level also contain underground lakes and are open to tours. Both are near the eastern coastal town of Porto Cristo, the Coves dels Hams and the Coves del Drach. It is the largest by area and second most populated island of Spain (after Tenerife in the Canary Islands). The climate is Mediterranean, with markedly higher precipitation in the Serra de Tramuntana. Summers are hot in the plains and winters mild to cool, getting colder in the Tramuntana range; in this part of the island brief episodes of snow during the winter are not unusual.
There are two small islands off the coast of Majorca: Cabrera (southeast of Palma) and Dragonera (west of Palma).
- Alfabia Mountains
- Es Cornadors
- Cap de Formentor
World Heritage Site
The Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.
The island is administratively divided into these municipalities:
Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria
The Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria (Catalan: Arxiduc Lluís Salvador) was the precursor of tourism in the Balearic Islands. He first arrived in 1867, travelling under his title of Count of Neuendorf. He later settled on Majorca, buying up wild areas of land in order to preserve and enjoy them. Nowadays, some trekking routes are named after him.
Ludwig Salvator loved the island of Majorca, learned its dialect and carried out research into its flora and fauna, history and culture to produce his main work, Die Balearen, an extremely comprehensive collection of books about the Balearic Islands, consisting of 7 volumes. It took him 22 years to complete.
Chopin in Majorca
Together with French writer George Sand, the Polish composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin resided in Valldemossa in winter of 1838-39. Apparently, Chopin’s health had already deteriorated and his doctor recommended him to go to the Balearic Islands, where he still spent a rather miserable winter. Nonetheless, the winter in Majorca is considered one of the most productive periods in Chopin’s life. He had time enough to complete a number of works: some Preludes, Op. 28; a revision of the Ballade No. 2, Op. 38; two Polonaises, Op. 40; the Scherzo No. 3, Op. 39; the Mazurka in E minor from Op. 41; and he probably revisited his Sonata No. 2, Op. 35.
Literature and painting
George Sand described her stay in Majorca in A Winter in Majorca, published in 1855. Other famous writers used Majorca as the setting for their works. While in the island, the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío started writing the novel El oro de Mallorca, and wrote several poems, such as La isla de oro. Many of the works of the acclaimed Baltasar Porcel take place in Majorca, and have been translated into several languages.
Agatha Christie also visited the island in the early 20th century and stayed in Palma and Port de Pollença. She would later write the book Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories, a collection of short stories, of which the first one takes place in Port de Pollença, starring Mr Parker Pyne.
Joan Miró had close ties to the island throughout his entire life. He settled permanently in Majorca in 1954, and he had already married Pilar Juncosa in Palma, in 1929. Nowadays, the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Majorca has an important collection of his works.
The contemporary painter Miquel Barceló was born in Majorca, and has produced a number of works there, for instance, the sculptures in the cathedral la Seu.
Writer and philosopher, logician and friar Ramon Llull, who wrote the first major work of Catalan Literature; and Junípero Serra, the Franciscan friar who founded the mission chain in Alta California are from Majorca.
In the Medieval era, Moorish historian Al-HumaydÄ« was born on the island in 1029. Others are Abraham Cresques, a 14th-century Jewish cartographer of the Majorcan cartographic school from Palma, believed to be the author of the Catalan Atlas. From the 19th century, the military commander Joaquín Jovellar y Solerand two-time Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Maura.
Basketball player Rudy Fernández and former world no. 1 tennis players Rafael Nadal and Carlos Moyá. Rafael Nadal is the nephew of former Spanish international footballer Miguel íngel Nadal. In 2006 Majorcan Jorge Lorenzo won the world 250cc Grand Prix motorcycle title and the 2010 and 2012 MotoGP World Championships.
Painters José María Sicilia and Astrid Colomar were born in Mallorca. Maria del Mar Bonet and her brother Joan Ramon Bonet are members of the group ofMallorcan language singers known as Els Setze Jutges in the 1960s. Contemporary pop group Antí²nia Font sings in the Majorcan dialect of Catalán. The island is also home to dance artist and producer DJ Sammy. Flemish painter Jean Emile Oosterlynck lived on the island from 1979 until his death in 1996.
Majorca’s own language is Mallorcan, the local variety of Catalan language. The two official languages of Majorca are Mallorcan and Spanish. The local dialect is Mallorquí, with slightly different variants in most villages. Majorcan students are obliged to become bilingual in Catalan and Spanish, with some knowledge of English. A significant number of the tourist population speaks German as a native language, so much so that in Germany, Majorca is jokingly referred to as the 17th Federal State. In 2012 the governing party announced its intention to end preferential treatment for Catalan in the schools to bring parity to the two languages of the island. It is said that this could lead Mallorquinese Catalan to become extinct in the fairly near future, as it is being used currently in a situation of diglossia in favor of Spanish language, which has been happening since, after the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs, the Catalan nobility intermarried with Castillian nobility in the late 15th century.
Since the 1950s Majorca has become a major tourist destination, and the tourism business has become the main source of revenue for the island. In 2001, the island received millions of tourists, and the boom in the tourism industry has provided significant growth in the economy of the country. More than half of the population works in the tourist sector, which accounts for approximately 80% of Majorca’s GDP. The currency currently used in Majorca is the euro.
Politics and government
The Balearic Islands, of which Majorca forms part, are one of the autonomous communities of Spain. As a whole, they are currently governed by the conservative Partido Popular, with José Ramón Bauzí as their President.
The autonomous government for the island, called Consell Insular de Mallorca (Majorca Insular Council), is responsible for culture, roads, railways (see Serveis Ferroviaris de Mallorca) and municipal administration. The current president (as of June 2011) is Maria Salom, of Partido Popular.
The Spanish Royal Family in Majorca
The members of the Spanish Royal Family spend their summer holidays in Majorca where the Marivent Palace is located. The Marivent Palace is the royal family’s summer residence. While most royal residences are administered by Patrimonio Nacional, the Marivent Palace, in Palma de Mallorca, one of many Spanish royal sites, is under the care of Government of the Balearic Islands. As a private residence it is rarely used for official business. Typically, the whole family meets there and on the Fortuna yacht, where they take part in sailing competitions. The Marivent Palace is used for some unofficial business, as when President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela visited King Juan Carlos in 2008 to mend their relationship and normalize diplomatic relations after the King famously said to him, „Why don’t you shut up?“ during the Ibero-American Summit in November 2007.
In 2005, there were over 2,400 restaurants on the island of Majorca according to the Majorcan Tourist Board, ranging from small bars to full restaurants. Despite Majorca’s location in the Mediterranean, seafood is often imported. Olives and almonds are typical of the Majorcan diet. The island has over 4 million almond and olive trees. Among the food items that are Majorcan are sobrassada, arros brut (saffron rice cooked with chicken, pork and vegetables), and the sweet pastryensaí¯mada.
The popularity of the island as a tourist destination has been steadily growing since the 1950s, with many artists and academics choosing to visit and living on the island. Visitors to Majorca continued to increase with holiday makers in the 1970s approaching 3 million a year. In 2010 over 6 million visitors came to Majorca staying at the many resorts. In 2011 the Balearic Islands as a whole reached 10.1 million tourists.
With thousands of rooms available Majorca’s economy is largely dependent on its tourism industry. Holiday makers are attracted by the large number of beaches, warm weather, and high-quality tourist amenities.
- The English writer Robert Graves lived many years in Majorca and was buried in the small churchyard on a hill at Deií .
- Former Everton footballer Duncan Ferguson resides in Majorca. Cynthia Lennon, former wife of John Lennon, also lives in Majorca.
- Michael Douglas, Boris Becker, and Claudia Schiffer, to name just a few, own villas in Majorca.
- Rafael Nadal lives in Manacor.
- Curt Flood purchased a bar in Palma, Majorca after leaving the Washington Senators in 1971.
- Palma de Mallorca Airport
- Palma de Mallorca Metro
- Majorca rail network
- Majorca bus system (TIB)