The travel guide “111 Places in Mallorca That You Shouldn’t Miss” is a must-have if you want to discover Mallorca’s unknown gems, away from the tourist hordes. Here are tips for everything from nature and cultural experiences to small local shops and fincas.
“Mallorca is much more than sun, beach and pig parties”, says the foreword to the travel guide 111 Must-See Places in Mallorca, which has just been published in English translation.
Mallorca has enjoyed a revival in recent years and has become a very hip holiday destination, but many people know only a few of the Balearic island’s cultural attractions, and these are the places that 111 Places in Mallorca will open our eyes to. Venture away from the most popular tourist areas – or just down a side street – and you’ll find plenty of interesting stories about the island, its people and culture.
111 Places is an alternative travel guide series that focuses on the overlooked and hidden gems you won’t find in other travel guides or on a Google search. The series includes guidebooks to major cities around the world, and I have already enjoyed the Barcelona guide.
In 111 Places in Mallorca we guide you around the island to everything from tourist-free nature experiences, religious buildings and symbols, a wealth of art experiences and a few selected shopping opportunities. The guide is written by German journalist Rüdiger Liedtke, who often stays on the island.
Majorca’s unknown nature experiences and lush plantations
If you want a nature experience away from customised beaches and concrete hotels, Liedtke recommends visiting Canal Gran in the protected natural park, Parc Natural s’Albufera. The 2.5 km long artificial canal is beautiful and secluded.
Another interesting tip for Mallorca’s secret places, which is on my list next time I go to Mallorca, is the prison island, Cabrera, near the southern tip of the island. In addition to being a piece of unspoiled nature, the island also has a grim history. During the War of Independence (1808-14), the Spanish transported 9,000 French prisoners to the island, leaving them to live in the former fort in squalid conditions. The place was very tellingly called “Hell at Cabrera”.
Among many other things, you’ll also find tips for a different kind of beach life at the Puig de Ros quarry, nature’s rock art and Mallorca’s Table Mountain at Felanitx. You can also visit the apothecary’s fig farm, Son Mut Nou, with 3000 fig trees and 1000 varieties. Here you can take a tour of the orchard and hear about the pharmacist’s research into figs. Ses Salines is home to Toni Moreno’s cactus farm with 500 different species of cactus, and you can also buy one of the prickly plants to take home.
Overlooked churches, monasteries and religious symbols
“For the Mallorcans, the many mountains and hills that rise above the flat land are a symbol of God’s presence with their churches and monasteries … The island lives in a tension between the earthly and the heavenly, between the sinful and the fervent believer,” writes Liedtke. As proof of this statement, the author generously shares religious sights that few people, other than Mallorcans, knew existed.
Visit, for example, the Cura monastery, where an avant-garde polished stainless steel choir tree stands in the courtyard, the unfinished church of Son Servera. You can also admire a rare Madonna figure from 1528, in the church of Sant Crist in the village of S’Arracó, which, after being hidden from view for many years, is now on public display in its glass vault. In Son Servera you’ll find an unfinished church with no roof and glass in the windows, which hosts cultural events and is considered by many to be a work of architectural art. By the way, did you know that you can admire Palma’s view from the roof of the city’s famous cathedral?
If you’re feeling peckish, drop by the Santa Clara monastery in Palma, hidden off the road and whose nuns never mix with the public. Here you can ring a bell at a hatch and buy the nuns’ homemade ice cream and cakes, without even getting the chance to say hello to one of them.
Lots of Mallorca tips for the art lover
Libraries, a charming bookshop, Chopin’s real piano (tourists have admired the wrong one until 2011), sculptures and art museums – not least Denmark’s Jacob and Patricia Asbæk’s amazing CCA cultural centre in Andratx, which wasn’t such a secret to me. I love visiting the place, which serves as both a gallery for local and international artists and a refuge for artists.
In an old water reservoir in Alcúdia is the Sa Bassa Blanca art museum, also called the White Lagoon for its Egyptian-inspired architecture. Inside you can see a series of portraits of noble children from the 1500-1800s and a Swarovski chandelier with 1000 sparkling crystals.
A different – and interesting – cultural tip is the Jardin de las Mujeres (Women’s Garden) in Artá. Two German women have created a sculpture and art garden on their old finca. Here you can delve into the powerful stories of Mallorcan women, including writers and singers, and women connected to the island, including. George Sand.
My favourite art experiences also include a metal sculpture of a donkey in the village of Estellencs, a tribute to the importance of the transport animal, the Grafitti village in Can Picafort, the tomb of English writer Robert Graves in Deià (he is best known for the novel I, Claudius) and the small Jazz Voyeur Club in Palma.
Take the guidebook with you on your next trip to Mallorca
Rüdiger Liedtke writes captivatingly about Mallorca’s hidden places, and for each of the book’s 111 locations, he also tells the story of each place. So not only do you get a guidebook to different places, you also get much closer to the island’s history, culture and people. The story of each place is accompanied by a photo, there are driving directions and at the back of the book you will find maps with the 111 places.
If, like me, you love to get off the beaten tourist track, I’d recommend getting your hands on 111 places in Mallorca. It’s definitely going in my suitcase.
In addition to Mallorca and Barcelona, there are also 111 Places in Gran Canaria translated into English. I look forward to more books in the series to Spanish cities and islands.