History and Culture

History and Back Ground

Mallorca is the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, covering an area of over 1,400 square miles. Its name comes from the Latin “major”.

Since the earliest times its position on the Mediterranean trade routes between Spain and the East made it an important centre visited by Phoenicians, Greeks, Muslims, Carthaginians and Romans.
The earliest signs of human habitation on Mallorca date from 4,000 – 3,000 BC and were found in what is called the Muleta Cave near Soller.

In around 1,200 BC what is known as the Talayot culture, set down their roots here in Mallorca. A well-preserved Talayot settlement called Capocord Vell near Llucmajor can be seen today as well as the remains near the town of Arta.

After the visits by Greeks and Phoenicians, who set up trading stations and small colonies in the Island, it was the turn of the Romans. The Roman invasion eventually succeeded in 123 BC and the city of Palma was founded . Unfortunately nothing at all remains of Roman Palma, however you will find ruins of a Roman Theatre in Alcudia, where there was a fair sized settlement called Pollentia. Later, Mallorca became part of the Byzantine Empire in the 6th Century and in AD 902 was invaded by the Moors who already dominated most of mainland Spain.

In 1229 Mallorca was again conquered, this time by Jaume I, King of Aragon, who repopulated it with Christians, mainly from Catalunya, thus introducing Catalan-which remains the first language of the islanders, long before the tourist boom started in the 1950’s Mallorca had its aficionados. From the end of the last century artists and writers began to settle on the island, among them the Austrian Archduke Ludwig Salvator, who wrote a nine volume study of the Balearics, the English poet and novelist Robert Graves and Frederic Chopin, who spent a winter in the village of Valldemossa.

Tourism is obviously Mallorca’s major income earner, but the island is not wholly dependent on mass tourism. The terraced farming of inland Mallorca, laid out more than 1000 years ago, still produces varied crops and the Island is one of Spain’s main shoe manufacturing areas.

Pollentia roman ruins in Alcudia

In the 6th year of our era it already figured as a city confederated to Rome. Marco Atilio Verno was its governor. In the year 426 the Vandals launched themselves into the Mediterranean and devastated the Balearic Island. The survivors of Pol.lentia, nowadays Alcudia, fled and gathered at the foot of el Calvario (see separate description), where they erected the present-day Pollensa.

The year 902 marked the beginning of the Muslim domination of the island by powerful Islam al-Hawlani. It ended in 1229 when Majorca was liberated by the Conqueror Jaime (or Jaume) the Ist. Pollensa has always been a loyal town. Remaining as testament to Pollensa’s heroic determination are the ruins of the Castell Del Rei (Castle of the King), a fort where those faithful to King Jaime III were besieged and fought when Pedro IV attempted to usurp the crown.

To the Pollensins though, the most important date is August 2, 1550 when local hero Joan Mas defeated the invading pirates sent by the Turkish admiral Dragut. Such a gesture has been celebrated since as Pollensa’s major festival. Year after year thousands of residents and visitors alike watch this mock battle in the streets between the Moors and Christians known as “Moros i Cristians”.