Mallorca is the capital and largest of the Balearic Islands, an autonomous region of Spain. The island has an area of just under 1,500 square miles. It lies in the Mediterranean Sea off the east coast of Spain. During a visit in October 2019, I toured some of the sights on the southwest coast and central plain.
Port D’Andratx – The “St. Tropez of Spain”
The first stop of the tour was the resort village of Port D’Andratx. The port is situated three miles south of the town of Andratx and about 30 miles west of Palma. The harbor is described as one of the most picturesque in the Mediterranean.
Port D’Andratx has a stylish yacht club where boats of various sizes can be rented or berthed. The village began as a fishing port. In the 20th century shops, cafes and bars sprang up around the harbor to cater to tourists and vacationers who built homes in the surrounding hills. Villas here are priced from about 2 million euros and up, emphasis on and up.
Along with a healthy tourist industry, Port D’Andratx remains a working fishing port. If you arrive in the morning, you may see fishermen repairing their nets on the docks. Fresh seafood of course is a mainstay of the restaurants and cafes.
Shopping ranges from eclectic back-street shops to seaside high-end establishments selling designer clothing and jewelry. Excursions depart from Sant Elm to the nature reserve on Sa Dragonera Island just off the coast.
From Port D’Andratx the tour headed up the coast toward Banyalbufar. The coast here, as on most of the island, is very rugged with mountains meeting the sea and little or no beach.
The coast of Mallorca is guarded by about 50 watch towers that were constructed in the 1500s. At that time pirates from North Africa and the Ottoman Empire were very active in the Mediterranean.
We stopped at one of the more well preserved examples, Torre del Verger.
This torre (tower) was built in 1579. Local civilians manned the towers. When guards spotted what they thought was a pirate ship, they lit a fire and raised a flag. Other towers saw the warning and relayed the alarm until it reached a major urban area which would then prepare the island defenses.
This location also provides an up-close look at olive trees. Being from North America, I had little knowledge of olive trees. It turns out they live as long as 1,500 years.
The small town of Banyalbufar is located nearby. Roughly translated from arabic, the name means “founded by the sea.” The town is a good example of the terraces constructed during Mallorca’s Moorish period.
To convert the arid land and steep slopes to agriculture, Moors terraced the slopes and built irrigation systems with reservoirs and cisterns. The terraces remind me of the system the Inka built around Machu Picchu to turn steep mountainsides into tillable land.
From here the tour continued into the central part of the island and then back to the the coast for a short boat ride and train ride. That will be covered in the next posts.