Serra de Tramuntana. The mountainous region has been a Natural Park since 2007 and earned the park accreditation as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2011.
The island of Mallorca sits near the coast of the Iberian Peninsula in the western Mediterranean Sea. Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands and its name conjures images of large-scale beach tourism that attracts multi-national visitors. Measuring in at 2,237 square miles (3,600 km2), the island takes its name from the Latin Maiorica (meaning “the biggest island”). It is also Spain’s second most populated island after Tenerife (one of the Canary Islands).
Mallorca’s most famous features include its stunning beaches, the central flatlands known as the Pla, and most of all the Serra de Tramuntana, a mountainous region that covers the entire northwestern region of the island. This mountain range has several peaks that tower over 3,000 feet into the sky, such as Puig Major, and it has impressive caves like the Cova de sa Campana, with a depth of 1,000 feet. These abrupt mountainsides stud this side of the island’s coastline and conceal cozy coves and beautiful beaches that rest in peaceful contrast to Mallorca’s other beaches.
The capital of this region is the city of Sóller, strategically located in the center of this mountainous area. The city has stunning beaches and a busy port where charming trolley cars have remained in operation for the last 100 years.
It is not surprising that this part of the island was the origin of tourism on Mallorca, even before Coco Chanel popularized the beach tan. Robert Graves lived in Deiá from 1929 until the end of his days (his tomb overlooks the sea from the cemetery of the town church and his house has been turned into a museum). The writer Anaïs Nin, more than just a friend of Henry Miller, also spent extended periods in Deiá. Frédéric Chopin and George Sand spent a romantic period here captured in Sand’s book A Winter in Majorca.
The Serra de Tramuntana houses a number of reservoirs which receive water from the ravines and the summits to be reused for irrigating large cultivated inland fields. These mountains offer hikers attractive trails to explore such as the Ruta de la Piedra en Seco, a long 100 mile trek that is perfectly signposted and gives hikers a glimpse at masterfully constructed terraces, irrigation canals and structures designed for agriculture that were built without the use of cement or mortar (from which the trail takes its name).
For those less interested in hiking, there is also a route of defense towers worth visiting that date back to the 15th century. These towers abound in the low hills of the coast, where they were first built for monitoring the shoreline in a time of pirate attacks. Today these structures have become exceptional viewpoints from which to behold the scenic coastal and mountain landscapes.
Mallorca’s isolated location and the geography of the Serra de Tramuntana region, which could be described as an island within an island, has helped preserve an attractive array of endemic flower and fauna, including local varieties of oak, wild olive, and pine trees. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself observed by birds of breeds such as the once endangered sea eagle or black vulture, responsible for cleaning the mountain carrion.
The Serra de Tramuntana has been a Natural Park since 2007 and its maintenance, promotion, conservation and uniqueness all helped earn the park accreditation as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2011.
Mallorca clearly offers visitors much more than beaches and partying in the sun. It also offers peaceful places full of natural beauty, especially in this privileged northeastern corner known as Serra de Tramuntana.