Traditional Mallorca & Rural Mallorca Enhances Life in Mallorca Today.
First of all, the appeal of life in Mallorca is unique unto itself. Probably one of the most visible is the landscape of rural Mallorca. Structures, frozen in a yester year and a landscape unpolluted by modernity’s. The romance you see around you are the footprints left by the ancestors of the island. Whether living in a traditional Finca, a modern villa or even a townhouse, traditional Mallorca surrounds you.
Almost three quarters of the island is still used for farming however, the islands economy is no longer reliant on that. This is due to the influx of luxury tourism. As a result, continued investment in the yachting sector attracts wealthy investors. Therefore, there is also the attraction to own a piece of paradise. Consequently, there are renovations of many traditional buildings. Also, investors carefully blend stunning contemporary villas in to the surrounding landscape.
Only a few decades ago, people’s prosperity or poverty depended on whether:
- It rained
- Fishermen returned home safely with his catch
- Cows bore calves
- The donkey would last another year working the well. In addition to transporting heavy yokes and baskets with the harvest.
- Chickens laid eggs
- Goats had enough milk and the sheep enough wool.
These farm animals still fill the Mallorcan air with their ingredients. That is from the hot plateaus of the Migjorn to the fertile heart of the Island, the Pla and Raiguer. Furthermore, that goes right up to the Serra de Llevant and the mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana.
While Mallorca is now divided into specific municipalities, the traditional partitions still exist. These divide the land into districts or comarques. These were probably introduced by the Moors. Geographical names are identify the Comarques, not political names. They got their names from the points of the compass and / or direction of the wind, such as:
- Ponent (“lying down”) for the West
- Llevant (“rising”) for the East
- Migjorn (“midi” or “South”) for the South
- Tramuntana (“over the mountains”) to stand for the cold North wind.
There are also names which denote topographical features such as pla for “plain”. The only nomenclature which can no slot into one of these categories is that of the land bordering on the Tramuntana and the Pla, the Raiguer
A Network of Stones and Crosses
The Comarques may vary greatly in their natural makeup, yet there are a few man-made features common to them all. Among these are the thousands of wayside crosses, which stand at the points where the fields, tracks and country roads intersect. Whether made of wrought iron, chiselled in stone or carved in wood and decorated with pictorial tiles, they have both a geographical function, that of marking our district, field and farm boundaries and a religious one. That is because they symbolise hope that God will protect and bless the land and invite passers-by to pause a moment in reflection on their selves and the World.
Many of these wayside crosses are not found as solitary shrines punctuating the landscape but are instead flanked by marges, dry stone walls. Layers of stones expertly arranged without any adhesive substance holding them together lattice the island. These robust structures turn troublesome, undressed boulders into protective walls which shelter young crops and the harvest from the wind and any hungry trespassers. The most skilfully built of the marges line terraced fields with made-to-measure stone embankments and fashion domestic walls of a beauty as solid as it is elegant, thanks to the golden hue of the local Mares stone, which is used to decorate both palaces and simple farmhouses.
Solid walls of stone were for centuries the only protection the islanders had from marauding pirates. They enclosed towns such as Alcudia and Santanyi, formed a ring of 85 watchtowers or talayots which from the 16th Century on began appearing around the island, or deterred would-be assailants at might fortresses, such as in Arta and Capdepera
Whether living in a Traditional Finca or a Modern Villa
In conclusion, the landscape of the island is still latticed by farmland designed and constructed 700 years ago. Furthermore, partitions dividing the land up into districts still exist today. Stones and crosses mark where these intersect and stone walling often flanks them. These walls use a local skill of using the weights and shapes of individual boulders to bond them together in to a robust structure without the aid of any adhesive. The golden stone used is the same used for simple farmhouses and for palaces. Whether living in a Traditional Finca, Villa or a modern Villa this structural landscape sculpted 700 years ago surrounds you.