Mallorca

Interesting article about the island of Mallorca, one of the Spanish Balearics.

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Mallorca – The Artistic Heritage - Armandine Dupin-Dudevant was the real name of the French writer George Sands. She described Mallorca as the most beautiful place she had ever lived. In 1838, she set off from Paris with her two children and her lover, Frederic Chopin, who at this time was suffering from Tuberculosis. The group travelled via Barcelona and Palma to settle in the monastery of Valldemossa.

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During the winter of 1838-1839 they lived as a family within the village. The inhabitants of Valldemossa were openly hostile to the unmarried couple, became increasingly wary of Chopin’s mysterious illness and resented the way that George Sands would stroll through the village wearing men’s trousers and smoking cigars. Even though today the local people are making a fortune out of the couple’s stay, at the time the village never accepted them.

During two very wet and windy winter months, George Sands wrote and had published her book ‘A Winter in Mallorca’ and on an old village piano Chopin composed his ‘Raindrop Prelude’. Visitors to the monastery can listen to Chopin piano concerts every day in the music room ‘Palace of King Sancho’.

Marti of Aragon founded the monastery in Valldemossa in 1399. In 1835 it was dissolved and the monks were expelled. The monastery cells consist of three rooms, each with its own section of garden. It was here in cells two and four that Chopin and George Sands lived and worked. Chopin died ten years after leaving the island.

Mallorca has many crafts and a number of the towns were originally Moorish settlements. These crafts include cultured pearls made in Manacor, leather goods manufactured in Inca and the ancient skill of glass blowing. There is a glass museum and factory near Algaida. Sinrells, which are small baked clay figurines, based on Phoenician and Carthaginian origin, are typically Mallorcan.

The windmills of Mallorca (Majorca) are remnants of a time when water had to be drawn by wind-powered pumps from subterranean acquifers in order to keep the land irrigated. Many windmills have been restored, and are now unofficial national monuments, standing on the flat landscape, as wonders of medieval engineering.

Palma de Mallorca is the island’s capital; its name comes from the Roman name Palmaria (which means victory palm). The Gothic cathedral towers above the city, standing on the ancient city walls. Its foundation stone was laid in 1230 but it wasn’t completed until 1604. This wonderful cathedral was built by Jaume 1 and is known as the building of light. The extraordinary, but unfinished baldachin is the work of Anton Gaudi (1852-1926), the creator of Barcelona’s ‘Sagrada Familia.’

Mallorca is a very beautiful island and is well worth a visit.

(Article provided by kind permission of The Leader Newspaper.)

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