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Mallorca: Beyond the Mega Resorts
Plagued by a reputation for sun, sex and booze style resort package holidays, Mallorca has struggled to fight off impressions forged after the over-development of the 1960s. Mallorca is often unfairly maligned but really it is a diverse island with much to offer. The spread of development is in fact fairly contained and now, after more than fifty years, has remained confined to certain areas. The Bay of Palma is very built up, along a stretch of around 30km of coastline crowding round the island's capital. There are few mega-resorts scattered along the East Coast. Other than those areas, the island is very different and has far more to offer than you might expect.
Palma itself, in spite of its outstretched arms of over-development, is a surprisingly historical town. Visit the Castell de Bellver, whose unique circular shape and prominent location make it an extremely recognisable sight. The views from the castle are stunning. Many more historical buildings are to be found in the old town, whose pleasant, shady streets are a lovely place to stroll on a hot day. There is the Cathedral, which also houses a collection of paintings and silverware, a 10th century Arab baths, and a number of fine art nouveau buildings as well as a historic church in Plaça del Mercat. Also in Palma, a museum of contemporary art houses works by Picasso and Joan Miro amongst others. Another museum deals with Spanish architecture.
The north is where the most rugged and picturesque parts of the island are to be found, from the dramatic peaks of the Serra de Tramuntana, to the lovely cove beaches. There are a number of quaint, historic villages, hiking trails galore, and some fascinating old monasteries. Two of the best examples of these monasteries are found at Valldemossa and Lluc. Amongst the most appealing of the towns and villages in this region are Deià, Pollença and Sóller, all of which have unique histories, including tales of famous artists and writers of all types who were drawn to them during the 19th and 20th Centuries. They are still popular with artistic types today and looking out over the surrounding mountains it is easy to see why.
While in the north you should be sure to take the winding road to Sa Calobra, and take in the breathtaking views of the canyon, Torrent de Pareis, a nature reserve. Hiking is the best way to see this canyon although there is sometimes water in the canyon that will impede your progress, so be sure to check ahead before starting your walk. The wildlife here is amazing, with several rare species of plant and animal that live only on this island. Further north, head to the end of the Cap Formentor for amazing craggy cliff views and a winding road that leads to the lighthouse. If you are interested in nature, then another very interesting place to visit is the S'Abulfera salt marshes where large numbers of birds can be seen. Then of course there are the many, many glorious beaches and you can easy find one that is quiet and uncrowded.
So don't dismiss Mallorca – it is much more than its mega-resorts.
3,640.11 km2 (1,405.45 sq mi)
1,445 m (4,741 ft)
Palma (pop. 404,681)
869,067 (as of 1 January 2010)
238.75 /km2 (618.36 /sq mi)
Location in the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands
Mallorca from space
Have you visited Mallorca?
Castell de Bellver
Why did you visit Mallorca
10th century Arab baths
Serra de Tramuntana
Have you visited Valldemossa?
Take the winding road to Sa Calobra, and take in the breathtaking views of the canyon
Would you take the winding road to Sa Calobra
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