The next port on our grand adventure was Palma de Majorca Spain, but before I could set about exploring Palma, I had scheduled a half-day excursion up into the Tramuntana mountains to visit the village of Valldemossa.
Valldemossa, as you would expect from it’s name, is in a valley of those mountains, and it’s history goes back before the 14th century. It was during that time that the King of Aragon, who help Majorca as part of his kingdom, built a palace in Valldemossa, mostly because of the clear mountain air, and it’s health benefits to his asthmatic son. Unfortunately for them, Majorca didn’t stay in the kingdom long, so the palace was eventually given to the Carthusian monks, who turned it into a monastery.
Alas, in 1835 the Spanish government seized property belonging to religious orders like the Carthusians, and the monks were expelled from the premises, right in the middle of building various additions to the old palace. (Thus the reason there is only one tower of the two that is finished.) One of the monks, however, was allowed to stay and continue to run the monastery’s pharmacy, as that was the only healthcare available to the village, so if you do tour the building, you will get to see the pharmacy as it looked in the 19th century. There is also a library, complete with books from the time, as well.
After it’s time as a monastery, it was sold off to a private owner and was used as lodging. Notably, Frederic Chopin stayed here in 1838-1839 while recuperating from tuberculosis, with the author George Sand. Now, as we know, George Sand was the name used by a female author of the time in order to sell her books, but apparently the people of the village didn’t like the couple much. Them staying together, unmarried, with her children from a previous divorce was scandalous enough, but what really put it over the top was her propensity to wear pants and smoke! Of course, in the name of the almighty tourist dollar, the town is more than happy to show off various pieces of Chopin memorabilia if you visit the Cartuja now, and gold an annual Chopin festival as well! (But no photos are allowed in that part of the tour.)
After our tour of the monastery, and a look into the lives of the monks during those times, we had some free time to wander the streets, and shops of Valldemossa.
It is indeed a quaint little town. I included a quick stop to try what was being sold as a local favorite, couques de potata, cookies made from potato, and lots of powdered sugar. They were pretty good, and really how can you go wrong with anything coated in powdered sugar? 😉
Finally, after boarding the bus, we took a brief detour to the other side of the mountains, to the area of Majorca known as Deia. There, we pulled into a viewpoint for So Foradada, a small peninsula with a large hole cut into the rock formation. It was my first real chance to photograph the Mediterranean Sea up against cliffs, and I was not about to miss that.
Then it was back to Palma, with the Cathedral the first on my list of things to explore, but that will be the next blog post. In the mean time, enjoy all the photos from Valldemossa over on Flickr!