Looking for places to feed your soul and incite wonder? These are Mallorca’s holiest sites.
“Focus on the powerful, euphoric, magical, synchronistic, beautiful parts of life, and the universe will keep giving them to you.” – Qiya Dau Voire
Depending on your belief system, hearing the words “sacred spots” or "religious sites" may make you cringe ever so slightly. For some, any whiff of spiritualism, any mention of religion, or any talk of magical places will make you turn tail and run. You’re a realist, living in the real world, and there’s not time for superstition and otherworldly thoughts.
Well, when you live on an island with a history as rich and ancient as Mallorca’s, the word sacred takes on a different meaning. It invokes the mysteries of prehistoric societies, the deep piety of monks, nuns and hermits from bygone eras, or the special bonds some people had with nature and the natural world.
With so much we do know about the world, sometimes it’s just fun to admit there are things we don’t…things that evoke feelings we can’t explain, outside our regular set of beliefs and outside the world we see and manifest in our daily lives.
So, come on, just dive in with us and explore some of Mallorca’s most sacred spots!
Christian Sites #
Every city, town, village and hamlet on Mallorca has its own church. Some of them have more than one. Christianity, namely Roman Catholicism, was and is the primary religion on the island, so it is not a huge surprise to hear. It is estimated that Christians first came to the shores of Mallorca as early as the 4th century and co-existed with the conquering Muslim population for centuries.
Adherents would say that all churches are sacred, and they are, but some are just that little bit more special. Mallorca has some truly remarkable Christian sacred sites. Here is a selection:
Santuari de Lluc
The name Lluc comes from lucas, which means “sacred wood”, and this place has been a pilgrimage destination for centuries and is considered the holiest spot on the island. Legend states a recently converted Moorish shepherd saw a light emanating from a cleft in a rock and found a small Black Madonna icon. He took it to a local church, but the statue, of its own accord returned to the spot where it was found. This happened a few times before the parish priest understood that the Black Madonna wanted a special place built for her in beautiful natural surroundings. The chapel was erected in 1268, and in the following centuries, a complex of buildings was raised around it as it became a centre of pilgrimage. Most famous is the "Night of the Pilgrims" where, once a year, thousands follow the call and walk the 50 kms from Palma's Placa Guell all the way up to the monastery. Read more>>
Address: Plaza Peregrins 1, 07315 Lluc / +34 971 871 525
Santuari de Sant Salvador
Proclaimed by many to be the second most revered and hallowed site on the island after Lluc, this popular pilgrim destination sits atop a mountain and is noted for having a massive 14-metre high stone cross on one side and a 35-metre high column topped by a statue of Jesus on the other. This was the last monastery on Mallorca to lose is monks, and it still retains the remnants of its former occupants. Like in all places of pilgrimage, rooms are available for visitors who wish to have extended stays.
Address: Crta. de Portocolón, s/n, 07200 Felanitx / +34 971 827 282
Santuari de Cura
Located on the Puig de Randa, considered one of Mallorca’s holiest sites, the Santuari de Cura was the place where in 1274 famed writer and ascetic Ramon Llull came to live his life of enlightened contemplation. Today, it is still a magnet for those wishing to live a monastic existence, for religious tourists, or those who simply wish to visit and enjoy the natural beauty, peaceful setting and the spectacular views.
Address: Puig de Randa, S/N, 07629 Randa / +34 971 120 260
365 steps leading up to the church, flanked by cypresses and 14 crosses representing the Calvary leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus, this beautiful spot has a special purpose come Easter time. On Good Friday, hundreds of residents and visitors meet at the top of the steps where at 21h, a procession carrying a cross with a stone effigy of Christ solemnly walks down the steps, lit only by firelight, and marches through the town to another worthwhile stop on a sacred tour, the Mare de Deu dels Angels Church. A spectacle indeed!
Address: Carrer Sense nom 324, 07460 Pollença
No list of sacred spots would be complete without including the great Cathedral in Palma. The second largest cathedral in Spain, its emplacement overlooking the sea and prime location in the city have given it the nickname, Sa Seu, or Headquarters. Its religious significance is threefold, having once been the site of a Roman acropolis, then a mosque, before becoming a church.
Address: Plaça de la Seu, s/n, 07001 Palma
Basilica Paleocristiana de Son Peretó
A true wonder, this ruin is the site of what appears to be an ancient basilica. Housing a baptistry, necropolis, and living quarters, in addition to the church, the site was clearly of importance. The alter faces east, toward Jerusalem, to honour that holy city. Dating from the 5th-7th century, it is the oldest know Christian site on the island. It is not currently open to the public to explore, though a project to allow public access is underway, but there is a view onto it where visitors can witness the excavations and marvel at the spot.
Address: Ma-15, 07500 Sant Llorenç des Cardassar
Prehistoric Sites #
The Talaiotic Culture brought forth the first known people to inhabit Mallorca starting from the Iron Age, roughly the 2nd millennium BC. They built great monuments scattered all over the island, which indicate the population lived in small villages and formed communities.
These monuments took several forms. Some were built as revered burial sites, sometimes above ground in stone, sometimes in natural caves or purpose-built subterranean chambers. Pottery and glass shards and other archaeological fragments have been found in the sites. This level of care shows that these people respected their dead, and presumably had rituals surrounding burials.
Talaiots, groupings or single stone monoliths, were also prevalent in this period, the remnants of which are found extensively on the island. These were believed to have been used in worship and as beacons for special ceremonies. There are a vast number of these sites, too many to list them all, but some are particularly noteworthy and clearly held sacred places in the hearts of the populace. They are:
Necrópolis de Son Real
Located 2km southeast of Can Picafort right on the sea in Santa Margalida is the Necròpolis de Son Real, a magnificent graveyard housing 130 graves and roughly 400 burial sites. Unique in this part of the world, the tombs are shaped like mini-navetas or talaiots and were in use from the 7th century BC. Valuable objects were often buried with the bodies, suggesting this site was one used for the elite
Address: Finca Pública de Son Real, 07450 Santa Margalida / +34 971 850 758
One of the biggest and best-preserved of the talaioic villages, Capocorb Vell has three round and two square towers, 28 dwellings, and a tumulus, or burial site and spans over half a square kilometre.
Address: Ma-6014, Km. 23, 07620 Llucmajor / +34 971 180 155
Santuari de Son Corro
This prehistoric temple is considered one the most important on the island. A local farmer stumbled into the temple by accident and in it found 3 bull’s heads made of bronze…significant as bull’s were considered holy and were worshipped in the late Bronze Age. The heads were subsequently taken to the archaeological museum in Madrid, but the site remains for all to wander in and enjoy.
Address: Carretera de Sencelles a Costitx Km 2’800, PMV-3121, Costitx
Additional Sacred Sites of Interest #
Jewish Quarter Palma
Though hardly anything remains to indicate a once thriving Jewish community, from a bird’s eye view, one can see that part of Palma's old town was fashioned into a star of David and there exists a plaque to commemorate the hundreds of Jews killed in the 17th century in Plaça Gomila in Palma. Soak up the atmosphere in this ancient part of Palma and treat yourself to a guided tour to get a full picture of Jewish life in Mallorca in a bygone era.
Secrets of Jewish Mallorca offers a two hour walking tour that will not only show you the remnants of ancient sites, but offers historical information, fun facts about fascinating Jewish former inhabitants and chances to participate in cultural events happening now.
For further information: [email protected] / +34 629 694 058
Jardines de Alfabia
Magnificent Moorish gardens once owned by a Muslim viceroy, this gorgeously designed site was declared a cultural monument in 1954. The Mudejar ceiling of the estate house is an extraordinary example of its kind and dates back to 1220. Though not technically sacred, the site was undoubtedly used for the family’s private worship, and is also a nod to the island’s Arab past.
Address: Carretera Palma Soller Km 17, 07110 Bunyola / +34 971 613 123
So, there you have it, a good jumping off point to explore some Mallorca’s most sacred, historic and holy places. Enjoy the ride!
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By Stephanie Horsman
19 August, 2019