Steve's World Blog Information and articles on cities, towns and villages around the world.

May 19, 2010

Mallorca Spain

Filed under: Balearic Islands,History,Spain — Tags: , , , , , , — needahand @ 4:00 pm

Though it may seem a world away, the beautiful island of Mallorca is easily reachable from the Costa Blanca region and well worth a visit if you have a few days to spare. A short flight from Alicante airport or a ferry ride from the resort of Denia, will see you on the holiday island in no time.

Mallorca (normally called Majorca in the UK) is the biggest of the Spanish Balearic Islands, the other main islands are Ibiza, Menorca, Formentera and Cabrera, Mallorca itself is often likened to a continent rather than a small island, due to is rich and diverse landscape, which varies from the alpine like mountains of the Serra Tramuntana and the Serra de Levant to the flat fertile plains of central Mallorca. The island is also rich in flora and fauna and its natural parks such as the wetlands of S’Albufera in northern Mallorca, provide important protection for hundreds of bird and animal species.

Mallorca was one of the pioneers in mass tourism during the 1960’s and 1970’s and many of its popular resorts became over developed, but don’t let that put you off the place, get away from the built for tourism resorts (mostly gathered on the south coast), and you will find some charming little towns and villages, which remain much as they have for hundreds of years. Though almost nowhere is Mallorca is totally untouched by tourism, and most places rely on it, in one way or another, there is plenty to see that has not been spoiled by it.

Mallorca was first inhabited in around 5000 BC and its first organised culture was known as the Talaiotic Culture which built settlements in Capocorb Vell and Artà in  1000 BC. The Talaiots left their mark in the form of great stone towers which can still be seen today (the neighbouring island of Menorca is particularly rich in these structures). The Romans conquered Mallorca in 123 BC and called it Balearis Major, they built their capital at Pollentia (Alcudia) and introduced vineyards and olives, though it remained an outpost of the Roman Empire and less important than the Spanish mainland. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Vandals arrived on Mallorca, persecuting the Christian population, though their control was relatively brief and they were ousted by the Byzantines who restored Christianity and order to the island, under Byzantine control Mallorca became a province of Sardinia.

The next major year in Mallorca’s history was 902 AD when the Moors invaded, incorporating the island into the Caliphate of Córdoba, the Arabs called it Medina Mayurqa and set to work improving the irrigation of the island with their advanced techniques, introducing new crops such as oranges and almonds.

Mallorca was re-conquered for the Christians in 1229 by King Jaime I of Aragon, his son Jaime II was later to become the 1st King of Mallorca.

Mallorca suffered numerous pirate attacks throughout the 16th to 18th centuries and a number of watchtowers were built around to coast to warn the inhabitants of these attacks.

In late 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, Mallorca was attacked by Republican troops, the attack was repulsed and the island remained in Nationalist hands throughout the war (1936-39).

Mass tourism arrived in the 1960’s with the opening of the Son Sant Joan Airport and Mallorca catered for this modern invasion by developing its southern coastline, in 1983 the Balearic Islands became an autonomous region of Spain, with Palma de Mallorca as its capital.

Mallorca Map.

December 3, 2009

Es Pujols Formentera

Filed under: Balearic Islands,Holidays,Spain — Tags: , , , , , — needahand @ 11:50 am

The only tourist resort of any real note on the island of Formentera in the Spanish Balearic Islands, Es Pujols is a pretty laid back place which is ideal for a relaxing, away from it all, holiday. Backed by a beautiful white, sandy beach, the seafront promenade of Es Pujols is dotted with restaurants and bars, though not to the extent that you would expect from a Balearic Islands resort, nightlife is equally low key with plenty to keep the less demanding tourist happy without disturbing those who prefer a quieter time whilst on holiday. Formentera is still a charmingly undiscovered holiday destination (relatively!), no doubt assisted by the fact that it does not yet have an airport. Arrivals are by way of a ferry from Ibiza (or Denia on the mainland) and this in itself is a unique holiday experience. If you need to get around the island then securing a Formentera car hire vehicle will be a must for those seeking anything more than a relaxing beach holiday. Those hiring a car be have the freedom to tour around and see what the island has to offer, you could head into the capital Sant Francesc or head along the coast and visit some of the ancient watchtowers which were constructed to warn of pirate attacks many centuries ago. Whatever you are looking for, you will find Es Pujols and Formentera Island well worth a visit for a somewhat different holiday experience, the weather is similar to that of Ibiza, being pretty reliable during the summer months (May to October) and pleasant though less reliable through the winter.

September 6, 2009

Formentera Balearic Islands

Filed under: Balearic Islands,Spain,Travel — Tags: , , , , , — needahand @ 1:43 pm

Smallest of the main Balearic Islands, with a resident population of less than 5,000, Formentera is also the quietest and least spoilt of the islands. With an area of only 82km2, this is a tiny island, its big brother, Ibiza is only 4 kilometres to the north and its lack of an airport is no doubt the reason for its unspoilt nature. Formentera is being discovered by more and more people each year and at the moment is mostly chosen by those wanting to escape the overcrowded destinations such as Ibiza and Mallorca. Part of the Pitiusas group of islands along with Ibiza and a number of islets, Formentera was discovered by the Greeks, occupied by the Romans and later by the Moors, and fortified by the Christians after the reconquest. The main attractions apart from the tranquillity are the splendid beaches and the crystal clear water, Formentera has some of the best beaches in the Balearics and also the least crowded, at times you would think you were on an isolated tropical island. The lack of an airport means you will have to arrive by ferry, your landing point will be La Savina and you will most probably be coming from Ibiza Town or Denia on the Spanish mainland. The climate is much the same as Ibiza, a temperate Mediterranean one, with Formentera weather being suitable for holidays throughout the year. While the traditional beach holiday is popular and emerging resorts such as Es Pujols are growing, walking and cycling holidays are also desirable as is scuba diving. To see the main architectural heritage of the island you may want to head for the capital Sant Francesc where you will find a fortified 18th century church and the interesting Ethnological Museum with a variety of tools and implements on show. If you fancy a holiday with a difference why not try the peaceful island of Formentera. Formentera Map.

August 19, 2009

Overview – Balearic Islands

Filed under: Balearic Islands,Spain,Travel — Tags: , , , , , — needahand @ 1:43 pm

A popular holiday destination in the Mediterranean Sea, the Spanish Balearic Islands have something to offer visitors of all tastes. The four main islands of the group are Mallorca (Majorca), Ibiza, Menorca (Minorca) and Formentera, the largest of the group is Mallorca. People have been living on the Balearic Islands since about 5,000 BC, possibly coming originally from mainland Spain, although the islands history are shrouded in myth and legend, some going back to the times of the ancient Greeks. Modern day visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the club scene of lively Ibiza, the family resorts of Mallorca, the quiet of Menorca and the charm of unspoilt Formentera.

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