10 Interesting Facts About Majorca

If you’re off to this Spanish island this summer for your family holiday here are a few interesting facts about Majorca that you and the rest of your family might like to know.

  1. Majorca is the largest Spanish island and sits within the group of islands known as the Balearics. It covers nearly 4,000km² and sits about 150 miles off the East coast of Spain.
    Location map Taifa of Mallorca
  2. This accolade of being the largest island is the origins for its name, which comes from “insula maior”, a Latin phrase meaning “larger island”.  The Spanish name for the island is “Mallorca” but the English have long-favoured dropping the double “l” (proving to be too much of a tongue twister) and opted for the “j” in “Majorca”.
  3. The island has been subjected to various invasions over the years, due to its strategic location within the Mediterranean. The Romans took it over in 123 BC and other invaders include the Vandals (what a great name!), the Moors and James the Conqueror (who invaded with an impressive 1,500 horses and 15,000 men!)
  4. In 2011, Serra de Tramuntana, the spectacular mountain range which forms the backbone of the northern part of Majorca, was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status.  It’s nearly 90km long and its highest peak, Puig Major, is 1,445m.  It’s easily explored by car but also popular with hikers and cyclists.
    Serra de Tramuntana
  5. The nave of Majorca’s Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, also known as La Seu, is in the top ten highest naves in the world.  Standing at 44m, it is 6.5m taller than the nave in St. Paul’s and 11m taller than Notre Dame’s.  Work was started on the cathedral in 1229 by King James I, who got caught in a horrendous storm on his way to invade the island.  He made a promise to God that if he survived the storm and succeeded in defeating the Arabs on the island, he would build a temple dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  He did so, on the site their mosque, although it wasn’t until 1601 that work on the cathedral was completed and since then several alterations have been made.
    Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma
  6. Majorca is a very popular destination for cyclists, with a good mix of mountain roads and flat terrains to choose from and good weather.  Bradley Wiggins trained on the island before his winning Tour De France in 2012 and many cyclists have followed in his footsteps (or wheels!) to ride the unique Sa Colabra.  Also known as the Col de Cal Reis, this mountain road begins with a cycle down into the fishing village of Sa Colabra to then being the nearly 10km climb to the top, with plenty of hairpin bends along the way.  Many hotels, such as Viva Blue & Spa Aparthotel, are set up for cyclists, providing everything you need for your cycling break.
    Sa Calobra
  7. The famous English poet, Robert Graves, moved to Majorca in 1929 and lived there until his death in 1985.  His house in Deià, La Casa de Robert Graves, is now a museum and is open to the public to visit.
  8. Other famous Mallorcan residents include Chopin (who spent just a winter there to help recuperate from an illness), the tennis player Rafael Nadal and Junipero Serra, a Mallorcan missionary stated as being the founder of California!  It is also a popular place for celebrities, with Michael Douglas, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jeffrey Archer, Claudia Schiffer and Boris Becker all reportedly owning villas on the island.
  9. Mallorca is becoming an increasingly popular filming location, with the Tom Hanks film Cloud Atlas having been filmed there.  The popular BBC drama, The Night Manager, was also filmed on the island.
  10. The Mallorcan national anthem is about a spider!  Called La Balanguera, it is based on an ancient children’s song all about a spider – so although no longer technically about a spider, that’s where its origins lie.
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