Living on an island which doubles as a mass holiday destination makes it seem a bit unseemly for me to consider Mallorca as a holiday place for ourselves. But that’s exactly what I want to suggest today.
Have you considered the hilltop sanctuaries where one can spend a night or two, or a long weekend? Most of the monks have dispersed these days but the monasteries remain, offering accommodation in the old monastic cells.
There are some 30 plus monasteries in Mallorca, not counting the convents in Palma, and a good dozen of these rural sanctuaries offer accommodation.
There is no set rule, but some of the monasteries have a minimum stay of three nights, depending on the time of the year. Accommodation is sometimes basic, but that may be the attraction of it all. You may have to make your own bed and there may not always be a shower, but with prices ranging from 15 € to 25 € per night per person, what would you expect?
What the monasteries lack in comfort they make up for in views and in those increasingly rare qualities: solitude and peacefulness.
Not far from Llucmajor, Puig de Randa rises out of the Central Plain, its summit disfigured by some ghastly radar installations. It was here that the Mallorcan mystic Ramon Llull retired in 1275 to establish his first hermitage as a result of his mid-life crisis. Visit the Llull museum when there.
I do not suggest that you wait for your own mid-life crisis before you spend a few nights at the monastery of Nuestra Señora de Cura (540 m). March or April would be as good a time as any, perhaps with the exception of the Easter weekend. You could have your picnic on the terrace, watching the lights come on in the busy resorts around Palma, yourself all alone in another world. The accommodation is more than acceptable; the setting is very romantic (telephone 971.120.260).
Thirty minutes further East, you come to the town of Felanitx. The Santuari de Sant Salvador sits nearly as high up, at 510 m. This monastery’s origin dates back to 1348, when the primitive church dedicated to the Passió de la imatge was built. At the beginning of the 18th century the present church was built and a statue of the Lady of Sant Salvador was placed above the altar. This statue had been venerated since the end of the 15th century.
The cells of Sant Salvador have recently undergone extensive renovations and are quite comfortable now. Do not expect 5 star hotel luxuries, but solitude, peace and tranquility, as well as fabulous views. And a decent leg of lamb, Paella, or Sopas Mallorquinas, at lunch time (telephone 971.827.282).
A short distance away is Petra. The sleepy village of ochre coloured houses is much as it would have been when another Mallorcan hero, Junípero Serra, grew up here in the 18th century. His birthplace has been turned into a museum and the street leading to the house is lined with ceramic plaques depicting Serra baptising native Indians in his Californian missions, which grew into the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. On a hill above the village is the Ermita de Bonany (317 m), where Serra preached his last sermon before departing across the Atlantic. The church was built by villagers in 1609 to give thanks for a bon any (good year) of harvest after they made the pilgrimage up here during a drought to pray for rain. Another splendid monastery, offering accommodation, should the fancy take you (telephone 971.561.101).
Not far from Porreres, you will find the Santuari de Monti-Sion (250 m), where small and comfortable rooms with kitchenette and bathroom can be rented for 30 € per night, per room, solitude, peace and quiet included (telephone 971.647.185). The rooms were recently refurbished to a modern standard. The restaurant is recommended even if you do not plan on spending the night as long as you fancy Mallorcan delights, such as Sopas, Conills (rabbit) or Arròs Brut. On Sunday after Easter (Diumenge del Ángel) a Pancaritat is being celebrated in the cloisters with half the village population ascending from Porreres on foot.
Lluc monastery (550 m), in the Tramuntana mountains, is Mallorca’s holiest shrine, once a traditional honeymoon destination and a popular place of pilgrimage even for those who are not conventionally religious. Twice a day the Blavets choir performs, first for coach parties up from the coast, at 11h15 (Sundays at 11h00) and the second time at dusk for those who are spending the night.
The museum of Lluc monastery is recommended (open daily 10h00 to 17h30). And if you fancy spending a night or two, there are plenty of monks’ cells converted for accommodation. And do not miss a visit to the restaurant there. You won’t regret it, especially if you treat yourself to Cabrit (roast kid).
Lluc is hardly a solitary experience. The monastery resembles a small village, with shops, banks and restaurants and you sleep in a modern pilgrims block with en-suite bathrooms. But there are peaceful walks in the mountains and valleys (telephone 971.871.525).
I also recommend a stay of solitude at the Ermita de la Victòria (400 m), near Alcúdia. This sanctuary has a special appeal for its situation on the Peninsula de la Victòria, which gives you peace, fantastic views, excellent accommodation and really good food. The hermitage houses a wooden statue dating back to the 15th century which honours Victòria, the patron saint of Alcúdia (telephone 971.851.442).
Last but not least, there is the Santuari del Puig de Maria in Pollença, the oldest monastery of the island, abandoned in 1576, but still run as a refuge with modest comforts at a low price of 25 € for two with beds in dormitories (telephone 971.184.132).
All seven destinations are good also just for excursions, in case you are too busy for a stay of a night, or two. Enjoy.