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Mallorca's History

Mallorca's Early and Recent History

Mallorca's early inhabitants were people who lived from the sea. The first place used as settlements, dating back to 4000 BC, were the large number of natural caves, which can be found around the Mallorcan coastline. Later, other groups of settlers arrived and went to live inland in dwellings made of massive stones known as "Talaiots", of which more than a thousand have been recorded.

Far back in the past, people from Central Asia began to emigrate towards the west, reaching as far as their ships would allow them. Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians succeeded one another, taking over the Mediterranean until the year 123 BC when the Romans arrived under the command of Quinto Cecilio Metelo and founded colonies on the island. The most important cities that they founded were Pollentia in the north and Palma in the south and today, we can still marvel at the remains of their civilization.

Not only was the island visited by people from the East, but also from the North of Africa. From the 10th to the 13th century, when the Christians conquered Mallorca, the Moors and Arabs dominated the island. We can still see part of their legacy in the dry stonewalls which form hillside terraces, the irrigation tanks, wells and irrigation channels needed for agriculture.

In 1229, King Jaime I of Aragon and Catalonia marched into Medina Mayurqa, breaching the defences of the Moorish army who were forced to flee or join the new settlers. Shortly afterwards construction began on the Cathedral which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary by express wish of the King.

His son, Jaime II King of Mallorca, ordered palaces and mansions to be built all over. He had Bellver Castle built, and castles built at Sineu and Valldemossa. This was the kingdom's golden age, but unfortunately it was short-lived.

The king's nephew, Jaime III, died at the Battle of Lluchmajor, and the beautiful kingdom in the middle of the sea lost its independence. With Spain's unity under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs, Mallorca came to form part of the Kingdom of Spain, and followed its ups and downs from a distance throughout history until the present day. Only with the establishment of democracy, did the Balearic Island once again become an autonomous region. From 1983, with the signing of the Statute of Autonomy, the islands had their own autonomic government and each island was granted its own local administrative body.

Mallorca, History of Tourism on the Island

Palma Cathedral

Mallorca´s marvels and natural charms first began to be discovered during the middle of the last century with the arrival of eccentrics and European academics. Archduke Louis Salvador of Austria, J.B. Laurense, Chopin and Georges Sands, Rubén Darío, Robert Graves, Joan Miró and a large number of famous artists came to know the island and many lived and died here.

Even so, in 1950 visitors to Mallorca totalled only 98.000 people. Whereas in 1975 a figure of almost 3 million tourists was reached. At present the figure has spiralled, and about Six million tourists come to the island every year. To accommodate for such large numbers of people Mallorca has a wide range of accommodation including comfortable modern hotels of different categories and prices, guest houses, hostels, bed and breakfast, camp sites and even accommodation in monasteries.

In total there are some 3 million beds available on Mallorca. The majority of hotels and apartments are situated nearby the island's more than one hundred beaches, and have been designed with the tourist's enjoyment in mind. More recently, the old houses of the island's inland towns and villages have been restored to offer alternative accommodation. Over sixty rural houses, set in the midst of the splendid, yet peaceful Mallorcan countryside are now available to hire on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

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