Looking for interesting and unusual facts about Mallorca?
Get ready to explore the incredible and surprising side of Mallorca! Beyond its beautiful beaches, there are also 37 unusual facts waiting to be discovered. From hidden treasures to cool traditions, we’ll dive into the unique stories that make Mallorca special. Join me on a fun journey to learn all about this amazing island and its fascinating secrets.
I am lucky enough to live near an airport with direct flights to Mallorca, so I have taken full advantage of this and visited the island many times. My most recent visit was in Spring 2022.
37 unusual facts about Mallorca.
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1. There is a reason the seas are so clear.
The Mediterranean is known for its clear turquoise waters, but many people are amazed when they see the crystal clear waters around Mallorca. This phenomenon is due to underwater meadows of an algae called Posidonia oceanica an algae. The cynical posidonia oxygenates and clarifies the water from the seabed upwards, so you can always see right down to the bottom.
These seagrass meadows, often referred to as the “lungs of the Mediterranean,” contribute to the pristine marine ecosystem by oxygenating the water and providing a haven for various marine species.
2. An English poet’s resting place.
An English Fact about Mallorca: renowned English writer and poet Robert Graves lived in the Mallorcan town of Deià from 1929 until his death in 1985. His body is buried under the giant cypress tree in the churchyard, and his former residence has been adapted and is now open to the public.
3. The birthplace of Rafa Nadal.
Tennis star Rafa Nadal was born in Manacor, and was trained on the island by his Uncle and family. In 2016 he opened the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy in his hometown to allow young Mallorcans to pursue the sport whilst still completing their school studies.
There is also a series called Rafa Nadal Academy on Amazon Prime. If you want to check this out, I have included free trial links for Amazon Prime, Kindle, Audible and Prime Video at the bottom of this post. You could actually watch all the Rafa Nadal content for free, if you could manage it in 30 days!
4. Es Trenc beach is losing its sand.
Of the 262 beaches in Mallorca, Es Trenc beach is often thought of as the most beautiful beach on the island. Es Trenc beach receives over 500,000 visitors every year, and this leads to around 25 tonnes of sand being taken back home (intentionally or unintentionally) with tourists each year.
5. One of the world’s largest underground lakes.
Cuevas del Drach is a subterranean cave system near Porto Cristo which was first discovered around 1338. The cave system is full of enormous stalactites and stalagmites, and contains one the the largest underground lakes in the world. Lake Martel is 115 metres long, and it is possible to take a boat trip across the lake for a truly magical experience.
6. Voted the ‘world’s best place to live’ by The Times in 2015.
IIn 2015, the town of Palma de Mallorca earned the prestigious title of “The World’s Best Place to Live” according to esteemed British newspaper The Sunday Times.
7. A Mallorcan cover illustration.
The Spanish edition of ‘A World Without End’ by British writer Ken Follett, depicts the beautiful old church of Sant Bartomeu in Sóller. This book was also televised in a mini-series in Britain in 2013.
Also on cover illustrations: the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, graced the cover of National Geographic Traveller’s “The 21 Best Beaches in the World” issue. This recognition highlights the diverse natural beauty of Mallorca, from its captivating coastline to its rugged peaks.
8. The third oldest functioning lighthouse in the world.
Porto Pí lighthouse is the 2nd oldest functioning lighthouse in Spain, and the third oldest functioning lighthouse in the world. To put that into context, there are over 19,000 documented lighthouses in the world. The lighthouse dates back to the year 1300 and can be seen today standing proud in Palma Harbour.
9. The largest Gothic rosette in the world.
Palma Cathedral, also known as La Seu, boasts a remarkable architectural feature – the largest Gothic rosette in the world. This stunning stained glass masterpiece, known as “the eye of Gothic style,” bathes the cathedral’s interior in a kaleidoscope of colours, adding to the cathedral’s grandeur.
The large rosette-shaped glass window of Palma Cathedral measures 13.8 metres in diameter. It contains 24 equilateral triangles and 1,236 pieces of glass, making it the largest Gothic Rosette in the world. It is also a functioning sundial which tells both the time and the season.
10. Palma Cathedral points towards Mecca (not Jerusalem).
The famous cathedral of Palma, or ‘La Seu’ was actually built on the site of an old Moorish mosque. This means anyone kneeling at its altar is facing Mecca rather than Jerusalem.
Despite the traditional practice of churches aligning towards Jerusalem, Palma Cathedral actually faces Mecca, a symbolic connection that reflects the island’s historical interactions with the Islamic world.
11. One of Europe’s last standing circular castles.
Mallorca boasts the circular Bellver Castle, a rarity in European castle architecture. With its unique design and panoramic views of Palma and the Mediterranean, Bellver Castle was built in the 14th century. It still stands today and is surrounded by beautiful pine forest just outside the City of Palma. It is well worth a visit, with some of the best views over the island of Mallorca.
12. Two local dishes awarded the coveted PGI status.
A foodie fact about Mallorca: Two local culinary dishes have been awarded the prestigious protected geographical indication (PGI) status from the EU. These are the spicy sausage sobrasada, and sweet pastry ensaimada. These cannot be made or bought anywhere outside of the island of Mallorca, so best stock up next time you visit. You can read more in my Mallorca Food Guide.
13. Possibly the earliest sweet pastries in Europe.
Mallorca’s culinary heritage takes a sweet turn with “Ensaimadas,” spiral-shaped pastries that may be some of Europe’s earliest sweet treats. The first known written reference to these pastries was dated early 17th century, when flour was used only for making bread. These early recipes are one of the first known examples of flour being used to make sweet delicacies in Europe.
14. Gaudi’s work can be seen in Mallorca.
The celebrated Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi is most famous for his works located in the city of Barcelona, but many people are not aware that the great artist also created the iron canopy over the main altar in Palma Cathedral. This was the only time Gaudi left Barcelona, and he completed this work in stages.
In the first decade of the 1900s, Gaudi worked on the restoration of Palma Cathedral simultaneously alongside several Barcelona projects. See 20 Essential Things to do in Barcelona for more examples of Gaudi’s work.
Gaudí’s influence can also be found at the historic Gran Hotel, designed by Gaudí’s disciple Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
15. National anthem written about a spider.
Mallorca’s cultural heritage takes an unexpected twist with its national anthem. “La Balanguera,” penned by poet Joan Alcover. The song is believed to be inspired by a spider he saw weaving its web, serving as a metaphor for the unity of the Mallorcan people.
16. A beautiful World Heritage Site.
The Serra de Tramuntana mountain range in northwest Mallorca was awarded World Heritage Site status in 2011, and it is easy to see why. This area comprises 90 km of stunning scenery, wonderfully preserved towns, soaring peaks and crystal clear lakes. Not to mention the thrilling mountain roads! You can read more in my Mallorcan Towns and Cities post.
17. The best lamb Rick Stein has ever eaten.
Renowned British TV chef Rick Stein once declared Mallorcan lamb to be the best he had ever tasted, after visiting a restaurant called Es Verger (near Alaró) in 2012. The restaurant is now extremely busy because of this statement – and is also very difficult to get to – so plan your journey well in advance.
Raised on the island’s rugged terrain, the lamb’s unique diet and free-range lifestyle contribute to its exceptional flavour and tenderness.
18. The largest private swimming pool in the Balearics.
Love it or hate it, the popular British TV show Love Island has inadvertently elevated the Mallorcan luxury property market, featuring several stunning Mallorcan holiday villas throughout the series. The huge villa from seasons 1 and 2 is situated near the village of Ses Salines, and boasts the largest private swimming pool in the Balearic Islands. The pool was designed to look like the shoreline, and was modelled to be an exact replica of the owner’s main villa in France.
19. The amazing honey buzzard migration.
Did you know? Mallorca becomes an important haven for Honey Buzzards during their biannual migration from Europe to Africa. These majestic birds use the island as a resting point on their journey. Enthusiasts of nature and birdwatching come together to witness this remarkable phenomenon, as the sky above Mallorca becomes a captivating display of these stunning avian creatures.
20. A rediscovered species of toad.
The Mallorcan Midwife Toad was discovered in 1977 in a fossilised form and thought to be extinct, only to be proved wrong by actual live toads in 1979. This protected species only lives in the Tramuntana mountain range and has evolved to have a flat body, allowing it to squeeze through cracks in the mountain rocks. There are thought to be only 500 breeding pairs in existence.
21. Chopin’s creative retreat: Valldemossa.
Valldemossa, a charming village, holds a fascinating piece of history – it was once the home of the renowned composer Chopin and his partner George Sand. Their time spent here left an enduring impact, inspiring Chopin’s musical compositions and forever linking Valldemossa’s allure to their artistic journey.
22. Ancient circular settlements: the Talayotic culture.
Mallorca unveils a captivating chapter of its past through the enigmatic talayotic settlements – circular stone structures from a distant era. Known as talaiots, these architectural marvels served diverse functions, offering insight into both the defensive and ceremonial aspects of Mallorca’s ancient civilizations.
23. Wind-powered water systems: the “Safareig”
Witness a remarkable display of historical ingenuity as Mallorca’s traditional water system, known as “safareig,” harnessed wind power to channel water into communal reservoirs. These innovative structures facilitated the efficient distribution of water, serving crucial roles in both agricultural and domestic endeavours.
24. The rotating bulls of Es Firó.
Es Firó festival in Sóller unfolds a unique and lively reenactment of a historic clash against pirates. The locals engage in an unconventional defence – spinning wooden bulls to ward off the simulated invaders. This spirited tradition captures the essence of Mallorca’s resilient spirit and strong sense of community.
25. The sea air plays a part in baking on the island.
Talking of those delicious Ensaimada pastries – it is widely believed these sweet treats are notoriously difficult to bake anywhere outside of the island, because it is the Mallorcan sea air which helps the dough to rise.
26. The luminous blue cave: Sa Gleda.
Venture into the hidden wonder of Sa Gleda, a sea cave that unveils a magical surprise. As sunlight filters through an underwater entrance, the cave is bathed in a celestial blue radiance, creating a captivating spectacle that evokes a sense of stepping into an ethereal realm.
27. The mysterious stone heads of Ses Païsses.
Ses Païsses, an ancient settlement, holds a captivating enigma in the form of stone heads bearing distinct facial features. These intricately carved stones, resembling human faces, continue to intrigue archaeologists and historians, offering a tantalising glimpse into Mallorca’s ancient past and its enigmatic symbolism.
28. Mallorca has ancient salt pans.
The history of salt production on Mallorca dates back to the 8th century BC, with evidence of Phoenician traders from Lebanon being involved. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that salt production experienced significant growth and development on the island. The salt flats at Colònia de Sant Jordi, Ses Salines, transform into a mesmerising pink panorama during sunset.
29. The enchanted rock of Sa Foradada.
Located on the rugged coastline of Mallorca, this unique rock formation features a striking hole or “foradada” carved by the relentless waves over centuries. Its dramatic silhouette against the azure Mediterranean Sea creates a picturesque scene. According to legend, this hole was created by the legendary giant Guinyent, adding a touch of magic to an already captivating natural wonder.
30. Mallorca’s paddle tennis passion.
Padel tennis is a beloved tradition in Mallorca that brings people together for exciting matches and friendly competition. This unique sport, known locally as “padel,” has found a special place in the hearts of Mallorcans. With its combination of tennis and squash, padel offers a dynamic and engaging experience on specially designed courts.
It’s not just a game, but a social event where players of all skill levels can have a blast while staying active. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, joining in a game of padel tennis in Mallorca is a fantastic way to connect with the community and embrace the island’s vibrant leisure culture.
31. Tough sheep in Mallorca’s wild places.
In Mallorca, there are these tough sheep called Raça de Xisqueta. They live in the wild and rough parts of the island, and they do really well even though the weather can be tricky. These sheep are like nature’s survivors, showing how well they can handle Mallorca’s challenges. It’s like they and the island are a perfect match.
32. The dance of the Ball de Bot.
For a bit of fun, you can witness the unique ball de bot dance in Mallorca. This dance is firmly rooted at the heart of the island’s traditions. Everyone, whether they’re from Mallorca or tourists, gets together and dances in a happy way that shows they’re all part of Mallorca’s family. When they hold hands and move to the music, it’s symbolises the island’s story coming to life.
33. Travel back in time: Moors and Christians battle it out.
Pollença’s Mock Battle of the Moors and Christians is like a time machine. It’s not just a show – it’s like going back to a really old time when people had big battles. People dress up in bright clothes and do cool performances that remind us of those old days. It’s like Mallorca’s history is right in front of your eyes.
34. The vintage electric tram of Sóller.
In the town of Sóller, a vintage electric tram offers a nostalgic journey through fragrant orange groves. As the tram meanders along its picturesque route, passengers are transported to a bygone era, connecting the past with the present and offering a unique perspective on Mallorca’s beauty.
35. The special light trick which happens twice a year at Mallorca cathedral.
Twice a year, on November 11th and February 2nd, something special happens at Palma de Mallorca Cathedral. In the early morning, the big round window makes a beautiful pattern of light and colors on the wall below the smaller round window, creating a shape that looks like the number 8.
This magic trick with light works because of how the cathedral is built and the special crystals in the big window. They make a pretty reflection on the wall across, just below the smaller window. It’s like nature’s own artwork that shows off the cathedral’s beauty in a unique way.
According to local lore, the Caves of Drach hold a treasure of immeasurable worth, sought by pirates and buccaneers centuries ago. Yet, this mythical trove remains under the vigilant protection of a fearsome dragon – from which the caves derive their name in Catalan, ‘dragon.’ This legendary guardian stands watch over the most secluded nook of this magical realm.
When Jamie II of Mallorca ordered the construction of his island fortress in the fourteenth century, little did he know it would become one of Europe’s oldest and few circular castles. This Catalan-gothic marvel stands 112 metres above sea level, boasting a courtyard and well-preserved battlements. It’s a cultural gem and a top attraction, offering stunning views of Palma de Mallorca and its bay from the surrounding forest. The castle holds its own legends, including a mysterious underground grotto with origins that still puzzle archaeologists. One theory suggests it could have been an escape route to the sea, commissioned by the king for times of danger.
FAQS about facts about Mallorca.
Q: What makes Mallorca unique among the Balearic Islands?
A: Mallorca stands out for its diverse landscapes, combining beautiful beaches, rugged mountains, and charming villages, creating a captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.
Q: Are there any famous personalities associated with Mallorca?
A: Yes, renowned composer Frédéric Chopin and writer George Sand spent time in the picturesque village of Valldemossa, leaving an artistic legacy that still resonates today.
Q: How old are the Talaiotic structures found in Mallorca?
A: The Talaiotic structures, including the circular talaiots, date back to the late second millennium and early first millennium BC, showcasing the island’s ancient history.
Q: Can you tell me more about Mallorca’s honey buzzard migration?
A: Twice a year, majestic Honey Buzzards migrate from Europe to Africa, using Mallorca as a temporary haven. This awe-inspiring spectacle attracts nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers to witness their remarkable journey.
Q: What is the story behind Mallorca’s traditional dance, ball de bot?
A: Ball de bot is a spirited dance that brings together locals and newcomers to celebrate Mallorca’s cultural heritage. Passed down through generations, it reflects the island’s identity and history.
Q: Is there a unique tradition involving wooden bulls in Mallorca?
A: Yes, during the Es Firó festival in Sóller, locals spin wooden bulls to reenact a historic battle against pirates. This quirky tradition symbolises the island’s resilience and community spirit.
Q: Can you explain the significance of the “Gothic Eye” rosette in Mallorca Cathedral?
A: The “Gothic Eye” is a 13-metre diameter rosette in Mallorca Cathedral that produces a mesmerising light show during sunrise on specific days. This phenomenon, known as the eight o’clock show, creates a magical atmosphere.
A: Legend has it that the Caves of Drach hold an invaluable treasure guarded by a dragon. The caves offer a unique and mystical experience, complete with stunning formations and even classical music concerts.
Q: What’s the story behind Bellver Castle and its subterranean grotto?
A: Built in the fourteenth century, Bellver Castle is one of Europe’s oldest circular castles. It features a mysterious subterranean grotto, believed to have been an escape route commissioned by the king for times of danger.
Q: How does Mallorca contribute to culinary traditions?
A: Mallorca boasts three products with Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status: sobrasada sausage, Mahón-Menorca cheese, and Binissalem-Mallorca wine. These products showcase the island’s dedication to preserving its unique gastronomic heritage.
Q: Are there any rare or unique species found in Mallorca’s ecosystem?
A: Yes, the island is home to the Podarcis Lilfordi lizard, a unique species that contributes to Mallorca’s extraordinary biodiversity and delicate ecological balance.
Q: How does Mallorca celebrate its history and culture through festivals?
A: Mallorca hosts various festivals, such as the Correfoc and the Mock Battle of Moors and Christians, where streets come alive with dancing demons, fireworks, and reenactments, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the island’s rich traditions.
Q: What is the significance of Palma Cathedral’s grand rose window?
A: The colossal rose window in Palma Cathedral casts a changing spectrum of colours, bathing the sacred space in celestial light. It’s a stunning architectural and artistic feature that adds to the cathedral’s grandeur.
A: While some legends suggest the existence of a submerged village beneath Cuber Reservoir, there is limited historical evidence to confirm this intriguing claim.
Q: What role does Mallorca play in the world of art and architecture?
A: Mallorca showcases the work of iconic architect Antoni Gaudí, and the island’s landscape has inspired artists like Joan Miró. Its unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage has left an indelible mark on artistic expression.
Q: How can visitors experience Mallorca’s unique underwater world?
A: Palma Aquarium offers an immersive experience in its expansive shark tank, allowing visitors to walk through a tunnel surrounded by magnificent predators, gaining a newfound appreciation for the ocean’s wonders.
Q: What are some lesser-known facts about Mallorca’s history?
A: Mallorca’s historical tapestry includes its Jewish heritage, as seen in the Palma Jewish Quarter, and the island has been home to various civilizations, leaving behind ancient structures and cultural traces.
Q: How does Mallorca embrace its ecological treasures?
A: Mallorca’s commitment to preserving its natural heritage is evident through the protection of unique species like the Balearic saffron and the Mallorcan midwife toad, showcasing its dedication to maintaining the island’s biodiversity.
Q: Can visitors enjoy traditional Mallorcan footwear?
A: Abarcas, Mallorca’s timeless leather footwear, offer a chance to walk in the footsteps of tradition, embodying the island’s craftsmanship and cultural legacy.
Q: What is Mallorca’s connection to historical legends and myths?
A: Mallorca’s rich history is interwoven with legends of pirates, hidden treasures, and mystical creatures like the dragon associated with Bellver Castle, adding an element of intrigue to its cultural narrative.
Map showing hotels in Mallorca.
The map below shows prices of hotels by geographical location from Booking.com. You can zoom in, zoom out, or drag the map to see towns you are interested in. Click the map to look at more prices, and reserve your room (you can always cancel later).Booking.com
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You are reading Hazel’s Travels – an online publication and travel blog which aims to provide advice and inspiration for travel in Europe, the UK and USA.Tags: Balearic Islands, Mallorca, Spain