People have been living around Campos since prehistoric times and there are several Pretalayotic burial caves and Talayotic towers in the area, including the walled settlement at Es Cap Sun, southwest of the town. Punic ships from Cathage reached the coast of Colonia Sant Jordi in the 6th Century B.C. and settlers began working on the salt ponds in the Es Trenc area on the coast south of the town around 400 B.C.; the ponds are still worked now.
There are very few findings from the Roman period but an early Christian church dating from the 6th Century B.C. has been found at Son Fadrinet, east of the town. The archaeologists discovered a basilica, a baptistery and other rooms and it is believed that it was used until the Moors arrived on Mallorca in 902 A.D. Campos was in the Islamic district of Muntuy but there were only scattered farms when Mallorca was conquered the island by Jaime I in 1229.
The area was given to Nuño Sanç and the first chapel was built close to the road to Colònia Sant Jordi, south east of the town, where San Blas Oratory now stands. Work also started on the Church of Saint Julian in 1248 as the community of Campos started to grow. 1300 is the foundation date of Campos when James II gave the town permission to hold a market and offered tax rebates to encourage people to move to the area. It still has a busy market on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The village had grown to a considerable size by the 1500s when pirate attacks began to increase in frequency and ferocity. The famous sea captain Barbarossa captured Cabrera Island in December 1530 and used it as a base to attack the villages along the Mallorca coast; Campos was a regular target. Watchtowers were built near the coast and the farmhouses called Son Rosselló, Son Lladó, Son Cosmet were fortified. The church was rebuilt as a place of refuge between 1519 and 1560 and the townspeople gathered inside its mighty walls when the tower bells sounded the alarm. Campos was also surrounded by a wall which had seven watchtowers; they are now houses with names such as Can Cosmet, Can Catlar, Can Dameto and Can Bragues.
Once the pirate raids diminished, life returned to normal in Campos and the town flourished and while the walls have long since disappeared you can follow their route. The town hall is on the main street, Calle de la Plaza, and it was built next to a tower called Can Cos in the centre of the town in 1580.
There is a memorial to victims of "D'un Enfrontament Entre Germans" or "A War Between Brothers" on the church wall.
Heading south from the town hall along Calle de Santanyí is the convent of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary established in 1891, and the school they ran is next door. A little further down the same road is the Medieval Hospital which stood next to one of the town gates.
The Church of Saint Julian is on the street of the same name, and it was rebuilt between 1858 and 1873. Inside you will find a beautiful coffered ceiling and a museum of religious items; it is open on market days. Nearby is the monastery of Sant Francesc de Paula of the Order of Minims monks in 1607. The convent was one of the many closed down across Mallorca in 1835 and it was used as the Guardia Civil barracks from 1868 until 2000.
There is a memorial to all victims "D'un Enfrontament Entre Germans" or "A War Between Brothers" on the church wall. While Campos was affected by the Civil War between 1936-1939 it was also involved in a little known civil war over a century earlier. Following the Napoleonic Wars which ended at Waterloo in 1815, Fernando VII initially refused to accept the liberal Constitution of 1812. Even after he accepted it in March 1820, revolutionaries stormed the palace and took him hostage and Civil War erupted across the country. While the Holy Alliance of Russia, Austria and Prussia refused to reply to Ferdinand's request for help, the Quadruple Alliance of Britain, France, the Netherlands and Austria gave France a mandate to intervene and restore the Spanish monarchy in October 1822. An army of 100,000 men crossed the Pyrenees and fought their way across Spain to restore order. Once free Fernando restored absolute monarchy and took his revenge on his opponents. There were violent confrontations in Campos in favour of Fernando VII and he awarded the town the title Fidelísima, or Beautiful Town in 1825.
Campos ranges from bustling and busy on the market days to peaceful and sleepy on other days. You will have to decide when to visit. Find out more about the town on the council website www.ajcampos.org.
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