South West Coast
Looking out from Palma sea front, we can see the long line of cliffs to the southwest (to the left, looking out to sea). There is a road which runs close to the cliff edge and it is well worth the drive to enjoy the views across Palma Bay.
Follow the Ma-19 from the southwest corner of the Palma (signposted for Santanyí) and drive southeast for six miles, beyond the airport. Leave at junction 13, signposted for Cala Blava, and head south, going straight on at the first two roundabouts; also go straight on at the third roundabout after 2½ miles, heading towards Bellavista urban zone. The name Bellavista means Good View and if you turn to the right after ½ mile, onto Paseo de les Dames, you will see why. The road turns back along the coast and there are plenty of places where you can see the fantastic view across Palma Bay. There are a couple of staircases where you can climb down to the rocks to get a sea level view.
At the end of the 19th Century the cliff top south of Bellavista was a hive of activity as hundreds of labourers worked on Enderrocat gun battery. Improvements in naval guns meant that the artillery along Palma's walls and at Son Carlos Castle were insufficient. Ships could sit out in the bay and shell the city at will. Studies on improving the islands defences began in 1889 but work did not start until Spain went to war with the United States of America in 1898, following clashes in Cuba and Philippines. Enderrocat battery was a miniature fort with four 150mm guns and it was surrounded by a deep moat. The guns could shoot far out into the bay, forming a cross fire with a similar gun battery at Illetes, four miles west of Palma. It could also stop troops landing on Arenal Beach.
By the times the guns were installed in 1903, the war with America was over and Spain had lost its territories. However, a second underground installation, called Alfonso XIII Fort, was immediately built on the west side of Cap Enderrocat and the four 150mm guns faced out to sea.
Although the guns were removed in 1939, Enderrocat Fort was used a recruit camp and a prison. Today it is a luxury hotel and out of bounds for casual visitors. Check out the Gun Batteries webpage in the Organisations section to find out more about the defence of Palma Bay.
Continue driving through the Bellavista Urbanisation and turn left, returning to the roundabout on the main road. Turn right and head south, signposted for Cala Pi, and after six miles the road begins to hug the cliff top. Taking care to stop safely, you can walk closer to the edge to get a better view out to sea where Cabrera Island is on the horizon (check out the Cabrera Island and Cabrera Prison Camp webpages in the Mighorn section). But don't go too close to the cliff edge; it is a long way down...
While the cliffs are peaceful now, a century ago plans were afoot to install guns here to stop ships attacking Palma. Spain remained neutral when World War I began in 1914 but both the Allies and Axis were moving ships through the Mediterranean. The decision was taken to build two gun batteries armed with new 150mm guns to protect Palma. While Cala Figuera battery was built on the headland to the west, Cap Regana battery was built on this part of the cliffs. Most of the battery was underground with only a few buildings and the guns on view.
By 1936 the decision was taken to add more 150mm batteries on these cliffs and work started immediately on Punta Llobera battery on the west side of Cap Blanc. Work on the battery on the east side of Cap Blanc was postponed until the Spanish Civil War ended . While the guns are no longer on the cliff tops, the buildings and tunnels are still there. However, they are on private land and dangerous to enter. You can, however, see Cap Blanc lighthouse on the headland.
Continuing your journey, the road turns northeast at Cap Blanc; follow it for two miles and then turn right for Cala Pi. This part of the coast was subject to sporadic pirate attacks, particularly during the 16th Century. However, this part of Mallorca was an unlikely target because the nearest village was Llucmajor, ten miles inland. The cliffs meant that there were only a few places where boats could land and one place was Cala Pi. A small resort has grown up next to the secluded cove but in the past the only people living here were the watchtower guards. The tower was in visual contact with Cap Blanc Tower to the west and S'Estalella Tower to the east and the garrison could quickly send signals if they saw pirates approaching. Check out the Watchtowers page in the Organisations section to find out more.
Return to the main road and head northeast. In one mile we find Capocorb Vell on a sharp bend; it is one of the largest pre-historic sites on Mallorca. A large round talayot faces the entrance and the path leads to the main part of the settlement. There are four more talayots, aligned southwest to northeast and while the end towers are circular, the middle ones are square. There are a series of rectangular dwellings with small yards between the two square towers.
The southeast square tower has a curious narrow tunnel leading down to ground level while the northeast square tower had a central column which has been modified to support the south wall.
There are another three structures roughly aligned with the rest; a túmulo, a square talayot (only the base remains) and circular tower. There is also a structure which stands on its own and it is believed it might have been used for religious purposes before it was converted into a house. Archaeologists believe there may have been more towers, making it one of the largest settlements on the island.
The first digs were carried out between 1910 and 1920 by Josep Colominas Roca and there is a memorial to his work in the grounds. The conclusions drawn are that the area we see today was originally a ceremonial centre while the village spread south to the two farms either side of the road. The rooms between the square towers were added later when the village expanded. People continued living at Capocorb Vell throughout the Roman and Moorish eras and people may have been living there when King Jaime I conquered Mallorca in 1229.
You can visit most of the area and even climb across the talayots to get a better view of the settlement. Check out the www.talaiotscapocorbvell.com to find out more.
You can either retrace your route along the southwest coast to the Ma-19 or continue east for four miles, to the junction with the Llucmajor-Sa Rapita road. Turn left and head north for six miles to rejoin the Ma-19.
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