Andratx & Puerto Andratx
The name Andratx is either Celtic, Arab or Latin with the Latin version coming from the word 'antra' for caves. Until the 19th Century the town was the main village and it was built on the lower slopes of Galatzo Hill between two streams. Puerto Andratx surrounds the bay two miles to the west and while the fishing village is on the south side, the marina is on the north side.
People have been living in the hills around Andratx since pre-Talayotic times and evidence of Bronze age occupation has been uncovered in caves at Son Fortuny and Son Bosc. Naviform structures came next (so called because they are shaped like a boat hull) and they were large family sized houses with stone walls and branch and mud roofs. Around 1300 B.C. settlements with walls, towers and houses were built and examples have been found at Biniorella and Son Fortuny.
Carthaginian and Greek ships may have used the natural harbour but the Romans were the first to settle in the area and a villa has been located at Son Mas, where the town hall is now. Once the Romans left, the Vandals and Byzantines may have used the harbour but few people lived in the area again until the Moors captured the island in 902 A.D. There are remains of a hamlet and mosque in Estrella Street, in the old part of the town, and it was in the Ahwãz al-Madina district of the island. There were also farms in the area at places such as Ator, Buendar, Biniorella, Tor and Salmanoir and each one installed a system of channels and water tanks to take water from the two streams to water their terraces and power their mills. However, the community was very much isolated from the rest of the island, cut off by steep sided hills from the capital, Medina Mayurqa (what is now Palma de Mallorca).
Following the conquest in 1229 the Ahwãz al-Madina district was given to Berenguer de Palou, the Bishop of Barcelona and the first parish church was completed in 1248; it was dedicated to Santa Maria de Andratx. About 50 years later King Jaime II founded a hospital in nearby Sant Elm and dedicated it to the patron saint of fishermen.
The Bishop applied his own laws, taxes and even decided how the limited water supplies would be distributed. The parish priest ordered the villagers to give their money to the church rather than pay taxes and tax collectors were stopped from carrying out their work. Criminals were rarely tried and the guilty were rarely punished, leading to anarchy. The area's failure to acknowledge the Crown's wishes brought it into conflict with James II and in 1323 the Pariatge Treaty, sharing jurisdiction of the Andratx area, had to be signed.
During the Germanies War in 1521 the Fortuny family supported the King and they had to defend Sagrament Tower from the Brotherhoods when they rose up to protest at the rising level of taxes being set by Palma. Imperial troops landed in Pollença Bay in February 1522 and by the end of the year they had stamped out the uprising. Check out the Sa Pobla webpage in the Raiguer South section and the Germanies war webpage in the Events section to find out more about the Germanies War.
The first pirates were encountered at the beginning of the 15th Century and while plans were drawn up to fortify Andratx, they did not get far. Andratx's isolated position meant that it was forgotten by the authorities and raiders alike, however, two large pirate attacks on 24 August 1553 and 2 August 1578 prompted action. By the end of the 16th Century the San Carlos Tower at the end of the La Mola headland on the south side of the harbour was part of the chain of watchtowers around Mallorca's coastline. It was in contact with Sant Elm Castle to the north via signals on Llebeig Tower on Dragonera Island and with Santa Ponça's Castle via the tower on Andritxol headland, south of Camp de Mar. The final pirate raid was on 9 June 1643. Check out the Watchtowers webpage in the Organisations section to find out more. Andratx celebrates its history on the first weekend in August with its Moors versus Christians fiesta.
Follow the road along the quayside and turn right at the end onto Calle San Carlos. Drive through the villas to the top of La Mola to find San Carlos fort and see some wonderful views of the Andratx valley and Dragonera Island.
The 16th and 17th Century were hard times for the peasants as poor harvests led to poverty. While two districts formed in Andratx, Pantaleu and Pou Amunt, many people left for Palma de Mallorca in the hope of making a living. The fishing and farming industries improved in 18th Century and the confiscation of the lands from the Bishop of Barcelona in 1835, after nearly 600 years of church ownership, allowed new industries to prosper, including new soap factories and timber yards. They were confiscated under Prime Minister Medizabel's laws which were brought in to raise money and support Queen Isabella, bringing to an end the First Carlist War.
The boom did not last forever and the economy went into decline at the end of the 19th Century, forcing many to emigrate for Cuba or France. The situation did not improve until tourism arrived in the 1960s.
Sagrament Tower, where the Fortuny family fought off the Brotherhood, is on the east side of town on Carretera d'Estellencs. It stands over Son Mas manor house which was updated in the 19th Century; today it is the town hall. The old town hall can be found on Carrer de la Llibertat in the old town, to the west of the church. There are many narrow streets and alleyways and Na Gaiana Tower is just to the west, tucked away on Carrer de Murada, but in the 16th Century the garrison could see San Carlos tower on Sa Mola, above Puerto Andratx. The garrison would have sounded the alarm if it saw bonfires warning of approaching pirates.
Andratx's Church of Santa Maria stands at the top of the hill, overlooking the village. The original building was enlarged in the 14th Century and a bell tower was added in the 15th Century to warn the villagers if pirates were approaching. What we see today was built in the 1700s. A statue of Father Antonio Pasqual (1708-1791) stands by the church; he wrote several books including one on the life of Ramon Llull. Read about the great religious philosopher's life on the Randa webpage in the Pla section.
Puerto de Andratx benefited the most from the tourist boom and while there are shops and restaurants around the old fishing village there is a marina on the north side of the bay. At the right time of year it can be a perfect place to watch a Mallorcan sunset. The tiny Nuestra Señora del Carmen (or Our Lady of Carmen) Church is close to the fisherman's quay in Puerto de Andratx. On Calle Rodríguez Acosta, the next street to the left (to the north), is Sant Francesc tower which warned the fisherman if pirates were approaching.
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