Calvià district has one of the largest densities of hotels and apartment blocks on Mallorca and is the second most populated area on the island after Palma. However, if you make the short drive from Palmanova or Santa Ponça into the hills you will find a delightful traditional village which is far from the maddening crowds. Even though the village is only a couple of miles from the coastal resorts you feel as though you are much further.
There are 56 archaeological sites in the Calvià district but the largest concentration is on the south side of Santa Ponça bay to the south. There are very few in the valley where the village is, and neither the Romans nor Byzantines ventured far from the coast to explore the hills. The sailors preferred to remain close to the coast instead.
When the Moors took over the island in 902 A.D. Calvià came under the district of Ahwãz al-Madina but again only a few settled in the area. They built farms close to the few streams and used their knowledge of hydraulics to build channels and aqueducts to drive their mills and water their terraces.
Following the conquest of Mallorca by King Jaime I, which started at Santa Ponça in September 1229 the Calvià area was given to Berenguer de Palou, the Bishop of Barcelona. (Check out the Sant Elm and Santa Ponça webpages to find out more about the invasion of Mallorca). The community completed the first church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist in 1248, even though they numbered less than 100 when King Jaime II made Calvià a village in 1285. There were still only 250 inhabitants in 1543 proving that the combination of plaques, poor harvests and high taxes resulted in a high mortality rate while many hardy survivors moved to Palma to eke out a living. Those who remained built a tiny chapel at the junction of Calle Major and Calle de la Capelleta dedicated to Our Mother of Sorrows.
The farmers grew wheat, oats and vegetables as well as tending olive groves and vineyards but the hard times were never far away; the bubonic plague decimated the village in the 1500s while a series of droughts at the beginning of the 1600s resulted in a prolonged famine.
The majority of the fertile land was owned by rich families who built large manor houses while the peasants lived in nothing more than hovels. One example of a Mallorcan manor house is Son Roig to the east of the village.
The Church of Saint John the Baptist was rebuilt between 1867 and 1896 and the wonderful ornate door overlooks the centre of Calvià. A colourful depiction of the history of the village is written on ceramic tiles on the school, just in front of the church.
Nearby Es Capellà to the north is also worth a visit and there are many walks on the quiet lanes between the two villages.
A walk in hills will reward you with fantastic views of the Calvià district, confirming that there is far more to the area than the sea and the beaches. Check out the Galatzo webpage to discover more about a number of walks.
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