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Portals Vells

portals vells mallorcaTake the Magaluf turning from the motorway and continue straight on at the Waterparks roundabout. After 1.5 miles (just beyond a petrol station) continue straight on where the main road bends sharply to the right towards Son Ferrer. The side road passes through a golf course and then heads into the woods; there are two beaches at the end of the long track. The first turning heads to Mallorca's first nudist beach and it was called El Mago (The Wizard) in 1967 after a film staring Anthony Quinn, Michael Caine and Candice Bergen was shot around here. The film was going to be set in Greece but a military coup meant it had to be filmed in Mallorca.

portals vells mallorcaIf we continue to the end we come to a delightful bay called Portals Vells. The cliff face to the right of the bay has three large man-made openings which were made back in the 14th Century when King Jaime II decided to build the Cathedral. The rock here was perfect for cutting into huge blocks which were dragged onto waiting barges and then taken to Palma. The stone was also used for the Church of Santa Eulàlia in the centre of Palma.

If you explore the caves, you will be surprised how deep they go into the hillside and if you look carefully you can see how the medieval masons cut the blocks out of the ceiling. The locals eventually nicknamed the underground quarry 'The Doors' or 'The Gates' because of their similarity to a set of doors, hence the name of the bay Portals Vells - the 'Old Doors'. Inside there is a crude chapel which probably dates from the 15th Century. Legend has it that Genoese sailors were blown off course while trying to reach Palma and they were driven into Portals Vells cove. They left a statue of the Virgin in the caves and over time an altar was carved in the wall. Although the statue was moved to Calviá several times it mysteriously returned to the caves each time. It was finally given a new home in 1866.

There are a number of paths along the cliffs to the west of the bay (right looking out to sea) and you will find some wonderful views of Palma Bay. However, not so long ago Cap de Cala Figuera was home to the military. A series of gun emplacements were built along the cliff tops in the 1920s to stop enemy ships entering the bay. A similar group of gun batteries were built on the far side, some twelve miles across the water to the east. Although the gun turrets have been removed the headland is still riddled with tunnels; all of them out of bounds. Check out th Gun Batteries webpage to read about them.

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