The Port of Pollença is tranquil today and the only boats sailing in the bay are being used for pleasure or fishing. However, it has not always been like that. In 1522 an Imperial fleet anchored in the bay after putting troops ashore on Alberenitx beach, north of the quayside. Troops marched on Pollença and sacked the town, killing many of the villagers. Read the Brotherhood's Uprising webpage to find out more about this civil war.
In the 16th Century, pirates were the scourge of the Mediterranean Sea and towns along the coast Mallorca were the target of many attacks. Usually pirate raids were made by single ships manned by brigands and criminals but by the 1500s the Ottoman Empire also reached its zenith in and their fleets considered Christian lands to be legitimate targets. The feared Ottoman Admiral and privateer Dragut (or Captain Turgut) became well known for attacking the Spanish coast and the Balearic Islands and in May 1550 Pollença was his target.
While men manned Pollença Castle on the hill to the north and guards kept a look out along the shore, Dragut's fleet slipped into the Bay of Pollença on the night of 30/31 May. Around 1,500 soldiers were led inland towards the town of Pollença, looking to get loot and slaves. However, luck was on the side of the townspeople because while the pirates were delayed the guards spotted Dragut's ships and raised the alarm.
The soldiers and militia were roused from their beds and while the Army was nowhere to be found, the town militia captain, Joan Mas, organised the troops gathering St. George Chapel. In the battle that followed both sides suffered many casualties but the pirates were driven back and they returned to their ships empty handed. The day of the raid became known as the Day of Misfortune and an annual mock battle between the Christians and the Moors has been held 1882; it is commemorated on 2 August.
As a result of the raid, plans were made to protect Pollença by building a fort on Punta de l'Avançada, or the Advanced Point, the headland on the north side of the bay. However, work did not start on Sa Fortalesa Castle, or the Castle of Strength, until 1622 and it took six years to complete. The pirate raids had virtually ended military by this time but the military garrison stayed on until the 19th Century.
The first quayside was installed in 1830 and thirty years later a new road connecting the town with the port was added. The original two families were soon joined by others as fishing and trading increased and it did not take long for the port to become a village in its own right.
Sa Fortalesa Castle was bought by the Argentinean painter Roberto Ramaugé in 1919 and he reformed it, adding guest buildings and gardens. Over the years that followed he invited artists and aristocrats from around the world to stay. He also watched as flying boats flew into and out of the bay after the new base opened in 1934.
Life changed dramatically in Pollença Bay when the Spanish Civil War started in July 1936. Captain Fernando Beneyto and his men were loyal to the Republic and the base only fell into the Nationalists' hands after a fight. Ramaugé was also forced to leave his home when the military took it over. Over 100 people from the Pollença area were tried during the war and 20 were executed as enemies of the regime.
Italian bombers of the Aviazione Legionaria flew missions from Son Bonet aerodrome, near Pont d'Inca, from the start of the war and they flew under false markings, under the pretence they had been sold to Spain. To begin with they attacked the Republican beachhead on the east side of the island; see the Porto Cristo webpage to find out about the Republican invasion of Mallorca. They then carried out bombing raids on cities such as Barcelona and Tarragona; they also attacked ships at sea and in ports such as Alicante and Denia.
Nazi Germany also decided to help the Nationalists and sent men, tanks, artillery and planes under and they served under the name of the Condor Legion. Aufklärung Seas gruppe, or Sea Reconnaissance Squadron, (AS/88) arrived in Pollença Bay in June 1937 armed with Heinkel H-59 light bombers. These biplanes could land on wheels or on floats and they were armed with torpedoes. The squadron operated in two groups of three planes and they were useful for making reconnaissance flights of the mainland's east coast.
After the war, the seaplane base returned to civilian duties and Sa Fortalesa Castle was returned to the Ramaugé family. In 2008 it was sold for 125 million euros and was recorded as the most expensive property in Spain at the time. Ramaugé had bought it for only 45,000 pesetas. Although you can see the outline of the house and ground from the quayside, the grounds are private.
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