Selva village sits on a small hill at the base of the Tramuntana Mountains and travellers have to drive around it reach the mountain road to Lluc Monastery. Following the conquest of Palma in December 1229 many Moors fled to the hills, and one natural fortress was Puig de S'Escuder, a steep sided outcrop over 570 metres high. When it was clear that there was no escape many committed suicide rather than be captured.
The name Selva either comes from the Latin word 'Silva', meaning forest, or from the name of the Moorish farm Xilvar. The farmlands were between the knights Pere Nunis and Pere Laí after the Conquest but Selva did not start to grow until King Jaime II granted it a charter for a market in 1301. Families from the mainland were sold plots of land and given tax reliefs to encourage them to move to the area but while the village grew and the King raised money, the owner was losing land. He eventually recalled his property rights and took his case to the highest court in Aragon. The King won and the landowner was only allowed to keep the nearby parish of Caimari.
The church of Sant Llorenç stands proudly at the top of Selva hill, next to the village square. The first church was built by the settlers back in the 14th Century but it burnt down in October 1855 after 500 years of worship. The present church dates from the 19th Century and if you climb the steps alongside the north side of the building you can enjoy the fine views of the mountains from the terrace. The village of Caimari, the medieval baron's estate, can be seen at the entrance to the narrow gorge where the road climbs to Lluc Monastery.
While farmers tilled the fields and the charcoal-burners worked in the woods above, they lived under constant threat of attack. Bandits began camping in the mountains in the 15th Century, and they often raid Selva village and the surrounding farms. One feared bandit leader Guillem Oliver Sord was killed during a raid in 1679 and townspeople locked his body in the prison so his followers could not bury it. The raids reached their climax in 1716 and troops came to Selva and scoured the hills for bandits. Many were arrested and dozens of weapons were found, breaking up the gangs and bringing the raids to an end.
There are three 17th Century communication towers in the Selva area and they were built to communicate between Palma and Alcudia. These circular towers had signalling equipment on the roof and messages could be passed quickly across the island. Son Penya is the best example along with the two examples in neighbouring Campanet.
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