People have lived in the Alcúdia area since 2,000 B.C., starting in caves in the pre Talayotic period and then in walled settlements in the Talayotic period; the largest being Son Simó on Ca na Bassera Hill, two miles to the west. However, the area became important in 123 B.C. when the Romans invaded Mallorca and started building a town on the south side of the Alcúdia we see today. They called it Pollentia, or the Fortress, and made it their capital of the Balearicus Islands. It was eventually sacked by the Vandals in the 5th Century A.D. and the survivors moved north, starting a new settlement where we find Pollença today. Check out the Pollentia webpage to find out the full story of Mallorca's Roman capital and the Roman Era to find out about this period.
The Moors conquered Mallorca in 902 A.D. and the placed the area under the control of Pollença, or as they called it, Bullensa. Farms were built around the old Roman town, using stones from the demolished buildings and the farm called 'Al Kudi', or 'The Hill', gave Alcúdia its name. Modern farm names like Alcanada, Biniatria, Gatamoix and Guinyent all stem from Arabic names. Little remains of the Moorish buildings around Alcúdia because they have been built over.
Very little happened following the conquest in 1229; that is until King Jaime II decided to build a fortified town on Al Kudi, making it the stronghold for the northeast part of the island. Its elevated position made it an ideal place to watch over both Pollença Bay to the north and Alcúdia Bay to the south. He donated land for St Peter's Church and a cemetery in 1298 and at the same time ordered the construction of a defensive wall. He also gave permission for a market and sold off plots of land for settlers from the mainland.
Jaime never saw his plan completed and when his son Jaime III was killed at the Battle of Llucmajor in 1349 the Kingdom of Mallorca lost its independence to Aragon. The walls were finished in 1362 and they surrounded a medieval town with narrow streets, manor houses and peasant dwellings. The wall and privileges did, however, make the neighbouring villages jealous.
Alcúdia served as refuge whenever this part of the island was under threat and in 1521/1522 the walled town became the focus of a civil war during the Brotherhood Uprising. Check out the Brotherhoods Uprising webpage in the Events section. However, for the rest of the 16th Century Mallorca was the focus for pirate raids and they attacked the east coast many times, forcing families to leave for safer places. Added to that, plagues and famines reduced the population to such a level that King Carlos III invested in the port in 1779 so it could deal with international trade in the hope of attracting industries to the town.
While the first tourists arrived following the First World War, the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War stopped business in the 1930s and 40s. It would take until the 1970s before the tourist boom really took off and while there are 16,000 inhabitants in Alcúdia, making it the second largest town after Palma on the island, there are also over 29,000 hotel places in the area.
A Walk around Alcúdia's Walls
For map click here
Large parts of the medieval walls completed in 1362 are still standing. It was a mile long and had 26 towers. Phillip II came to the throne in 1556 at the height of the pirate raids against Mallorca and he commissioned new fortifications to protect the walls against new cannons. The new wall was protected by an earth embankment on the outside and formed a moat with the old wall. It also had eight bastions, one at each corner of the town and one in the centre of each wall. By the end of the 19th Century the walls had fallen into a state of disrepair but they have been largely restored.
Starting from the west door, known as the Moll Gate or Xoro Gate on the east, note the memorial to the siege in 1522/1523, after which Emperor Carlos I granted the title; 'El Ciudad Fidelísima' or 'The Beautiful Town' in 1523, the Crown's way of saying thank you for protecting the barons from the Brotherhoods. Head right, or anticlockwise, following the wall past the site of the King's Bastion where you can see part of the King Phillip's wall. Continue to the Queen's Bastion at the north corner of the town where you can look over the town's Bull Ring, a rough and ready affair.
Continue around the walls past the site of St Fernando Bastion and Santa Maria Bastion before passing the Red Gate at the northern corner of the town. You can climb steps and walk along the top of the next section of the wall, enjoying the wonderful views over Pollença Bay; St Felipe and St Luis bastions stood where the road is now.
Head inside the walls at the southwest of the town to visit the Church of Saint James. The first church was built at the same time of the walls and it was enlarged in the 15th Century. It had to be rebuilt in 1870 when the roof was in danger of collapsing. Inside you will see the large rose window, the image of St Sebastian and a small museum of church art. A small oratory dedicated to Santa Ana is just outside the town next to the cemetery. It was built in the 13th Century using stone from the Roman town of Pollentia.
From the church walk east along Calle Rectoria, turning left half way down and keep straight on into Calle Albanales (Calle de Albellons), noting the manor houses. Keep to the right across the plaza and turn right by the elegant early 20th Century town hall. There are several fine manor houses in the cobbled streets around the centre of the town. Head east down Calle del Muelle, a street of restaurants, cafes and shops, back to your start point.
Back to Raiguer (South) Page | Go to Mallorca Days Out home page
www.mallorcadaysout.com is the property of Andrew Rawson and all content is his copyright and no part of it may be reproduced without his permission. Webmaster: Ian Morrison, Apartado 59, Porto Colom 07670, Felanitx, Mallorca.