People have been living on the northern slopes of Randa Hill since pre-historic times. There are Pre-Talayotic tombs on Son Reus Hill (the hill west of Randa Hill) and Talayotic towers at Son Coll to the southeast and Casa Nova de Pina to the northeast. There is also the Sa Serra-Punxuat fortified settlement south of the village.
The Moors were the next people to inhabit the area and the two estates were part of the Muntuy district. The name Randa came from the Arabic word 'Arrenda', meaning 'laurel', while Algaida, meant 'forest'. The Arab farmers worked hard to turn the arid land into fertile ground using the lessons learnt in North Africa to tap the streams from Randa Hill. They built water channels and cisterns and dug wells and tunnels to irrigate the lands. The limestone is particularly soft around Algaida and the Moors dug irrigation tunnels, called qanats (or qanawats), to get water across the undulating landscape. The longest qanat in Mallorca is on the slope of Son Reus Hill to the southwest; it is 300 metres long.
Following the conquest of the island in 1229, the Algaida area was given to the King and he in turn carved it up between his supporters. The Punxuat estate was given to Prince Pere de Portugal while Randa Hill was given to the Knights Templars. The religious character of the Order meant they wanted solitude while their military qualities meant they needed a place to build a castle. Check out the Knights Templar webpage in the Organisations section and the Randa webpage to find out more about this interesting hill.
The first settlement in the area was two miles to the southeast and the new settlers called it Castellitx and built the Mare de Déu de la Pau Church dedicated to Saint Peter. King Jaime II granted the village the right to hold a market and plots of land were sold to settlers, however, it was soon clear that the village was too far from the main roads. By the end of the 13th Century people were choosing to live at Algaida on the road from Palma to Manacor and Castellitx quickly disappeared.
The name Castellitx was transferred to the new village but the name Algaida was adopted when the new Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul was blessed around 1435. However, this time the church was extended and rebuilt several times into what we see today.
Algaida is home to the 'Cossiers', a folk dancing group which consists of six men and a woman accompanied by the devil. Algaida revived its Cossier dancing group in the 1970s and they are best described as being Spanish Morris Dancers. While the dances have their roots in paganism, the Catholic Church adopted them and they became the highlight of religious fiestas. One famous dance across Spain is called the Moresca and was developed in 1492 to celebrate driving the Moors from Granada and Andalusia.
Castellitx Church is still there, hidden away, and it is one of the few on Mallorca which has not changed over the centuries. It is signposted (as XIIIth Century Church) left off the Ma-5010 to Llucmajor. Follow the narrow road for ½ mile and turn left at the T-Junction; the church is after another ½ mile.
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