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Randa Hill

randa hill mallorcaYou cannot miss Puig de Randa, or Randa Hill; at 540 metres high and with a golf ball structure on its summit, it stands high above the centre of Mallorca. To get to the top, follow the road randa hill mallorcabetween Llucmajor and Algaida, taking the turning for the 'Cura', and drive through the small village of Randa, nestling at the bottom of the hill. The narrow road twists and turns up the hillside and as you near the top you get the feeling that the views are going to be spectacular; and you would be right.

You can see probably see all of Mallorca from the top of Randa Hill. To the east is Alcúdia Bay and the island of Cabrera is on the southern horizon. Over to the west is Palma squeezed between the bay and the sprawl of the suburbs, and beyond you can make out Cap de Cala Figuera near Magaluf. The northern horizon is filled with the Tramuntana Mountains and there is everything else in between.

randa hill mallorcaAt the top of Randa Hill is the Santuari de Cura with a small church, a school, cells, and a refectory; i fact everything an aspiring monk. The man who made the hill famous was Ramon Llull, a philosopher who was a prolific writer and philosopher of the 13th Century . Llull's father accompanied King Jaime 'the Conqueror' during the invasion in 1229 and Ramon was born in Palma three years later. He lived in a wealthy household and was tutored well, learning Latin, Arabic, Catalan and Occitan (the language still spoken north of the Pyrenees). He soon joined the royal household and for many years enjoyed his privileged position and decadent lifestyle. That is until he had a spiritual awakening and changed his lifestyle suddenly. He sought solitude on Randa Hill and spent nine years living as a hermit.

Ramon spent his time considering life and religion, putting his thoughts down on paper when he left his hilltop cave. He certainly was a prolific author and has over 250 books to his name while dozens of others have been connected to him. They cover a diverse range of subjects including, religion, logic, computation, mystics, romance, astrology, alchemy and botany. The titles reflect the diversity of subjects; The Ultimate General Art, The Book of Light, The Inspired Art, The Book of Chaos, A Book of Proverbs and The Tree of Science are just a few.

randa hill mallorcaLlull was also one of the founding fathers of science, because he used logic and mathematical devices to solve religious questions and help others gain a better understanding. His ideas were some of the earliest thoughts on information science, and his system of logic is at the heart of computation theory.

Llull became a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis founded, by Saint Francis of Assisi for lay people, and he travelled across Europe, helping to establish colleges for Christian missionaries. In his later years, he made several trips to North Africa on missionary work and concluded that prayer and discussion rather than military force had to be the driving force behind Christianity. He pressed for the study of languages to help convert Muslims and Jews to Christianity, setting up the Miramar Monastery in the Tramuntana Mountains in 1273 so he could teach and write.His ambition to create chairs in Arabic and Hebrew at leading universities across Europe was realised in 1311.

randa hill mallorcaLlull also called for a unification of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, so that together they could fight the threat of invasion from Central Asian tribes. He made his final trip to North Africa in 1314, at the age of 82, and barely escaped with his life when he was stoned by angry crowds in Algeria. He returned to Palma and died the following year; his tomb can be found in Santa Francesc Church in Palma.

Llull's radical views about religion were unacceptable to many religious leaders. Fifty years after his death they were condemned by Aragon's Inquisitor General, Cardinal Nicholás Eymeric, author of the 'Guide to Inquisitors' , the manual for dealing with heretics. Llull's thoughts were also formally condemned by Pope Gregory XI and Pope Paul IV at the end of the 14th Century.

Religious views have relaxed in modern times and the philosophies contemplated all those years ago on Randa Hill are more acceptable today. The Universities of Barcelona and Valencia have chairs for exploring Llull's theories and the 'Tree of Science' , the symbol associated with the man, is the logo of the Spanish Higher Council of Scientific Research.

There is a church, a small museum and a religious refuge in the Cura's grounds. You can also take a look in the shop but for me the best thing about the place is the view from the cafe terrace. As you sit and drink your coffee, you can look down on Palma Bay and the bustling city and see what ideas come to mind.

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