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Sant Joan & Es Calderers

sant joan, mallorca, majorcaThere are 42 pre-historic sites in the San Joan area, ranging from pre Talayotic caves and Talayotic graveyards through to Roman artefacts. There were only a few farms in the area during the Moorish period and they belong to the Jijnau-Bitra district; the Alhamar estate stood where Sant Joan is today.

Following the conquest by King Jaime I of Mallorca in 1229, the Alhamar estate was given to Pere de Palau. The first church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist was built near to the estate house and the new settlers built their houses close by. In 1236 King Jaime I exchanged Mallorca with Prince Peter of Portugal for an area known as Urgell, in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. Legend has it the Alhamar estate was given to Arias Yánez at the same time. Yánez was a Portuguese knight of the Order of Sant Joan de Verí and he gave the village its name.

sant joan, mallorca, majorcaSant Joan was given permission to hold a market by Jaime II's decree of 1300 and plots of land were sold off to encourage settlers from the mainland to start a new life on Mallorca. Of course once they started farming the land and producing crops, the taxes started to fill the royal coffers. Arias Ferradis was given the village in 1322 having handed over the village of Bunyola in the foothills of Tramuntana to King Sanç. He only held it until 1343.

Times were hard for the people of Sant Joan and while plagues, droughts and crop failures kept the villagers in poverty, taxes kept rising. By 1521 they had had enough and when the Brotherhoods rose up against the barons, the people of Sant Joan joined the uprising and attacked three of the estates. (Check out the Brotherhoods webpage in the Events section). The rebellion came to an end when Imperial troops reached the island in 1522 and by the end of the year it was over. But the repercussions were not; dozens were questioned and two of the leaders were hanged.

Droughts at the beginning of the 19th Century forced the farmers to dig new wells to water their crops but for a while it looked as if the village might be abandoned. It was only saved when Antoni Oliver from the nearby Els Calderers manor house returned from Europe with new farming ideas. He taught the local farmers how to improve their crop yields and his ideas were soon copied across the island.

sant joan, mallorca, majorcaThe original parish church of Sant Joan Baptista (Saint John the Baptist) was completed in the 1400s and the ornate side door dates from 1587. While the bell tower was added in 1729 and the building was reformed between 1759 and 1791, many parts were rebuilt between 1927 and 1939.

There is a memorial to Father Luis Jaime Vallespir outside the church and he served under Father Junípero Serra , the President of the California missions in the 18th Century. He was working with the Tipai-Ipai Indian tribe at the San Diego Mission when they attacked on 5 November 1775 while the garrison was away working on a new mission. Father Luis was killed and a painting dating from the time of his death is in the sacristy.

Just across the road from the church is the impressive Catholic Centre, or 'Es Centro', dating from 1919. The Caja Rural de Sant Joan savings bank had been founded in 1903 to give credit to farmers and it helped set up the Farmers Catholic Union in 1919. There is a statue of Fra Lluís Jaume at the top of the facade.

To the south west of the village is the Chapel of La Mare de Deu De Consolació at the top of a long flight of steps.

Check out the local council webpage at for more information.


Els Calderers

es calderers, mallorca, majorcaSoutheast of Sant Joan is Els Caldereres, a museum of Mallorca life which signposted from the Sant Joan road or from the Ma-15, the Palma to Manacor road (6 miles west of Manacor). The estate belonged to the Calderers family since 1285 but the building we see today was built by the Verí family after they bought it in 1750. A major restoration was made by Don Francisco de Sentmenat, son of the Count of Ribas, in the mid 20th Century.

es calderers, mallorca, majorcaThe Sentmenat motto was "To want is to win" and they wanted to create a representation of Mallorcan manor house life in the 18th and 19th Centuries. They collected period furniture and furnishings, items of art and a wide variety of other household items to create the house we can visit today.

There are gardens and a pond in front of the main house while the impressive plain stone façade is now covered with ivy. The entrance hallway leads into the courtyard where we can see how the three stories surround around a shaded courtyard, or 'clastra' which has a well. The hallway has portraits of the family, in particular Manuel de Sentmenat, Viceroy of Mallorca, who died in Lima in 1710. His son was Juan Manuel de Sentmenat and his grandson was Antonio de Sentmenat who was elected Cardinal for Pope Pius VI in 1789. You can also Captain Antoni Barcelo's chest; Check out the Pirates of the Mediterranean webpage in the Famous People section to learn more the pirate hunter.

A large vaulted reception room is to the right of the entrance and it is now decorated with 18th Century furniture and paintings. Just beyond are the pastor's office and the private chapel where the family heard mass every day. The wine cellar beyond is filled with presses, barrels and bottles.

es calderers, mallorca, majorcaThe gentleman's withdrawing room at the back of the house is filled with hunting weapons and trophies and the men would come in from hunting to share stories in front of the fire. The archives room was filled with the estate papers and the head of the house could study them in the adjacent office.

Passing through a kitchen filled with period cooking utensils, we step down into the dining room where there is a fine table set for 18 people. Both the china and the napkins have the Sentmenat coat of arms on them. Next are the music room and the ladies drawing room. Here the ladies of the house gathered to practise music, read and sew away from the men. The living room is the last on the ground floor.

Climbing the stairs we find the Lord's and Lady's dressing rooms and bedroom joined by a service corridor and it is like stepping back to the turn of the 20th Century. The rest of the bedrooms are rooms are filled with various exhibits of Mallorcan life, ranging from guns to toy soldiers and clothes to dolls. From the roof terrace, we step into the servant's quarters and see the contrasting standard of living. Passing through a huge granary filled with period farming implements we see the estate administrator's quarters. Our tour ends in the shop selling traditional Mallorca products while outside we can explore the barn, stables, bakery, laundry and smithy.

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