Sant Llorenç des Cardessar
Saint Lawrence of the Thistles is a quiet village, made even quieter by the new bypass. People have lived in the area since pre-historic times and over 70 archaeological sites have been recorded. The parish extends east to the coast and this is where the main finds are found. The largest site is at s'Hospitalot Vell, on the road to Cales de Mallorca, where you will find the ruins of boat shaped houses known as Naviforms, stone buildings and a fort with huge walls. S'Illot is a walled settlement and it can be found in the centre of the resort of the same name. Na Pol, Na Gatera and N'Amer are three more settlements along the coast while the walls of Llucamar are in the fields northwest of Saint Lawrence.
On the road heading west from Saint Lawrence towards Manacor is an iron signpost for Son Peretó, an early Christian church dating from 5th century at the end of the Roman occupation. The main body of the Church is at the east end, closest to the road, and while relics were discovered beneath the altar the floor was covered in mosaics. The altar, the mosaics and other finds can be seen in the Museum of Manacor. Two baptismal fonts were installed in the next room and while one catered for a full immersion, those who could not manage the steps used the smaller version. A room, or chapel, was on the south side of the building while the room to the west was originally used for preparing bodies before they were laid to rest. This room was converted into the priest's quarters and storage rooms were added at a later date. This part of the building was burnt down during the 7th Century by marauding raiders.
Monsignor Aguiló encouraged the first archaeologists to begin work in 1912 while Pere de Palol carried out more work in 1967. Much of what we know today was discovered in a comprehensive dig in 1981 and work to protect the site and make it visitor friendly started in 2005.
Continue east into Saint Lawrence. Many of the farms in the area have Arabic style names but following the conquest in 1229 the hamlet was called Santa Maria de Bellver and some believe that the original church was where the Son Vives farm is, one mile to the east.
The village was renamed Sant Llorenç de Bellver in 1349 in honour of Saint Lawrence, an important Saint in the legend of the Holy Grail. When Emperor Valerian executed Pope Sixtus and his deacons in 248, Lawrence was entrusted with keeping the chalice used at the Last Supper safe. Legend has it he took what is known as the Holy Grail to Huesca, in Aragon, northeast Spain. Today it is worshipped in Valencia's Cathedral. Lawrence had also given away all the Church's treasures to stop them falling into the Emperor's hands; he was grilled alive.
Today we find the town hall at the bottom of the main street while the Church of Santa Maria de Bellver is at the top. The original church dated from the 14th Century but what we see today was completed in 1907 to accommodate a larger congregation. Inside is an ancient image of the Virgin Mary with Jesus which legend tells us was discovered in a patch of thistles following the conquest in 1229. The name Sant Llorenç des Cardessar, or Saint Lawrence of the Thistles was adopted in 1519. The village was separated from Manacor in 1892.
Head east out of Sant Llorenç onto the Ma -15 and follow signs for Son Servera. After ½ mile you will see a large farm complex perched on a hill on the left hand side of the road. The original three storey tower was built in the 13th Century, not long after the conquest and was originally called the Pardines of Tower. It passed to the Vives family towards the end of the fourteenth century and they added a manor house and a small church; it was originally believed that this was the original Santa Maria de Bellver. In the 17th Century the estate grew cereals and had vineyards and the church became the vinery. The complex has been restored and is a fine example of the development of a Mallorcan manor house.
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