San Salvador Monastery
Mallorca's second most important place of pilgrimage after Lluc is San Salvador Monastery and it stands on the peak of the 500 metres high hill overlooking Felanitx. The lord of Santueri Castle, the fortification which stands on the peak of the nearby hill, founded the monastery in 1348 and the statue of the Virgin inside has been worshipped here since the 15th Century.
Pilgrims originally had to scale the narrow path to the summit, passing the Stations of the Cross along the way, and stopping at the wayside shrine built next to a spring. In 1961 a new road was built, and visitors can now drive to the top, negotiating sharp turns and steep inclines on the way.
It is worth stopping just before the top to visit the cross, which was dedicated on 25 August 1957. While it has a welcoming inscription "Brothers, these arms are always open to everyone", the views from the hill known as 'El Picot' are spectacular.
On a clear day it is possible to see the whole of southwest Mallorca, stretching from Santanyí in the southeast around to Porto Colom in the southwest.
Continue to the car park at the summit and take the time to visit the seven metre high statue of Christ portrayed as a King, dating from 1934. For a second time it is possible to enjoy spectacular views of the island's southeast coast.
At the summit of the hill is San Salvador Monastery and the church, refectory and monks cells surround a small courtyard. The present structure was completely rebuilt in the 18th Century and the plaque by the side of the door remembers Miquel Rigo y Puig, the man who organised the building of the road to the summit 200 years later.
Inside the entrance hall is a display of sports shirts on the walls belonging to Felanitx cyclist Guillem Timoner, who won the world championship in motor-paced racing several times. He donated the shirts as thanks for his victories.
Inside the church we can see the recent alabaster sculpture of the Virgin and the Child, carved by Guillem Sagrera or one of his pupils, behind the altar. The original statue is now kept in one of the side chapels.
Before leaving the monastery have drink or a bite to eat in the refectory and take time to reflect on the effort it took to build this hilltop sanctuary while you admire the views across Felanitx.
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