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Portocolom

portocolom, mallorca (majorca)On the road into Porto Colom is one of the best preserved Naviform sites on Mallorca. These boat shaped huts date were built to accommodate up to 20 people and while they date from the Early Bronze Age period, they were still being used when the Romans landed in 123 B.C. Thick outer walls and pillars of stone supported a roof of branches, leaves and mud while only one narrow end was left open. In some cases several naviforms were built side by side and different activities were carried out in each building. The villagers no doubt hunted the land and fished in the shelter bay where Porto Colom village is today. In 1996 the Department of Prehistory of the University of the Balearic Islands setup the 'Closos of Can Gaià Project' to study the site and improve the understanding of the Talayotic Period.

Continuing into Port Colom, you will find the large natural harbour which has served Felanitx, seven miles to the northwest, for many years. There is evidence that the Romans used the harbour and over the centuries a small village was established on a headland at the north end of the bay. The houses were built around Saint James' Plaza and the villagers prayed to the patron saint of fishermen in the tiny church of the same name. Little has changed around the square to this day.

portocolom, mallorca (majorca)The small wharf served the fishermen well, although threats by the pirates in the 1500s meant that a battery a guns was built on the western headland to cover the approaches to the harbour. A lighthouse was also built on the eastern side to guide sailors into and out of the narrow entrance. The small quayside was large enough for the people of Porto Colom until the boom in the wine industry in the 19th Century changed the harbour's fortunes. The vineyards around Felanitx did not want to haul their produce to Palma for export because it took too long and cost money. Instead they invested in new quaysides on the west side of Porto Colom harbour, ones which could deal with the larger 60 gallon (225 litre) barrels that were being used. Check out the Wine Route webpage in the North Raiguer section for more information on Mallorca's wine industry.

For a few years, the port was bustling with ships taking wine to mainland Spain and France. You can still see the quays today as well as the customs house. Unfortunately, the boom did not last for long. The vine pest reached the island in the late 1880s, destroying Felanitx's vineyards in a season. Porto Colom returned to being a sleepy fishing village once more. Now the harbour is home to fishing smacks and pleasure yachts while apartments and villas have been built in the surrounding woods.


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