The district of Son Servera includes the town and the 8,000 or so inhabitants in the nearby resorts of Cala Bona, Costa de los Pinos, Cala Morell and part of the larger resort of Cala Millor. There are over 40 archaeological sites in the area, including Pretalayotic caves and the Talayot at Pula, northeast of the village. The Romans ignored the area and it was not until the Moors arrived on the island in the 10th Century that a number of farms were established in what became part of the Yartan district, including Benu-Quinena Algarb to the west and Benu-Quinena Exarquia to the east. The Moors set about building irrigation systems and water mills to turn the valley into a fertile area.
Following the conquest in 1229, King Jaime I granted Son Servera to Serveral knights from Marseille but they soon sold their plots and by 1250 the area was being run by two landowners: the Ferri and the Cervera families. In 1302, King Jaime II bought a large area of land around Son Servera and it was named the Royal Forest (Devesa de Furrutx). The royal party often rode out to these parts to hunt stags, roe deer, wild boar and pheasants; they also indulged in falconry a popular sport of the day.
While plans were discussed around the same time to establish a port close by, work never started and the Servera estate did not change. By the 1330's hunting was in decline and Jaime III sold his forests to raise money. The peasants resorted to killing the game to stop it destroying precious crops until there was none left.
Binicanella manor house passed from generation to generation until its lands were divided between two Servera brothers in 1474. The north side of the estate was called Son Frai Garí while the south was called Ca s'Hereu. Pirate attacks increased at the beginning of the 16th Century and in 1516 the brothers built a fortified building to protect the farmers. The building is now part of the parish church of Saint John the Baptist and you can see how the spire was added when the building was converted in 1622.
While the first houses were built around the tower, the village did not expand for another 175 years. The brother in charge of Son Frai Garí got into debt and his lands were eventually handed over to creditors. After ten years without a buyer, Artá University bought them in 1666 and sold off over 70 small plots on what is Calle Dr. Servera, the street between the old church and the top of Puig de Sa Font. The village then grew rapidly and Son Servera was a thriving farming community with over 1,800 by the early 1800s. Then disaster struck in May 1820.
One legend says that a boat from Tangier moored so that the crew buried one of their shipmates on the beach. A young shepherd boy was watching the burial party and he later dug up the body to get the cape the corpse had been buried in. He died the next day under mysterious circumstances and over the days that followed another 50 people died; the bubonic plague had reached Son Servera and the locals blamed the cape.
Another story tells how two villagers contracted the disease while helping to unload a ship, delivering wheat because of a food shortage. The men, and anyone they came into contact with, fell sick and died.
The epidemic was spreading quickly and although the town doctor isolated the sick to try and stop it, it had reached Capdepera, Artá, Sant Llorenç and Manacor by the beginning of June. The Government's Board of Health had to act and a military cordon was established around the towns. Son Servera became a ghost town as nobody dared to take to the streets but the plague still spread, killing 1,040 out of 1,800 inhabitants over the next three months. Although plague related deaths had stopped by the end of August, the authorities kept the cordon in place over the winter. It was eventually lifted on 1 February and the survivors held a subdued fiesta to remember those who had died.
Today the plague victims are remembered by Eduardo Servera's Shepherd Sculpture in Plaza de s'Abeurador (or Trough Saquare), next to the church; there is a wall plaque around the other side of the church, next to the police station.
At the turn of the 20th Century the people of Son Servera decided they needed a new church and Joan Rubió , a pupil of Antoni Gaudí who had worked on Palma Cathedral, was commissioned to design a large Neo-Gothic style building which would stand in the centre of the village. The foundation stone was laid in 1906 and work progressed slowly over the next 25 years work. By the time the walls of nave and the choir were completed the money had run out and work stopped, leaving a roofless empty space. The unfinished Bar Nou Church is now covered with wild oleander and climbing roses and it is used for music shows and weddings. It can be found near the old church, just off the square.
For further information try Son Servera's council website www.ajsonservera.net. It has pages in English
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