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felanitx, mallorca (majorca)

There is evidence of a pre-Talayotic settlement on Sa Mola Hill to the west of Felanitx where pre-historic man first lived in caves. They then built long thin houses, with stone walls and roofs made of branches and mud on the plain as they started to grow crops and breed animals. The buildings were shaped like the hull of a ship and called naviforms. Around 1000 B.C. villagers felt the need to protect themselves from attack and they built walled settlements including those at Es Velar de Son Herevet, northwest of the town, and Rossels, beyond the hamlet of Ca's Concos to the southwest.

felanitx, mallorca (majorca)Attacks by Greek and Phoenician pirates decimated the primitive settlements in the Felanitx area and while it is believed that the Romans probably garrisoned Santueri Hill to the south (check out the Santueri Castle webpage to find out more), the Moors were the first to establish a settlement called Canabitx, where Felanitx is today. They discovered the spring, which is now in Santa Margalida Plaza in front of the church, and built a mosque in the Sitjar area, on the high ground behind Sant Miguel church.

The Moors also built a castle on Santueri Hill and it was one of the last places to surrender following the conquest of Mallorca by King Jaime I in 1229. The King's great uncle, Nunó Sanç, was given the area around Sa Mola Hill and he in turn handed it to Guillermo Valeti. Although the first San Miguel Church was built by 1248, very few people settled in the area until Jaime II granted Felanitx a market. He also sold off plots of land to settlers from the mainland.

The year 1451 may be, or may not be, an important year in Felanitx's history if you believe the local legend that Christopher Columbus (Cristofol Colom), the explorer who made four voyages to the Americas between 1492 and 1502, was born here rather than Portugal or Genoa. They believe he was the son of Prince Carlos of Viana and Margalida Colom. The argument was presented by author Gabriel Verd Martonell's in a book published in 1989 and the documents he used are in the local museum.

felanitx, mallorca (majorca)The people of Felanitx supported the Brotherhoods Revolt in 1521 (Check out the Brotherhoods Uprising webpage in the Events section), taking over control of the town. Imperial troops reached Mallorca the following February and after sacking Pollença they attacked and beat the Brotherhoods' army. The commander of the rebel army was Joanot Colom, a Felanitx man, and he rallied support in the villages to raise another army. However, he was again beaten at Sa Pobla and the survivors were finally cornered in Montuïri. While the men were fined or imprisoned, Colom was jailed in Bellver Castle where he was tortured for two months before he was publically hung, drawn and quartered. His body parts were displayed by Palma's gates as a warning while his lands were sown with salt so they could never be used again.

felanitx, mallorca (majorca)But it was not the end of the violence in Felanitx. Onofre Ferrandell was appointed Mayor of the town in the wake of Colom's capture. As the crowds gathered to hear him read out the Viceroy's orders, Colom's supporters burnt down the building, killing him and his assistants. The town was occupied by Imperial troops the following day to prevent further disturbances.

Felanitx's fortunes improved in the 19th Century when Mallorca's wine industry was booming. (See the Wine Route webpage in the Raiguer North section). While the vineyards in the north of the island specialised in producing red wine, those around Felanitx produced white wine. A new train line was built, connecting the town to Palma, while horse drawn wagons carried the rest to the new quayside in Porto Colom, to the southeast. (Check out the Porto Colom webpage to find out more.)

In 1886 Queen Maria Christina, wife of King Alfonso XII, awarded Felanitx the title 'Ciutat', only the third town on Mallorca to be given such an honour after Palma and Alcúdia. However, the good times did not last long. In 1890 the vine pest wiped out the vineyards in a single season. The vineyard owners did not plant almond trees as they did in the north part of the island, instead they preserved with vines and they were eventually rewarded with new crops.

Visiting Felantix

felanitx, mallorca (majorca)Santa Margalida Plaza is in the town centre and the houses surround Santa Margalida fountain. Some say the well was dug by the Moors and they used it to irrigate the lands around it, other say it was discovered by the first Christian to settle here following the conquest. Over time a shrine like structure was built at the bottom of a flight of steps. There is a statue next to the well dedicated to the Mallorcan slingers who first fought the Romans and then fought in their armies.

felanitx, mallorca (majorca)San Miguel Church looks down over the square and while it was founded in 1248, it has been altered and extended over the years. Broad steps lead up to the church door which has an ornate portal with a carving of the Archangel Michael. The large rose window and side windows light up the interior. The ancient Church of Santa Maria is just to the left of San Miguel's' steps and it dates from the end of the 13th Century.

On Palm Sunday 1844 the road on the right hand side of the church was the site of a terrible disaster. The wall collapsed during the Easter parade and over 600 people were buried beneath the rubble. 414 died in the crush and a plaque on the wall remembers them. Follow the wall to find the market hall and town hall which are hidden in the narrow streets behind the church.

Felantix's elegant railway station can be found on Paseo de Ramón Llull, on the west side of the town. Horse drawn wagons pulled up in the long square and men loaded the wine vats onto waiting trains. A sculpture in the square remembers Simón Barceló Obrador (1902-1958), founder of the Barceló Group. The company started life moving people and goods around Felanitx in 1931 but it entered the world of tourism in 1946. It is now one of the most important tourism companies in the world, employing over 26,000 around the world.

The Church of Sant Agustí is on Calle del Convento, which runs east off the plaza. The impressive church was completed in 1603 and the adjacent monastery and cloister were completed around 70 years later. In 1835 the monastery was one of many sold off under Prime Minister Mendizabel's plan to raise money to support Queen Isabella II and end the civil war known as the First Carlist War. The Church managed to buy it back in 1901 but they are still raising money to return it to its former glory. La Providència Convent, is on Carrer Julivert, in the east part of the town. It was totally reformed at the beginning of the 20th Century.

La Mola Hill overlooks the southeast side of the town and if you are feeling energetic follow Calle de Callo to its southeast end follow the footpath up the hillside, passing the Stations of the Cross along the way. There is a chapel at the top where you can stop and enjoy the views over Felanitx.

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