Discover Mallorca

An important part of the history of Europe over the last 2,000 years, and of the desire to gain control over the Mediterranean, involves Mallorca and the Balearic Islands, set in the geographical heart of one of the most culturally and commercially prosperous areas of the entire planet.

The centre of the Mediterranean

The first signs of the presence of humans in Mallorca date from the year 7000 BC, although the first periods we have more information on are the Pre-Talayotic Era (2000 BC – 1,300 BC), and above all the Talayotic Era (1,300 BC – 500 BC), when groups of inhabitants began living together in settlements protected by large walls.

Since then, the relationship of the settlers on the island with other civilisations became closer in terms of commercial and cultural ties. This is particularly true of the Phoenician colonies established after the continental expansion of Carthage in around 500 BC. Before the end of the millennium, the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus commenced the conquest of Mallorca and the Balearic Islands in the year 123 BC, and found it harder than he expected to conquer the valiant resistance of the Mallorcan sling-throwers, an authentic symbol of the history of the island.

After the long period of Romanization, in 534 AD Mallorca came to form part o of the Byzantine Empire led by Justinian I, and experienced a few centuries of relative political and administrative independence.

This continued until in the year 903 AD, Mallorca fell under Islamic influence, and the Balearic archipelago came to be known as the Eastern Islands of Al-Andalus. After the first years of splendour and wealth, Mallorca was to gradually fall into total decadence, becoming a Taifa kingdom in the midst of the disintegration of the reign of the caliphs.

1229: The Conquest by King Jaime I

The year 1229 is a milestone in the history of Mallorca, due to the conquest of the island by the Christian King Jaime I, which put an end to the Muslim era. The island drastically changed its religion, language and social and economic system after becoming part of the Crown of Aragon, establishing the foundations of the Mallorca we still know today.

After the death of the conquering King, his son King Jaime II distinguished himself by doing battle against the Crown of Aragon to gain the independence of the Kingdom of Mallorca, which he achieved in 1295. A period of splendour on all levels lasting nearly half a century began, coinciding with the construction of important symbols like the Cathedral, Bellver Castle and the Almudaina Palace, among others.

It all came to an end in the year 1343, with the invasion of Pedro IV “The Ceremonious” and Mallorca’s return to the Crown of Aragon. The last King of Mallorca, Jaime III, would die in battle in Llucmajor, trying to defend the independence of his land on the field, brandishing a sword.

The marriage of the Catholic monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, which united the Crowns of Castile and Aragon, plunged the inhabitants of the island into an increasingly manifest poverty, left to their fate by the Castilian side, which was much more powerful than Aragon. Thus, from the late 15th century to the end of the 17th century, Mallorca experienced a period of profound crisis, with peasants working as day labourers with no rights on the big estates (the impressive “possessions” that can still be admired today) belonging to the nobles and rich traders.

Since the 18th century, when the name of Kingdom of Mallorca disappeared for good after the Spanish War of Succession (1701-1713), the island has always suffered the fate determined by the winds blowing from the peninsula, with no power to resist, from uprisings and Republics (1873-1874 and 1931-1939), to the Civil War (1936-1939) and Franco’s dictatorship (1939-1975).

1960: Tourism and prosperity

So many invasions, so much plundering, so many changes in kings, cultures and systems throughout history, mean that we Mallorcans have an innate sense of business in our genetics, and can identify both threats and opportunities from afar.

And this was how come, from the mid-20th century on, a handful of visionaries laid the foundations that still support the most profitable industry the region has ever known: tourism. Surnames like Barceló, Escarrer, Riu or Fluxà, among others, are still at the top of the large international tourism holdings.

After decades of the so-called mass tourism, when the new millennium was inaugurated, the main actors in Mallorca’s political and business world began working to try and attract quality tourism clients who, rather than just sunbathe and drink beer, would take an interest in the culture, nature, gastronomy, traditions and rich history of this region.

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