The drive from Soller the Son Castello Industrial Estate is one straight road. Soon to have a new roundabout which will slow the traffic. This is to provide access to the Raixa building which houses a few treasures and is The Consell de Mallorca’s new HQ for Unesco. A fine house, lots of land, and after years of neglect being made important again.
The same can be said by many of the fine rural buildings of Mallorca. Land valuers and builders snip away at local Town Halls and buy every inch they are allowed. The incongruity of new build villages sitting next to the beautiful relics of the past is life in Mallorca.
What if you were the builders, developers and politicians which had the northern corner of Palma in your grip? The land before the Son Castello Industrial Estate and the Soller road. The space which was all part of the Son Real Possesio and the Monestir de la Real is enormous. Enough land to build a new town, a major hospital, an industrial estate and still have room for acres of trees. The potential of this site was an architects dream and mismanagement and court cases helped it every step of the way.
Today it is a mixture of new build styles and interests with a Monastery in the middle. Today’s architects are known to weep at the sight of the potential which was allowed to evolve in such a way.
Our ‘Nan’s Day Out’ this week was a search for the place which should have been so easy to find. You can see it from Son Espases hospital and from the edge of the industrial estate of Son Fuster. This was the place that was at the heart of all these lands and now it is just a right turn off a motorway slip road – all very easily missed.
This cloistered building is a Christian centre which houses a library, a church and beautiful cloisters which are used for community events. Concerts and folk dancing happen, plus it is the centre for local fiestas and activities. Access to the cloisters is through a side door in the Church, they cannot be seen from the outside of the building.
Secar de Real is a newbuild town which arrived at the same time as the industrial estate and the new hospital. Streets of new homes built to house many of the workers from these two areas. An overflow suburb of Palma which is linked on the main Palma bus routes. On a hot day in July with no-one on the streets it had the air of a ghost town.
The adventure round this area for us was trying to see what it must have looked like before. In the days when land was farm land with an imposing Church and Monastery in the middle. We were also trying to work out where the grazing is going to be. In an attempt to return ‘rural’ to the area some of the fields alongside the main road to the Soller tunnel have been earmarked for pasture lands and livestock.
Seen as a whole it is just odd to have an urban circumference to this area. The Monastery Church itself is used daily for services and the place is open for visitors from 4 pm from Monday to Friday. It is then you can access the cloisters from the Church. Ramon Llull chose to leave some of his work in the library here. La Real holds a large collection of editions of the Mallorcan philosopher’s work, a Mallorcan themed bibliography with more than 15.000 titles, on natural sciences and religious beliefs.
For the people who live in the vicinity this is a very important place. It is the centre of their history and their religious observances. It has stood here for centuries and now is surrounded by an ever expanding City of Palma. To have a centre for fiestas and fairs, musical performances and theatre in the cloisters is very important to the locals. They can still stay in their environment and not be swept up by the city.
The City of Palma knocked on their doors for years to get at this land. In an ever expanding population the growth and development occupy the planners for the whole of their careers. This one came with its own grief and there is still an unfolding story about the permission to build Son Espases Hospital.
This was an interesting walk around an area close to home with expansion tales which did not suit everyone. In 2021 there are local hospital staff who love their homes in Secar de Real and Palmanyola. A stone’s throw away from work with new build comfort built in.
Many arrive seeking a view of the old Mallorca and will find it if they look – just like we did today.