The island of Majorca is the biggest in the Balearics and boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year. It is an extremely popular holiday destination for many Europeans and approximately a two and a half hour plane journey from most UK airports.
The island of Mallorca offers something for everyone whether it be a party and beach holiday. A family holiday exploring the local water parks and attractions; or perhaps a tranquil holiday tucked up in the mountainous regions with spectacular vistas and quaint little villages (these regions are particularly popular with walkers and cyclists). Not forgetting one of the most cosmopolitan cities, Palma de Mallorca, in Europe.
The resort of Magaluf is extremely popular with the party hard tourists. BCM is renowned as one of the best nightspots in Europe along with a host of other small clubs and bars. On the outskirts of Magaluf are two excellent water parks. For the family there is also a new and exciting aquarium not far from the airport. Head around the coastal areas, out of the well known resorts, and up into the mountains and you will see another side to Mallorca. Lush green woods, small babbling streams and pretty little villages, not to mention the amazing views from high up. A day out in the city of Palma is a must with the amazing architecture and cathedral to see and a perhaps a walk down to the port of Palma. Palma has some popular and chic nightspots. Or perhaps end the day with a glass of wine or cafe con leche, watching the world go by.
Majorca has an extremely complicated history being fought over by many different people, due to its popularity with trade and industry. The Romans first bought civilisation to the island in 123 BC and held power for the next five centuries. They essentially established industry, towns and roads (as with most countries conquered by the Romans) and introduced Christianity. The Romans held great respect for the original island dwellers, the Mallorca stone slingers. Incidentally the word Balearic is thought to have originated from the Greek word ballein, which means to throw.
As the Romans power decreased the island was conquered by The Vandals, a Germanic tribe, in 425 AD. But only a century later the island was conquered by the Byzantines, who rebuilt all the buildings and reintroduced Christianity which was destroyed by The Vandals. By 902 AD The Moors, a Muslim tribe from the peninsula and northern Africa had gained control of the island. The island again flourished for the 300 years the moors had control. However there were a number of differences between the Christians and Muslims throughout this period.
In 1229 King Jaime I of Spain invaded the island with 15, 000 soldiers. This was due to the islands success and the moors stealing some of his ships. In about three months King Jaime had gained control of the island, destroyed Moorish buildings and re established Christianity. When the king died in 1279 his second son, Jaime II inherited the island and the islands success continued. Mallorca continued to be an island that was fought over and in 1344 the Catalans arrived to take the island under the control of Aragon. When Ferdinand and Isabella married the Aragon’s and Castile’s joined forces and the island became part of this union. They set up the Spanish Inquisition in 1449, which led to persecution, execution and exile of Muslims and Jews forcing some into Catholicism. At these troubled times Mallorca was often under threat from pirate attack, new shipping routes were established and the plague was prevalent, as a result the island prosperity suffered.
Mallorca became part of the Baleares in 1714 following the war of succession and the establishment of a Spanish monarchy. Piracy continued to be an issue until 1785 when the island was granted permission to attack without fear of punishment. During the 18th century the famous Mallorcan missionary Fray Junipero Sera led missions to America and was responsible for establishing cities such as San Fransisco.
The 19th century was a particularly turbulent time for Mallorca. Many refugees flooded the island. Almond and wine production was also hit hard by disease and loss of trade. This was compounded by the loss of some Spanish colonies. Many people ended up leaving the island and going to North Africa and Southern America.
Mallorca was generally in support of Franco and as a result was largely unaffected by the Spanish Civil War. Francs Death in 1975 saw Spain once again become a democracy and by 1981 The Balearics became an autonomous state. Mallorca still has many issues with regard to its language, mallorquian (a dialect of Catalan), and it can be a contentious issue. The schools now use Catalan as its main language for education although most residents use a mix of Spanish and Catalan.