Culture And History In Mallorca - By: Roger Munns
The island of Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands. Her name is derived from the Latin words "insula maior," which literally mean "larger island." The Spanish island has been consistently recognized as one of the top tourist destinations in the world since 1952. As packaged tourism became more popular, Mallorca saw a half-million visitors in 1960. The number of tourists continued to increase over the years, to nearly 7 million visitors in 1997 and more than 19 million in 2001.
Mallorca has a very colourful history dating back to the Paleolithic period. It has been under Roman, Byzantine and Spanish rule. Museums in various villages on Mallorca showcase a wide variety of artifacts from each period of the island's history. The official spoken languages on Mallorca are Catalan and Spanish, but many Mallorcans are becoming fluent in English and German as well.
Mallorca has been home to some of the most influential people in Spanish history. Writer and philosopher Ramon Llull was born into a wealthy family in Palma. He wrote about and studied a wide variety of subjects, including mysticism, astrology and the occult. He's often considered a pioneer of computation theory. Other names of historical interest include Junipero Serra, Joaquin Jovellar y Soler and former two-time Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Maura Montaner.
Palma, founded as a Roman camp around 123 BC, is the capital city of Mallorca. Located on the south coast, the city is still used as a port today. Palma is the most densely populated city on Mallorca. In fact, it is the 12th largest urban area in all of Spain. Nearly half of Mallorca's population lives in Palma. In 2007, Palma's population was just more than 383,000. Palma is the most visited tourist destination on Mallorca, with many resorts and five-star hotels offering top-notch accommodations and activities to tourists.
Deia is located on the northern mountainous ridge of the island. It is a small coastal village, famous primarily for its awe-inspiring landscape and its star-studded inhabitants. After World War I, Robert Graves, the noted English poet, novelist and scholar, was one of the first foreigners to settle in Deia. There, he collaborated with Laura Riding, and together they set up the Seizin Press. Graves lived in Deia and used the village as the setting for many of his stories.
More recently, celebrities from around the world have chosen the seclusion of Deia over the crowds of other major cities around the world. Hollywood couple Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones purchased a castle-style home in Deia several years ago and continue to enjoy the relative seclusion the village offers. Other celebrities who own homes on Mallorca include Claudia Schiffer and Elton John. Despite its reputation as a home to the stars, Deia is a very welcoming village that offers a great deal of hospitality to its visitors.
One of the most impressive museums in Deia is the Deia Archaeological Museum and Research Centre. Founded by Dr. William H. Waldren in 1962, this remarkable and fascinating museum is just as well known for its architectural design as it is for its archaeological collections. Many of the island's museums offer a visual and intellectual feast of archaeological artifacts, including the prehistoric antelope-gazelle which was thought to have become extinct around 40,000 years ago. The fairly recent discovery in Mallorca has shown that it probably didn't become extinct until around 3000 BC.
Mallorca is an island full of wonder and fascinating history. Millions of visitors every year enjoy the rich culture and amazing historic artifacts on display in its many museums. The island's primary cities and villages are some of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. Deia is one of the more private destinations, as no coaches are allowed to stop in the village, and parking is limited in an effort to stop the 'two hour tourist'.
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