Deià is a small municipality and a striking village in Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, located in a steep valley populated since prehistoric times.
Its name appears to derive from Addaia, as it was called during the times of the Islamic occupation, meaning hamlet. During that period, a prosperous agricultural system was initiated here, based on the construction of terraces, which turned the steep terrain into a myriad of cultivatable fields. Also, a sophisticated irrigation and drainage system was developed. This system is still being used today. In 1239, a Cistercian monastery was founded.
Deià was under the administration of Valldemossa until 1583. The confrontations between the mayor of Valldemossa and the Abbot of the Monastery of Sant Bernat de la Real, in Palma de Mallorca, both claiming their rights on Deià, made for 57 long years of litigation. The Arxiduc Ludwig Salvador of Hapsburg, the author of Die Balearen, resided here intermittently between 1867 and 1912. He bought a string of posesiones (manor houses) in the extended area, amongst them Son Marroig and Miramar, both well worth a visit.
Of course, if and when we visit Deià today, we do not think of the past, at least not of the very old past. We tend to think of the artists, the wealthy and the famous associated with Deià, like the Princess of Wales having come to visit in 1987 without her prince, of Anaïs Nin having been here in 1941, of Robert Graves settling here with Laura Riding in 1929, of Michael Douglas and his then wife Diandra buying the S’Estaca mansion, another erstwhile posesión of the Austrian Arxiduc’s, of the likes of Richard Branson, Annie Lennox, Ava Gardner, Kevin Ayers, Mati Klarwein and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Let me not forget to offer a special salutation to Robert Graves (1895-1985) on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of his death, earlier this month.
The photo was taken in Deià, Mallorca, Spain. The date: November 27th, 2008. The time was 14:51:40.