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The Heritage of Valldemossa

It is a pity really that the pueblo of Valldemossa seems to suffer the dubious fame of being associated forever with not much more than the visit by Frédéric Chopin and his consort, the Baroness Dudevant (George Sand), during the Winter of 1838-39. Two million visitors descend every year on the Cartoixa de Valldemossa and its surrounding souvenir shops and coffee houses in search of the origins of Chopin’s Grande Polonaise op. 22 when, in reality, the village has much more to offer and is much more steeped in historical heritage.

Let’s start with the name. It is said that the name of Valldemossa had its origins in the Moorish period. Apparently, the area was then known as Vall d’en Musa which translates to ‘valley of Musa’. It seems that Musa was the Walí of Mallorca who represented the rulers of the island, the caliphs of Córdoba. Musa was the erstwhile owner of the original estate, here. The Romans passed through this region two thousand years ago, too. The area went into decline after the Moors were defeated until the King Jaume II of Mallorca decided to have a small summer residence built here for his son at the beginning of the 14th century, the Palau del Rei Sanxo. Not far from here, the house where Catalina Thomàs was born in 1531 (see photo below) has been converted into a  small shrine. The Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Habsburg settled nearby in 1871 and started to tell the world about Mallorca and the Islas Baleares in his remarkable masterpiece, the nine-volume compendium Die Balearen, the result of 22 years of detailed study, first published in German in 1870-91 and being awarded the Gold Medal in Paris in 1878 on the occasion of the world exhibition.

The Spanish statesman, author and philosopher, Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos came here as a political prisoner in 1802, before he was moved to the Castell de Bellver in Palma. Rubén Darío, the poet from Nicaragua, lived and created here during the winter of 1906-07 and again, for a whole year in 1913. Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges, lived and worked in Valldemossa in 1919-20. The Spanish composer, Manuel de Falla, spent time here in 1938-39. I will abstain this time from talking about Michael Douglas or his Hollywood friends.

The photos were taken in Valldemossa, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The dates: December 5th, 2010. The time was 14:01:56 and 14:00:51, respectively.

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