The Convento De Mínimos

The Convent dels Mínims (Castellano: Convento de Mínimos) in Santa María is also known by the name of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad. This monastery dates back to the 17th century but, was secularized in 1835 when the monks were evicted by the Spanish state. In 1855, the former convent extending over three floors passed into the hands of Marques de Fuensanta who converted the building into a private dwelling. The former cloister was declared a monument of national heritage in 1962 for its aesthetic significance. In 1987, the Balearic Government declared the property a BIC (property of cultural interest), imposing protection and implying a ruling that the current structure cannot be altered.

During the 21st century, the property became a bone of contention between a number of heirs to the Conrado estate, themselves heirs to the Fuensanta clan, and litigation was instigated eleven years ago. The court finally ruled that the property should be subject to a public auction which was duly held a week or two ago. The prime estate with some 5,600 m² of urban land including extensive gardens had been taxed at 1,840,000 €. Bidding started with an offer of 922,993 € by one of the proprietors and swiftly climbed up to the knock-down price of 2,901,000 € (exclusive of impuestos). A monumental church that had formed part of the erstwhile monastery was not included in the auction sale.

Over the last twenty years I have known the impressive location as an upmarket restaurant and as a museum. In the last few years, the property has been used as a stylish venue under the name of Marquès de Conrado where events, banquets and weddings could be celebrated. The old proprietor who already owned two-thirds of the title put in the successful bid in the auction and is now the outright owner of the entire place (but not the church). If you want to celebrate a wedding-do or such like, you might want to consider this locale.

When I went there last week and asked the landlord’s permission to take a closer look at the exterior of his prized possession he kindly but firmly put his foot down. My request was declined. Oh, well.

The photo was taken in Santa María, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 23rd, 2011. The time was 13:30:34.

The Convento De Mínimos

The Watch Tower Society Convention

Here in Mallorca, the Testigos de Jehová (Jehovah’s Witnesses) are a busy lot. Years ago, when we still lived in the countryside, we had a spell of regular visits to our house. Now, in the town of Felanitx, some disciples ring our door bell now and then but, we try to avoid their all-consuming solicitations by not answering the door. There are about 20 local branches of the congregation on the island, offering weekly religious reunions to some 2,000 registered Jehovah’s Witnesses here in Mallorca. The church had been founded in the USA in 1870 with a Spanish district being set-up in 1915, according to Wikipedia.

Last weekend, some 3,500 members of the Spanish Watch Tower Society attended a three-day convention in the infamous Palma Arena. The venue might not have been the wisest choice from a devotional point of view, or so I would have thought. Any possible shortcomings in the flow of energy did not seem to bother the forty or so new ministers (disciples) who got baptized during the weekend assembly. No unfavorable effects were reported as yet, as far as I know. Still, I wouldn’t trust the long-term implications.

The photo (top) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 3rd, 2011. The time was 11:39:25. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, M. Massuti.

Muchas gracias.

The Watch Tower Society Convention

The UNESCO’s World Heritage List

Undoubtedly, the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range is one of the most striking features of this wonderful island. Its awe-inspiring karstic landscape is marked by agricultural terraces, dry stone walls and foot-paths, torrent watercourses and lusciously rich vegetation of holm-oak woods and olive-tree plantations.

Yesterday, at the 35th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 
Paris, France, Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana was given the long-desired World Natural Landscape Heritage status. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee comprises representatives of 21 countries. María Salom, the newly elected president of the Consell de Mallorca, only sworn in a few day ago, must be particularly pleased about the laurels, even though she did not have to work for the distinction. Nevertheless, ¡enhorabona!

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of serradetramuntana.net and the photographer, Marcos Molina.

Moltes gràcies.

The UNESCO’s World Heritage List

The Águilas in Pollença

I went to Pollença yesterday to see the Corpus Christi procession, with the swaying Águilas and the ritual dance of Sant Joan Pelós. I’m glad I went, even though I am not very satisfied with any of the photos I took. Let me explain: there were thousands of people lining the narrow streets of Pollença. It was too crowded for a decent photographic capture of the event. Also, even though the procession moved rather slowly, it moved still too fast to focus the lens repeatedly and get sharp images every single time. I’ll have to try again next year and perhaps with a better camera.

Anyway, if you heeded my advice to go to Pollença you will probably have liked the ritualistic show. I do not know about the origins of the two females carrying cardboard eagle figures who to me looked more like swans with short necks. But, whatever the origins of that custom, a very nice tradition it is. Some sources claim that this is a mediaeval tradition originating from Catalunya and Valencia. In Pollença, this custom seems first recorded in the 18th century. Yesterday, Saint John danced the streets there barefoot whilst carrying a lamb (alive, I think). This year, the two Águilas were represented by twin girls, Maria and Maria Antònia Vanrell. Both ladies’ robes were richly studded with jewels, gold and precious stones that were loaned for the occasion by a number of Pollença families. As of today and during the week, the gold and gems will be returned to the lenders. To avoid confusion as to who lent what, the pieces are stitched to the white dresses with coloured thread, with each lending family being allocated a distinct colour for all their items.

Below, I am offering you a photo of the Pollença Águilas, possibly taken around 1920, which I found on the Internet. Enjoy.

The photo (top) was taken in Pollença, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 26th, 2011. The time was 20:38:09. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of todocoleccion.net.

Muchas gracias.

The Águilas in Pollença

The Crossley Engine In Binissalem

We sometimes find it hard to perceive that some technological achievements have not always been with us. Take refrigeration as an example, telephones or, simply, electricity.

I do not know when electricity first came to Mallorca but, I do know that at the beginning of the 20th century, electricity and lighting were produced on this island privately and on a local basis. Take a place like Binissalem, for instance. Here, an engine manufactured in Manchester by the Crossley Brothers Ltd. Company was purchased by the Can Pedro Ferrer factory, purveyors of electricity for the benefit of this pueblo in the early 1910s. I am not quite sure but, I think we have a gas fuelled atmospheric internal combustion engine here. Crossley of course is better known for their engines for Leyland buses as of 1905 and for their contribution to manufacturing with the introduction of the production line. It is said that the Crossley system even influenced Henry Ford. In 1904, Crossley started producing automobiles and, later, aviation engines. Two Crossley engined light-trucks went on the so-called Court Treatt expedition, the first to drive a motor vehicle from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo in Egypt. The party of six people set off in September, 1924, and reached Cairo sixteen months later in January, 1926, having covered 12,732 miles (20,500 km). Car production at Crossley’s came to a halt in 1937. The aircraft motor facility eventually ended up producing aviation engines for the Rolls-Royce Industrial Power Group until 1995.

The engine in Binissalem was busy producing electricity until the late 1950s. By then, electricity in Mallorca was manufactured by the coal-fired power station in Alcúdia and supplied island-wide. The Crossley engine was hence donated to the Ajuntament in Binissalem, who duly restored it in 2002 and put it on permanent exhibit, albeit rather well hidden, in Binissalem’s Parc de sa Rectoria. So, there.

The photo was taken in Binissalem, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 23rd, 2011. The time was 14:02:21.

The Crossley Engine In Binissalem

The Sant Joan Pelós Freak Show

Spain, a country traditionally immersed in the Catholic faith, celebrated Corpus Christi last Thursday and yesterday, San Juan (Saint John the Baptist). In Mallorca, San Juan is called Sant Joan. In Felanitx and in Pollença, Sant Joan is called Sant Joan Pelós. Despite the difference in name, it all amounts to the same saint. And it all is a welcomed social gathering, an excuse to be merry, to feel connected to local traditions and to have a drink or two.

There’s an anecdote I wish to share with you, concerning Sant Joan Pelós and Felanitx. In the Summer of 1852, the Spanish Reina Isabel II de Borbón (Queen from 1833 to 1868), visited Mallorca, aged 22, on her way to Menorca. Obviously, her main stop in Mallorca would have been in Palma but, she also came to Felanitx for a brief sojourn, for whatever reason. Wanting to impress and entertain the young Queen, the Felanigenses (citizens of Felanitx) presented their ample local traditions, i. e. Cavallets, Gegants, Xeremiers, Ball de Bot, Caparrots, Dimonis as well as Sant Joan Pelós. On seeing the masked saint dance, shaking his long maned hair, the Queen is said to have insisted he be removed from her sight, calling him a Mamarracho (freak). I have been told that her wish was granted.

It may be for reasons totally unrelated to this episode that it took 136 years before another Spanish monarch came to visit Felanitx. This time, in 1988, some large parts of rural Felanitx had been declared areas of natural disaster caused by some fierce torrential rain resulting in severe flooding and some serious destruction of roads, bridges and livestock. The Queen was Reina Sofía, the wife of Spain’s King Juan Carlos I.

If you want to see Sant Joan Pelós wave his long hair whilst dancing, you might want to make your way to Pollença tomorrow, Sunday, June 26th. There, a Corpus Christi procession will be held after the church service, including Sant Joan Pelós and the Águilas (eagles). If I get there in time and manage to capture the scene, I’ll show you a photograph of Sant Joan Pelós and the Águilas on Monday. Insha’Allah.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 24th, 2011. The time was 18:35:35.

The Sant Joan Pelós Freak Show

School Vacations

Any day now, schools up and down the island are breaking up for their school vacations, here in Mallorca. That’s infants (3 – 6 years of age), primary school pupils (6 – 12 years), secondary school students (12 – 16) and university undergraduates. Final year Bachillerato (Baccalaureate) youngsters (16 – 18) already ended their term a few weeks ago. They had to go on and sit their selectividad exams (university entry tests). Most school kids have been celebrating with Fin de Curso activities, including a botellón or two if they are old enough and allowing for some under-age ones as well, or will have a beach party, especially today with Sant Joan being celebrated and Midsummer Night.

Some pupils will have failed their grades. In Spain, they are given a second chance and can re-sit their tests in September, something called the recuperación. They will have to make an extra effort during the Summer break and continue their studies over the next two months to try to fill in the blanks they had when last tested. A good percentage of those re-sitters will in fact manage to get a better result second time round and gain promotion to the next school year. It takes a lot of discipline to study when everybody else is enjoying themselves at the beach. Best of luck for those trying hard to study.

The photo was taken in Santa María del Camí, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 23rd, 2011. The time was 14:10:47.

School Vacations