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Tunnel Visions

It may not be a phenomenon specific only to Mallorca, but there are a large number of underground passages and tunnels burrowed into the island’s underbelly. Think of the Roman aqueducts, part over- and part underground, or the Quanats and wells of Moorish origin. Think of the coal mines and the underground Marès quarries. Think of tunnels and shelters built by resistant citizens during the Guerra Civil, the Spanish Civil War. Think of tunnels and caves burrowed by prisoners of war during the Guerra de la Independencia Española (also known as the Peninsular War) below the Castell de Bellver or simply think of fresh water channels and waste-water tunnels built 200 years ago, before the start of the industrial revolution. The Military burrowed extensive tunnel systems into the coastal defense set-ups during the Forties. In Palma, there were extensive underground tunnels for trains of goods and chattels. Nowadays, you have a vast hydraulic waste collection system crisscrossing Palma’s underbelly. I suppose I could go on and on.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to descend into part of the intricate water tunnel system beneath the town of Felanitx. There are two distinct channel systems in Felanitx, both dating from 1830 or thereabouts. One is a grid of water tunnels starting from the Font de Santa Margalida (well) opposite the parish church and reaching to well below the Plaça d’Espanya. Until 25 years ago, these shafts could be accessed and traversed whilst nowadays one can only go as far as the entryway of the tunnelled system. The other grid is a network of tall tunnels for waste water sewage, running the length of both, Passeig d’Ernest Mestre and Carrer de Ses Eres.

I hold an invitation to explore a mile-long tunnel system of Quanats not far from here, in Ses Aigues. I have been there and seen the entry ducts but, as yet have not descended into the tunnel system. If and when I do pluck up the courage and overcome my unease about feeling claustrophobic, I will report back to you.

The photos were taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 30th, 2012. The time was 10:08:04 and 10:11:02, respectively.

2 replies »

  1. If you like caves and “tunnel visions” in Majorca, I would recommend you to check Bellver Castle’s ones.
    We know they exist since 14th century and they are quite extensive. It looks these tunnels were built due to strategic reasons, as a way to provide a passage, a chance to escape.
    It’s a experience quite close to what you’ve shared about Felanitx. The Bellver Castle tunnels are full of legends and stories…

  2. Thanks for sharing this. We spent two weeks on the island two years ago. Every day you show us something we missed.
    I look forward to returning.

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