The Fortification At Es Fortí de Cala Llonga

When I last visited the cliff top fortification at Es Fortí de Cala Llonga in Cala d’Or, some twenty years ago or even longer, it was in a pretty bad shape; one might have called it a ruin. The origins of the fortification may easily go back a couple of hundred years or even more. It might have been built during the 1730s. At that time, surveillance and custody of the coast was a matter of great importance. In an inventory of the year 1832 the military fortress weaponry was listed as consisting of four cannons, a fact that clearly shows the importance and strength Es Fortí de Cala Llonga once had.

Nowadays, the small old fortress stands in good splendour; well, almost. The Military sold the fortress by way of an auction in 1878 and it became private property. In 1992, Es Fortí was acquired by the Fundació Illes Balears who slowly and carefully restored the erstwhile stronghold. It is now open to the public and serves as a venue for occasional festive events, concerts and other cultural and social gatherings. The views over the cliffs towards the coastline of Cala d’Or and the open Med are as good as it gets.

The photos were taken in Cala d’Or, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 6th, 2012. The time was 14:01:11, 13:57:34 and 13:45:16, respectively.

The Fortification At Es Fortí de Cala Llonga

Air Attacks Over Palma in 1937

75 years ago this week, there were two days of severe air attacks over Palma, coming from the Republican resistance to the military putsch of the Falangist movement. Plenty of damage was caused, including the loss of civilian life, particularly in the boroughs of Santa Catalina and Porta de Sant Antoni, where nowadays Carrer de Sant Miquel and Carrer dels Olms would meet. Palma’s leading newspaper at that time, La Almudaina, reported extensively about the Canallesca hazaña de los aviadores rojos (Despicable deed of the red flying machines), when in reality the attacks were aimed at the commandos of the war planes of Benito Mussolini‘s Aviazione Legionara (Italian Air Brigade, financed by none other than a certain Juan March Ordinas) and the German Legion Condor who had come to the help of the Caudillo‘s (General Franco’s) attempt to overthrow the government of the Second Spanish Republic. The foreign air forces had shortly before attacked Durango and Gernika in the Basque province in Northern Spain. Both, the Italian as well as the German air legions had a major presence here in Mallorca during the duration of the Guerra Civil. The Italian Air Brigade, for instance, bombarded Barcelona with air planes stationed here in Mallorca in March 1938.

Later in 1937, Palma suffered two more bombardments on October 7th, and December 7th, respectively.

Both photos were borrowed from the Internet, the top one courtesy of diariodemallorca.es, and the bottom one, courtesy of nothemingwaysspain.blogspot.com.es. Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

Air Attacks Over Palma in 1937

A Submarine Visit in Palma

Not often do we have an opportunity to look at a submarine vessel here in Mallorca. There was a time when such visits were more frequent, during the seventies and eighties, and most of them, courtesy of the US Navy.

Two days ago, a submarine belonging to the Koninklijke Marine (Royal Netherlands Navy) docked in Dic de l’Oest in Palma’s port. The vessel with the name of Dolfijn entered service in 1993 and was built at the Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (Rotterdam Dry Dock Company) in Heijplaat, Netherlands. She has a length of 67.7 m and a beam of 8.4 m with a surface displacement of 2,450 tons. The diesel-electric attack submarine can reach 13 nautical knots on surface and 21 knots when submerged. The Dolfijn has a crew of 50 men and women. The vessel will remain in port until Monday. The Royal Netherlands Navy currently operates 4 submarine vessels.

The Dolfijn had visited Mallorca on three previous occasions, in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

Unfortunately, we will not be allowed to enter the Dic de l’Oest to admire the submarine from close range, I don’t think. Should you have information to the contrary, please let me know.

The photo (top) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Manuel R. Aguilera. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of dutchsubmarines.com.

Muchas gracias, and

thank you very much.

A Submarine Visit in Palma

The Invasion That Never Came

You will probably have seen the bunkers on the beach of Es Trenc, strange and somewhat brutal reinforced dugouts made of concrete. They are a bit of an eyesore. The shelters were built in the Forties on behest of General Franco who was somewhat paranoid about an imminent invasion by the allied troops. Although Spain had officially not taken any sides in the military conflict of World War 2, España was clearly on Hitler’s and Mussolini’s side. The two Fascist leaders had come to Franco’s help during the Spanish Civil War and there had always been a latent alliance between the three nations all led by totalitarian autocrats even if no joint military action was carried out between 1938 and 1945.

As Hitler’s grasp in the occupied territories diminished, Franco feared for some military retribution by France, Britain, USA and the USSR. For some reason he was convinced that an invasion was imminent and he expected it here, in the Balearic Isles. He assembled a relatively large fleet of submarines, based in the North of the island, in Port de Pollença, and he reinforced some of Mallorca’s defense installations, such as Cap Enderrocat, Cabo Blanco, Sa Fortalesa, Muleta and Aucanada. I think there were about twenty coastal defense fortifications here in Mallorca, all equipped with heavy cannons and other such artillery array. Some of these are still intact even though mostly abandoned; some such installations have now been re-constituted for coastal surveillance by radar.

The much anticipated invasion of course never came. Franco survived when Hitler and Mussolini didn’t. The Spanish dictator died in office in 1975. The rest is history.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Colònia de Sant Jordi, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 12th, 2008. The time was 16:05:26. The photo (bottom) was taken near Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 30th, 2012. The time was 17:12:17.

The Invasion That Never Came

The Castell de Bellver

The Castell de Bellver (Bellver Castle) just outside of Palma is unique among Spanish castles in being entirely circular. It was built between 1309 and 1311 for Rey Jaume II, when there was the Regne de Mallorca, a proper Mallorcan kingdom. Now it is one of the main sightseeing attractions of the island.

Today, the castle contains Palma’s museum of municipal history, with pottery from Talaiotic, Roman, Arab and Iberian periods. In the past, the castle was used for many centuries as a prison; the widow and sons of Jaume III were imprisoned here for most of their lives. The intellectual and writer Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (1744-1811) was one of the most famous prisoners of the castle. I’ll tell you more about him in a future blog entry. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the castle was used as a military prison for French soldiers serving under Napoleon, and again, during and after the Spanish Guerra Civil. Emili Darder Cànaves, the erstwhile mayor of Palma (1933-34 and 1936) was also imprisoned here before he was executed 75 years ago last week.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca. The date: February 24th, 2012. The time was 17:36:38. The image (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of fabian.balearweb.net.

Muchas gracias.

The Castell de Bellver

Memories of a Dark Past

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the assassination of Emili Darder Cànaves (Mayor of Palma), Antoni Mateu Ferrer (former Mayor of Inca, below right), Antoni Maria Qués Ventanyol (founder of ERB party, below centre) and Alejandre Jaume Rosselló (Consul of Uruguay in Palma, below left). The four were wrongly accused of belonging to a Plan Lenin plot to overthrow the Falangist movement during the Spanish Civil War. After a court-martial through the Consell de Guerra (War Council), the execution took place against an outside wall of the cemetery in Palma on February 24th, 1937. The accusation was later revealed to be a fabricated deception.

Last night, some 200 people took part in a memorial walk under torch-light from the Baleares monument in Parc Sa Feixina to the Cementeri Municipal de Palma. Yours truly was there, reporting on dark memories from an even darker past.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 24th, 2012. The time was 21:34:21. The photo (centre) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of fotosantiguasdemallorca.blogspot.com. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com and pottipotti (José Juan ‘Potti’ Luna).

Thank you very much,

muchas gracias, and

moltes gràcies.

Memories of a Dark Past

The Aeròdrom Militar de Pollença

Mallorca has three airports; did you know? There is Son Sant Joan, there is Son Bonet, and there is an airbase in Port de Pollença.

The Aeròdrom Militar de Pollença was built in 1937, seventy-five years ago this year. At that time, the Spanish Guerra Civil was in full swing; General Franco was well on his way to assuming power with his iron fist. Earlier this week, a commemorative act was celebrated for the 75th anniversary of that airbase, calling for a largish assembly of the Mallorcan bigwigs.

I was not invited to the commemorative bash; why should I have been? Thus, I made my way to Port de Pollença yesterday, where I had a minor confrontation with a young female from the Military Security personnel. Supposedly I am not allowed to take a photo of the main gate to the precinct, and no-one else is either. Well, I never.

The Pollença airbase is primarily geared for amphibian aircraft and seaplanes. The first such aircraft were submitted by the Italian Air Force in early 1937, which already had their base in Mallorca’s Aeródromo de Son Bonet near Palma. As of 1954, a number of Grumman SA-16 were stationed in Pollença and later a couple of Dornier 24. The Grumman SA-16 were withdrawn from Pollença in 1960 and moved to Palma. They were replaced with a number of CL-215 CANADAIR, principally equipped for the extinguishing of forest fires.

Nowadays, the Pollença unit forms part of the Spanish Fuerzas Auxiliares de Apoyo Operativo del Mando Aéreo General de la Fuerza del Ejército del Aire and comes under the Ministry of Defense in Madrid.

There is some local opposition to the airbase in Pollença claiming that in our modern age, the military base does not serve much of a purpose, apart from its forest fire fighting capacity. I think it is quite possible that before long, the Aeròdrom Militar de Pollença may change its purpose yet again or indeed, may simply cease to exist.

The photos (colour, top) were taken in Port de Pollença, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 22nd, 2012. The time was 15:18:33 and 15:26:21, respectively. The photos (b&w, bottom) were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of requetes.com and elsitiodejactres.blogspot.com, respectively.

Muchas gracias.

The Aeròdrom Militar de Pollença