Attractive rural town in the mountains of west Majorca
Valldemossa is one of the prettiest villages in Mallorca. It's situation in the hills of the Tramuntana range, at about 17 km from Palma makes Valldemossa an extraordinary day out and is a wonderful cultural visit. Surrounded by forested hills and lush countryside, it's also a favourite with outdoor enthusiasts.
With a population of around 2,000, Valldemossa is a quiet and traditional town with narrow streets and lanes constructed with blonde stone, as are the houses. Each doorway and street is lined with beautiful green plants and flowers making the town one of the most beautiful in Mallorca. Many doorways of houses feature a religious symbol of Mallorca's patron saint, Saint Catalina Thomàs to protect their houses from harm, a tradition set many years ago.
The landmark that everyone comes to see is the 13th century monastry which has links to the Polish composer Frederic Chopin. Known as the ‘Real Cartuja de Valldemossa’ this is an old Carthusian monastery, originally founded as a royal residence until changed to a monastery in 1399. Writers, artists and composers found inspiration in Valldemossa including composer Chopin, who lived in Valldemossa during the winter of 1838-39. It was at the Real Cartuja that Chopin spent the winter with French writer Aurore Dupin, who was better known as her alias George Stand.
The village itself is full of charming little streets fileld with cafes, galleries and gift shops. Traditional family bakeries can still be found in Valldemossa and serve up the local delight of ‘coca de patata’ translated to ‘potato cake’. This is infact a sweet cake made with boiled potatoes to form a small and soft bread/sponge textured bun. This is commonly eaten with a coffee or a thick hot chocolate and is a favourite amongst the locals.
Valldemossa is surrounded by fertile land where olive and almond trees are grown and it has changed very little since it was first inhabited, despite the increase in tourism trade. The unchanging residential streets can therefore be quite slippy as years of wear have caused some paving stones to become polished and difficult to grip. Be careful if the ground is wet but many steep streets have matts on the ground to walk on that should make it easier to get up and down the street without falling over.
The town is very well sign posted and offers quite a few cafes and restaurants. There is also a lovely garden nearby the Chopin Festival Association where a bust of Chopin can be found close by. As the town is very small it is quick to have a look around, and although the narrow streets can be quite confusing to navigate, you can never get too far from the centre.
Although close to the coast, Valldemossa is not a beachside town. There is a small mooring harbour for a couple of fishing boats at Port Valldemossa which is about six km away. There is a restaurant here and a small pebble beach. Many visitors and locals in this area will travel to nearby Deia which continues to offer picturesque views of the west coast.
There are two large car parks in Valldemossa that are controlled by parking meters and getting around on foot is the easiest option once there.
Valldemossa is easily accesible from Palma (about a 30 minute drive) which means it does suffer from coach loads of day trippers during the summer season, but for the rest of the year, it is a wonderfully tranquil and unspoilt place to visit. For hikers, bikers and nature lovers, Valldemossa is a good place to be based, there are many hikes and trails in the area, many of which will reward you with glorious sea views.
The celebration of Patron Saints is very important to the people and the culture of Spain. Valldemossa is no exception to this custom and celebrates two important days. Firstly the ‘Festes de la Beata’, festival of the blessed, on the 28th July. This is to celebrate Catalina Thomàs, originally from Valldemossa who became the first saint of Mallorca. This is the most important fiesta for the Valldemossins where hundreds of people will flock to the streets to view and take part in parades of a statue of the Saint through the town.
The second important fiesta is that of Sant Bartomeu on the 24th August, the Patron Saint of Valldemossa. Festivities such as music events, sports and concerts all take place in Valldemossa at this time including performances in the cloisters of the Real Cartuja de Valldemossa monastery.
History & Culture of Valldemossa
The name Valldemossa comes from the Moors name for the town - Musa Valley. The Islamists were rulers of Mallorca for 300 years from the 10th century and introduced irrigated terracing to allow cultivation of the hilly landscape.
The Mallorcan philosopher Ramon Llull founded a monastery just outside Valldemossa on the current site of the Miramar Estate in 1276 which became a centre of learning for Franciscan monks. This academic leaning led to the first printing press on Mallorca being introduced here in 1485.
Mallorcan tourism began in this small town in the mountains when during one cold, damp winter in 1838, the composer Frederic Chopin arrived with his lover, George Sand. They rented a former monk's cell, planning to carry on their affair away from the gossip of Paris and hoping that the climate would benefit Chopin's health (he had tuberculosis).
Nothing worked out as planned. The weather was wet and windy, the couple were shunned by the locals, Chopin's piano failed to arrive and the relationship never recovered. Sand took out her anger on Valldemossa in a spiteful book, Winter in Majorca, which the locals, labelled as thieves and savages, still gleefully sell to visitors.
The Real Cartuja (Royal Carthusian Monastery) is the focus of any visit - white-arched corridors lead to 'cells' containing museums on various themes. Visit the old pharmacy - you can almost smell the herbs - then look into the library, where the monks would meet for half an hour a week, their only human contact. There is a fine modern art museum, with works by Picasso, Miro and Juli Ramis, and of course there is Chopin's cell...
Try as it might - and it doesn't try very hard - Valldemossa cannot escape its connection with Chopin. Whilst most people come for the Chopin experience, there is more to Valldemossa - it is also the birthplace of Catalina Thomas, Mallorca's patron saint. A peasant girl born in 1531, she became a nun in Palma and was renowned for her humility. Catalina died in 1574, was beatified in 1792 and achieved sainthood in 1935. Almost every home in Valldemossa has a plaque imploring her prayers, and her birthplace at Carrer Rectoria 5 has been turned into a shrine. She would probably be appalled.
Other places to visit include the Palau del Rei Sanç (Palace of King Sancho) next to the Cartuja. There is also a cultural centre, the Costa Nord which acts as the headquarters for the Foundation for Sustainable Development of the Balearic Islands.
Hotels in Valldemossa
A luxurious choice in Valldemossa would be the Relais & Chateau Valldemossa Hotel. It's a small boutique hotel set in pretty grounds, with an outdoor pool and a small wellmess centre. It also has a highly regarded restaurant. Another small hotel with plenty of character is the Es Petit Hotel which has traditionally styled rooms and views to die for.
On the outskirts of Valldemossa is the Hotel Son Escanelles. This old manor house has seven traditionally furnished bedrooms and extensive, pretty gardens that includes a swimming pool.
Possibly the most romantic place to stay in this area is the Hotel Mirabo de Valldemossa. Set in the hills above Valldemossa this 16th century manor house offers eight stylishly designed rooms. There is a gorgeous swimming pool with wonderful views and the food recieves rave reviews from the guests.
Just outside Valldemossa is the finca Son Brondo - an ancient manor house that has four traditional bedrooms. The whole house can also be rented out for groups up to 15 persons. A similarly styled finca is the larger Cases de Ca's Garriguer which has 10 large bedrooms - there is also a Bodega (wine cellar) on site.
It's easy enough to pick up traditional Mallorcan cuisine in the village of Valldemossa - try Ca'n Mario (8, Valldemossa +34 971 612 122) or Es Roquissar (Placa de Cartoixa). Just outside Valldemossa is Ca'n Costa which serves local rustic food in a characterful converted mill.
For great fish and seafood, head to the Port de Valldemossa - about seven km from Valldemossa on the coast (the access road is rather narrow & steep so take care when driving down to the port). Here you will find the celebrated Es Port restaurant where you can eat on the terrace overlooking the sea.
For something more contemporary, try the refined restaurant in the Valldemossa Hotel. It offers beautifully presented local dishes with a modern twist.
The main reason to stay in Valldemossa is to enjoy the setting and the countryside. You can admire the views from your sunbed or get out there and explore first hand. There are many well signed posted trails in the hills surrounding Valldemossa for hikers - take a look at our Hiking Section for ideas or ask at the tourist office for maps. Or you can join a guided hike with a local adventure company and benefit from expert knowlegde of the area.
Cycling, horse riding and rock climbing are also popular activities, and there are several golf courses within a short drive.