The Puig de Maria sits overlooking the town of Pollensa in the north-east of the island of Mallorca.
The hill is a prominent feature in the landscape of the area and its monastery, the ‘Santuari de la Mare de Déu del Puig’ peeks out from the treetops watching over the town below and coaxing any curious traveller to make the ascent. Being one such curious traveller, I set out from Pollensa one afternoon to see what the climb had to offer.
Leaving Pollensa, the trail is easy enough to find simply following the signpost to the Puig de Maria which leads off the main road (Ma-2200). From here there is a single path to follow which leads all the way to the top. The climb itself is relatively short at just over 2km and can be happily negotiated in around 45 minutes. The first part of the walk is up a narrow mountain road, steep in places, with trees offering shade and relief from the sun most of the way, later becoming a rustic cobbled path which spans the last ten minutes to the summit.
Arriving at the top, you will find that the small monastery and chapel and their surroundings offer a pleasant stop off for a breather and some lunch. Construction on the site first began in 1348 with the majority of the buildings dating to the 15th Century. Their principle use over the years has been as a pilgrim church before turning to their current use as a hostel following the departure of the last nuns in 1988.
The hostel provides bar and restaurant facilities for visitors looking to buy refreshment, whilst the area around the monastery is great for picnickers with dedicated picnic tables and barbecuing facilities available. The restaurant serves a small range of local dishes including Pa amb Oli, local seafood and a selection of more well-known dishes which will keep the kids happy. Accommodation in the hostel is basic but, at €22 per night for a twin room, offers a superb opportunity to experience historic tranquillity and unrivalled views for those less concerned by luxury.
As aesthetically pleasing as the monastery is in itself, it's the panoramic views overlooking the surrounding countryside which, for me, were the real highlight of this trip. Once you emerge from the thickest of the trees which cover the hillside, the town of Pollensa with its prominent landmarks opens out before you, set against the backdrop of the Tramuntana Mountains. To the south-east, in the distance lies the town and bay of Alcudia and to the north-east the glinting waters of Port de Pollensa and the Mediterranean beyond.
However, the best and least obstructed views of the port can be seen a little lower down the Puig than the summit. Shortly before arriving at the monastery, there is a path that forks off to the left (this path is slightly less established than the cobbles but still easy to follow) which will lead you round to a small ruin. Here you find yourself outside of the treeline and can enjoy the vista in all its glory.
Despite the steepness of the climb in places, its length means that it is suitable for all ages and well within the capability of children. It is possible to drive a certain distance up the ascent to the point where the road turns to cobble. However, this is a very tricky drive with very limited parking so I would suggest walking is favourable.
All-in-all, this is a great activity offering views, history and a bit of exploration; a great way to fill an afternoon!
- Hiking / Walking