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Valldemossa, nestled in the heart of the Tramuntana mountains, is a pretty little town, famous for two things: Santa Catalina Thomas was born there (who? I hear you cry) and the composer Chopin, who spent a year there with his mistress, George Sand (you´ve heard of Chopin surely). This second fact would most probably have passed into insignificance had Ms Sand not taken the trouble to write a controversial book about their sojourn. Entitled ´A Year in Mallorca´, It is a miserable account of the island, it´s people and their time spent here. Once published, George was never going to win a popularity contest.
Pretty as a post card, 15km north of Palma, at 430m, Valldemossa is Mallorca´s highest village. Best approached from the South, as you head up the mountainous windy road from Palma, you first catch sight of Valldemossa in the valley surrounded by pretty terraced terrain and forest covered mountains. The rustic looking houses are all built out of the same coloured stone; the gardens are manicured and neat. It´s all very authentic and pretty. No high rise buildings here!
The main attraction of Valldemossa is the Carthusian monastery where Chopin and Sands spent (a very cold) winter in 1838/1839. The whole place pays homage to the great Composer and it is possible to take a tour of the monastery and visit the original spartan cell they occupied. During this period, Chopin composed Raindrop Prelude, amongst other great works; Chopin later denied the bad weather was his inspiration.
On display is his actual piano, (he had more than one) which according to aforementioned book was a transportation nightmare getting it to Valldemossa by mule. Original hand written music manuscripts and portraits adorn the walls – and gentle Chopin concertos are played in the background. It’s all very atmospheric and interesting, especially the old apothecary, which was managed by the monks right up to the 20th Century. Pretty ceramic jars and antique glass bottles are still up on the shelves.
Be sure to step out into the walled garden and peek over the wall at the breathtaking views of the valley to the South.
The other big attraction in Valldemossa is King Sancho´s Palace. This beautiful old palace is well worth a visit. Full of antiques, and sumptuous furnishings, small concerts of Chopin´s music are often performed here.
Tickets for both attractions (now sold separately) available from the tourist office in Plaça de la Cartuja Tel 971 612106
Aside from the two main tourist attractions, make sure you take time out to walk around the small town. Valldemossa is full of gift shops, cafes and many restaurants.
Oh and be sure to look out for the tiles of Santa Catalina Thomas which appear to the side of almost all of the front doors of the town. These tiles are reputedly asking for the blessing of the Saint of Mallorca, and are available to buy in the souvenir shops.
On most visitor´s agenda, Valldemossa is well worth a visit. It is extremely busy in high season with coach loads of tourists. It is easily accessible by road, there is plenty of parking when you arrive. It is also possible to take a TIB bus L210 from Palma up to Valldemossa. www.tib.org
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