Artà – absolutely charming
Artà – situated in the north-east of Majorca about 70 kilometres from the capital Palma – greets travellers from a distance. It’s a real jaw-dropper when you see the impressive fortress with the pilgrimage church of Sant Salvador inside it, watching protectively over the town. Visitors with stamina go to take a close look at these dignified buildings with their ochre-coloured walls, trudging their way up the Way of the Cross, which is lined with cypresses and stone crosses. You have to climb 180 steps. The locals call it calvario or calvari – depending on whether they prefer to speak Spanish or Catalan. Both are official languages in Majorca.
Above the rooftops of Artà
In any case, the climb is worth the effort as the reward follows immediately. It is a truly beautiful view over the rooftops of Artà, the mountains, the sea, and the almond and olive trees. You can then head back down at your leisure, past the parish church of Transfiguració del Senyor, which lies beneath the citadel.
Everything nicely interwoven
Traffic calming has been employed to a large extent in the centre of Artà. This includes the shopping street of Carrer Antoni Blanes with its boutiques, gourmet shops, supermarkets, small cafés and modern restaurants. The main square is the Plaça del Conqueridor, where a weekly market is always held on Tuesdays. Besides fruit, vegetables, flowers, household items and clothing, you’ll find the typical Artà basketwork.
The town has a long-standing tradition of basket weaving, with generations of Majorcan women having crafted baskets and bags from the sun-dried leaves of the native fan palm (which they call garballó). Basket weaving is one of the oldest handicrafts in Majorca. These robust basket bags are of high quality. They give years of dutiful service, even when loaded to the brim – an almost indestructible assistant for your shopping. There is a shop called Espartería Josep Bernat Perelló (found at C/.Antoni Blanes 21) that’s still very traditional and you’ll find a selection of these bags hanging there and covering the shelves. By the way, they also have shoes and hats…
Theatre, dance and DJ sounds
Artà Theatre takes centre stage every year, not only with a classical music festival, but also the Cool Days Festival, which brings together young Spanish musicians, DJs and theatre producers. The Casa de Cultura de na Batlessa (a 19th-century stately home) is where you’ll find the town library, which houses documents pertaining to the works of the internationally successful, contemporary Majorcan painter and sculptor Miquel Barceló. This exceptionally talented artist from Felanitx not only impressively designed St Peter’s (Petrus) chapel in the cathedral in Palma, the capital of Majorca; his work can also be found outside of Spain. In the Palais des Nations – the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, for example.
Town life meets beach atmosphere
If you wanted to get a sense of what life is like in Artà – perhaps you’re toying with the idea of getting a property in Majorca – you could just have a sojourn in one of the classy boutique hotels. Maybe the colourful Hotel Palacio Sant Salvador with its large courtyard. With sunny weather and excellent food, you could get used to it. The town atmosphere and beach experience can make the perfect combination. Artà municipality includes various bays, having 25 kilometres or so of coastline. So you are never far from beautiful beaches such as the Cala Mesquida, Cala Torta and the small Playa S’Arenalet, nestled into the pristine landscape.
Intriguing original inhabitants
Around one kilometre south-east of Artà, inquisitive explorers of all ages will eventually come across the ancient settlement of Ses Païsses, which is about 3,000 years old. The original inhabitants of Majorca, the Talayots, once lived there. Hands-on archaeology! Surviving to this day are a four-metre-high, round watchtower (called a talaia) as well as the remains of various buildings and walls that were built using up to eight tons of heavy stone. That the people of that time managed to move these massive megalithic blocks is both astonishing and admirable.