Arta

November 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

This hilltop town was built on the site of an Arab stronghold; its name is derived from the Arabic word jertan (“garden”). Much of its medieval walls and fortifications have survived to this day. The town’s most interesting structure is the hilltop Santuari de Sant Salvador. It can be reached from the mid 13th-century parish church of Transfiguracia del Senyor via steps (actually a Way of the Cross) shaded by a line of cypresses.

Arta, Majorca

Arta, Majorca

The chapel and its surrounding walls were built during 1825–32. It contains a revered 17th-century statue of the Virgin with Child. The courtyard affords a lovely view of the town’s rooftops.

Environs

Ses Paoses, a short way to the south, is a 3,000-yearold Bronze Age settlement. The remains include fragments of the defence walls and a huge watchtower. Some of the stone blocks weigh about eight tons. The archaeological findings from this site can be seen in Art’s regional museum.

The Ermita de Betlem, about 7 km (4 miles) to the north, is built on a hill. Established in 1805, the tiny church has a number of primitive frescoes.

Capdepera

Towering above the town is a castle. It was built in the 14th century to defend the coast against pirates. At the highest point of the castle stands the Gothic church of Nostra Senyora d’Esperano. The outside stairs lead to a flat roof from which there is a nice view of the town’s terracotta roofscape.

Environs

The Coves d’Arts, regarded as one of Mallorca’s wonders, are situated some 6 km (4 miles) to the south. Two thousand Arabs were found hiding here by Jaume I during the Reconquest. In the 19th century, the caves were studied by a French geologist and became popular with tourists – Jules Verne is said to have written Journey to the Centre of the Earth after visiting them.

JUNIPERO SERRA

Junipero Serra was born in Petra in 1713 and played an important role in the history of the Spanish colonization of North America. In 1749, he left on a mission to Mexico, and later traveled to California, where he established nine missions and sought to convert the native Indians to Christianity. Some of Serra’s missions prospered after his death and became the cities of San Diego, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Francisco. He died in 1784 and was beatified in 1988.

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