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North West Majorca Tourism Guide - Deia & Robert Graves

"Tourists are good animals, though they vary according to nationalities. The most easily domesticated, the Majorcans agree, are my English compatriots". (Robert Graves) Deia gained independance fron Valldemossa in 1583, and after this commenced a period of expansion of the terraced area upwards into the mountains, making use of as much land as possible for the planting of the olive trees which now give the hills their silvery green tint. There's no denying it, Deia is one of the most beautiful spots on Majorca. Robert Graves certainly thought so, and his son still writes and lives there.

In the late 1800s visitors first began to arrive in Deia, and since then this beautiful 'back to the sea' village has always been a favourite of artists, writers, musicians and celebrities, for example Archduke Luis Salvador, Manuel de Falla, Santiago Rossinyol, Robert Graves, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mati Klarwein, Kevin Ayers, Pierce Brosnan and the late Princess Diana. Over half of Deia's approximate 700 residents are foreigners. Robert Graves is perhaps the most famous of all ex-pats, but there were others before him, including the likes of D H Lawrence.

Deia

Deia firmly retains it's historic charm. Coaches are not allowed to stop here, and note, parking is limited. Best place to pop the car is in the pay and display carpark down in the cove, and take the half-hour hike back up to the village. Again, Deia's takes it's name from it's Arab origins. 'Ad-daia' means hamlet and again it was the Moors who first cultivated the slopes round these parts, focusing on wine and olives.

The Deia Archaeological Museum and Research Centre

This small, but fascinating museum was founded in 1962 by Dr. William H. Waldren, and is remarkable, not only for it's archaelogical collection, as well as for it's design. The museum is housed in a converted mill, one of the oldest buildings in the medieval village of Deia or Deya. It has been renovated in a way that somehow gives the feeling of the caves where so many of the exhibits were found, while also conveying a sense of spaciousness and light.

All in all this delightful museum is well worth a visit, just go to Deia and from the centre of town head downhill, you can't miss it. While you are in Deia take the time for a stroll, the village is charming.

Balearic Prehistoric Archaeology

There's a feast of archeological activity in this area, and there's been some rather important finds recently, including the uncovering of a pre-historic antelope-gazelle thought to have become extinct 40,000 years ago.

Myotragus Balearicus is the extinct, endemic Pleistocene antelope-gazelle, part of some 1500 specimens of the animal and many thousands of the islands microfauna found in the Cave of Muleta on Mallorca. The animal was thought to have disappeared some 40,000 years ago, like the hairy mammouth, sabre-tooth tiger and cave hyena during the Last Great Glaciation.

Excavations in Muleta and Matge have shown it survived until the coming of humans to the islands around 6000 BC. and became extinct as late as 3000 BC , as a direct and indirect result of the early settlement of the island along with the importation and competition with mainland, domestic species.

The Muleta cave deposit spans some 250,000 years for which there is an unbroken stratigraphical and chronological record that has over 50 levels and 45 dates including Palaeomagnetic, RAA, Uranium Thoriaum and Radiocarbon readings. Check out the American archeologist, William Waldon's web link to the right for further information on other fascinating finds.

Robert Graves Goodbye to All That

Robert Graves was awarded two gold medals for poetry, and one American one he sent back because it wasn't gold. 'When the Spaniards give gold medals they give gold medals'.

Speaking in interview in 1974 Graves talked about the tourists stopping outside his house, pointing him and his house out and then going on their way. Only the Americans, he said, have the audacity to knock on the door. He talked in the interview about his days in Majorca, and spending a lot of time in his garden. If he had something to say, he would sit down and write it. When he wanted to do it. It was Gertrude Stein who put Graves onto Majorca, telling him that Majorca was lovely if you could take it. Obviously Graves could, and except for one spell of absence from the island during the 1930s Spanish revolution, when Majorca became a fascist base, he spent his life there from 1929.

His autobiography, 'Goodbye to All That', which cuttingly ran through the period from before, during and after the First World War, Graves had served in the First World War and came out the other end with a nervous condition and symptoms of shell shock. He left an unhappy marriage and set up home in Majorca with his lover Laura Riding, an American writer - who later left him for another writer. In Majorca Graves worked on perhaps his most famous work, his unorthodox novels of Roman history, I, Claudius (1934) and Claudius the God (1934), as well as fictionalized reappraisals of history and legend such as King Jesus (1946) and Homer's Daughter (1955). The climage, landscape and background of Mallorca must have been a peaceful and ideal backdrop for such topics.

Certainly Graves has brought much notoriety to Deia, and Majorca, and his family still live in Deia. Graves did produce one text on Majorca - 'Mallorca Observed (1954)', and he wasn't too pleased about the continuing tourist invasion. Still, if a few pick up some of his work it all can't be bad. Graves is buried in the village churchyard in Deia. In interview in The Listener on 28th May 1970, Leslie Norris asked Graves about his idea that he wrote for poets - "Do you mean you write poems exclusively for poets, or for people who live as poets do?". Graves responded, "A poet is a person who lives and thinks in a certain way. A poet doesn't necessarily write poems. It is simply an attitude, and there are a great many more poets around than meet the eye. I think about one person in 20 is perhaps a poet. The ones who are not poets expect something of what they think is poetry, which I don't propose to give them. What I write is for people to understand who are on the same, as they say, wavelength as myself. I don't write for an audience at all really: I write for myself. But the audience is presumably there".

Photos of Deia & Robert Graves

Take the Majorca West coast highway to Deia, the stunning C710
Take the Majorca West coast highway to Deia, the stunning C710
West Majorca Landscape scene near Deia
West Majorca Landscape scene near Deia
Wine and Dine on one of Deia's terrace restaurants and bars. Glorious views
Wine and Dine on one of Deia's terrace restaurants and bars. Glorious views
Deia, still charming and unspoilt despite recent commercial attention
Deia, still charming and unspoilt despite recent commercial attention