For a Majorca base ideal for exploring both the Serra De Tramuntana mountains on foot or cycling, plus the striking jagged West Coast and other smaller centres like Deia, - Soller and the Port of Soller are the perfect choice. Soller is in a valley, hence it's nickname 'Valle de los Naranjos (Valley of the Oranges), and well sheltered by the Alfabia mountain massif, with the enormous 4740 foot Puig Major always visible. Easy to get to, it's only 7 miles north east of Deia. Within Soller, as far as museums and attractions go it's a bit thin, however the spot is scenic with the mountains jutting up in the background and ample cafes, bars and restaurants in the centre. You can take the 'toytown' train from Palma or alternatively driving their is pretty easy now with the two and a half mile tunnel from Palma to Soller. This is a particularly popular attraction in Majorca, so expect it to be crowded in peak summer season!
Before the tunnel Soller was a bit of a remote place in Majorca, difficult to get to and fairly isolated. Residents did rather well out of their citrus trade, Soller and surrounds are covered in orange and other fruit groves, and forged trade relationships with Barcelona and France. This brought considerable wealth to the area in the 19th and 20th centuries. Soller comes from the Arab word Suliar which means golden bowl. It was the Arabs in the late 8th century who built the canals and irrigation ditches in Soller, which by extension fed into the orange and olive groves. Soller has a very strong link with France. Check out Port de Soller as well, with it's attractive harbour, ample bars, cafes and restaurants, attractive harbour, two beaches and a lighthouse. There's some great scuba diving to be had as well off Port de Soller! Shopping in Soller, particularly for arts and crafts, is also superb.
Head for Placa Constitucio, the lively and bustling main square in Soller. It's a most attractive square in which to relax, with a surround of mature trees, a few fountains and lots of great people watching cafe bases. Adjacent to the square is the spectacular church of Sant Bartomeu, open to the public from 10.30am-1pm, 2.45-5.15pm Mon-Thurs, 10.30am-1pm Friday and Saturday. It's free on Friday and Saturday! A prodigy of Gaudi, Joan Rubio I Bellver, worked on this church after he came over from Barcelona with Gaudi in 1902. The church facade is Rubio's work, as well as the Banco Central Hispano next to the church - note the twisted iron grille here. Rabio's own house is also here and this is well worth a look, with it's external iron spiral staircase and more ironwork.
It's walking, especiallly out of season in the winter months, that Soller and it's surrounding mountains and countryside are famous for. The main peaks around Soller are the Puig Mayor (1445m), Massanella (1340m), and L'Ofre (1080m). The range offers magnificent scenery and plenty of Majorca hiking and cycling opportunities.
For bike hire and walking tours, seek out Tramuntana Tours in Soller, who give you the chance to explore the region by offering you a range of walking and cycling excursions. Choose from their wide range of popular guided hikes, or we can tailor make one to suit your requirements. They offer cycling excursions with on the roads, or off the beaten track in the mountains. All necessary equipment including your own guide is provided. Your can rent some superb moutain bikes from here, including Corratec Race Tech Hydro 3s, and Specialized Hardrock Sport. They have the latest 2005 race and mountain bikes available for hire.
"Calle de la Luna, 72 - Sóller 07100 - Mallorca Tel: (+34) 971 632423"
This is prime walking territory, and many walking guidebooks are available in bookshops and so forth in Soller. Try the gentle and popular 'Cami del Rost' walk that leads from Soller through the hills to Deia past the fincas of S'Heretat, Ca'n Prohom and Son Coll. The views of Lluc-Alcari are superb on this walk, and it's only about 8km and takes approximately 2 to 3 hours. The trail starts just across the road from the petrol station on the outskirts of Sollerr. 'Guia de Soller' by Placid Perez is a definitive guide to Soller and it's surrounding choice of walks, available in most bookshops in Soller.
The Balearic Museum of Natural Sciences in Soller is dedicated to the study, conservation, and nature within the Balearic islands. It was founded in 1992 and is housed in a mansion that was built in 1900, 'El Camp d'en Prohom'. The Botanical Gardens of Soller occupy what used to be the garden.
Both the Balearic Museum of Natural Sciences and Botanical Gardens in recent years have seen the realisation of investigatory projects in the fields of: biodiversity, conservation, vegetable reproduction, florsticology and corology of Balearic plants, faunisticology and taxonomy of invertebrates, geological mapping, and environmental documentation. There have also been several educational programmes which have proved to be vey popular. The Museu Balear de Ciencies Naturals has different programmes for schools that range from guided tours around the museum and the garden to workshops about nature sciences.
Permanent exhibitions include the History of Natural Sciencies in the Balears. The most important naturalists from the Balears ranging from the Enlightening movements to the present day. Check out the Palaeontology exhibitions with many fossils. The Museum holds its own exhibitions as well as exhibitions organised by other institutions. The last exhibitions held have been Guillem Colom. Nature and Science and 300 million years of history of Majorca.
The spectacular and rugged Tramuntana mountain range runs for about 60 miles along the Majorcan coastline from La Dragonera in the southwest to Formentor in the northeast. The main peaks include the Puig Mayor (1445m), Massanella (1340m), and L'Ofre (1080m). The range offers magnificent scenery and plenty of hiking and cycling opportunities.
Check out Tramuntana Tours for cycle hire and guided tours.
Centred in the heart of the Tramuntana range, Soller is a great base from which to explore the surrounding countryside. It is also the starting point for most walking and cycling guided tours. The hiking excursions vary from 2 hour strolls in the Soller valley, to all day mountain treks on some of Majorca's lesser-known trails. Routes covered in tours offered, for example from Trauntana Tours include Soller to Tuent and Sa Calobra, Cuber to Biniaraix via the Barranc, Torrent de Pareis and Deia as well as many others.
Experienced cyclists visiting Majorca may well take on the Puig Mayor and other demanding cycling routes in the North and West of Mallorca. There are many cycle renting shops in and around Soller, and cycling in this area of Majorca is particularly recommended off season in cooler late Spring or early Autumn!
Sa Mostra the International Folklore Festival of Soller, was founded by the 'Aires Sollerics' and has been uniting folklore groups every July from all over the world since 1980. The festival lasts for a week, and while the main events are the public performances of the groups involved, there are also many sessions of cultural interchange between groups, and with the public. Groups come from all over the world to take part in this popular and internationally renowned event.
To conserve the endemic, rare or endangered plant species of the Balearics, and of other Mediterranean islands and their area of influence. To instruct and educate school-children and adults, through collections of live plants, exhibitions, photographic contests, lectures, monographic publications, didactic material such as posters, and leaflets. Research into the biology of conservation, the reproductive biology of wild species of plant, horticulture, and gardening. Collection of medicinal plants from those most commonly used in today's pharmacopeia, to those best known for having formed part of medical lore throughout history.
Fresh water marshlands are highly specific habitats in the Balearics. When water becomes dammed up, duckweed, (Lemma minor), soon appears, and if there is a considerable amount of running water, other species appear such as bulrush (Typha angustifolia), yellow flag iris, (Iris pseudacorus), two types of sedge (Cladium mariscus) and (Carex hipida) water plantain (Alisma plantago-aquatica). On the other hand, when the soil is humid but the water level fluctuates, bulrushes, mints appear, and in some isolated places in the Serra de Tramuntana one gets the Majorca endemism Hypericum hircinum var.cambessedesii.
Opening times are Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays and public holidays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Mondays and Chrismas Day, New Year's Day, Epiphany (25 December, 1 and 6 of January) and Easter Sunday.
Fundacio Jardi Botanic de Soller, Crta. Palma - Soller, km. 30,5. Apartat de Correus 44, E-07100 Soller (Mallorca), Spain. Tel: 971.634014
Soller, as well as it's citrus fruits, is also renowned for it's olives. Love olives and olive oil? Head for Ca'n Det! Ca'n Det is one of the few fincas in the valley of Soller still dedicated both to the growing of oranges and olives as well as the extraction of olive oil, activities which in the past brought prosperity to the area.
The olive oil press at Ca'n Det is one of the three remaining mills of its kind in Mallorca, and it is still in the hands of the founders decendants, and was mentioned in the town registry of the 16th century. Today the oil press continues working, using the traditional method using the original millstones, wicker mats and hydraulic press.
The process starts with the washing of the olives after which they are ground by the millstones, the resulting mash is then laid on a wicker mat which is then pressed hydraulically. The liquid obtained is poured into small stone containers in which, due to the different densities, the olive oil and the water seperate. In the final phase the oil is centrifuged so as to free it of any impurities, and left to settle in underground reservoirs until it is bottled. Ca'n Det's Olive press is open to those who would like to visit it or purchase some of its olive oil. Pre-booking your visit is recommended.
Explotacions agricoles Can Det S.L., Ozonas, 8. 07100 Soller. Tel: 971 630303
Port de Soller on the coast, just two and a half miles, from Soller, has a rather grainy Spanish feel about it with it's rather attractive harbour and family friendly atmosphere. There's cliffs on either side of the bay, with a navel base to the north, and a two sandy beaches. The citrus fruit trade operates out of this harbour, and as you'd expect there's an interesting history behind the area, involving pirates and invasions!
One such invasion involved the destruction of the port in 1561 by a pirate attack, so they built vast stone jetties and lighthouses to protect it. Here in Port de Soller they re-enact a good old Moors versus Christians battle in the second week of every May, bolstered by plenty of alcohol.
The tramline stretches conveniently right down to the port, harbour and many bars and restaurants. Platja d'en Repic beach is on the western side of the bay and you can take a walk upto the lighthouse from there, to discover glorious views at the top.
Fancy a bit of Scuba Diving off Port de Soller? Check out the Octopus Scuba Diving Centre in Port de Soller. They offer a selection of diving choices, including diving lessons, and diving boat trips. They operate in many superb diving spots on Mallorca's northwest coast. Most offer an impressive visibility range, often around 30mts, lots of caverns with spectacular lightgames, ideal for the UW Photo & Video, and all the Mediteranean flora & fauna. Expect to see moray eels, silver fish, groupers, red coral, and of course octopus. Dive spots include Na Foradada, Cova Blava, Es Cavall, Cova d'es Pintor, Es Joncar and many others. Centro de Buceo Octopus, 07108 Port de Soller, Mallorca, Spain. Tel./Fax: (+34) 971633133.