Discover the architecture of the Balearic Islands.

The Balearic Islands have always been the most coveted islands in the Mediterranean sea. Visitors fall under the spell of all of them, Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza or Formentera, they are different from each other although they still retain the typical Mediterranean features which make them warm and at the same time exotic.

All this enchantment appears in its architecture, houses with a Roman flavour and many Arabic remains. The soberness of stone is what dominates in Majorca. In Minorca it is the colonial style, and in Ibiza and Formentera it is enchanting white limestone. It is difficult to find islands which have so much wealth and beauty, all of which are open to the sea with the smell of salt in the air, green blinds and white curtains waving in the wind and warmed by chimneys that dominate the houses' interior giving the houses warmth.

For generations, the Balearic Islands have been a popular destination for those who are in pursuit of the sun both in winter and summer. Of course, these islands have attracted thousands of artists who have turned shepherds refuges into architecture studios or the old 'possessions' (large rural mansions) into excellent luxury hotels, etc...

Each of the four islands have their own identity, each island is substantially different from the rest; Majorca has a wide variety of different landscapes all in an area of 3,600 Km2, the area of the Tramuntana mountain range, the Llevant mountain range, the centre of the island known as 'Es Pla' and of course the Majorcan coastline. Minorca's orthography on the other hand is more tenuous divided by hills and fertile valleys on one part of the island and an arid plain on another. Ibiza is made up of hills covered by pine trees, its coast is full of sharp cliffs creating innumerable coves of fine white sand. Finally, Formentera, covered in garrigue vegetation and bushes, is beautiful in its simplicity.

These characteristics are reflected in the architecture. When George Sand lived in Majorca with her musician husband, Chopin, she wrote Neither in Switzerland nor in the Tyrol has such a free and primitive creative aspect been found which has turned out to be so delicious as in Majorca.... In Majorca it flourishes under the influence of kisses from a burning sky and smiles under the gusts from warm winds which caress as they run over the seas.... This description by G. Sand about the intense and varied landscape of the island can also easily be applied to the rural architecture. The rural mansions (possessions) combine the magnificent proportions of palaces or renaissance houses with simplicity and formal liberty of vernacular architecture. The architecture shows a mixture of necessities developed and adapted to historic evolution: self defence, agriculture and the mere representation of wealth; in most cases it produces a fascinating hybrid style where the solidity of the ancient fortresses and the splendour of the great Italian mansions all blend together to produce country houses of simple characters.

Each detail of the houses in the Balearic Islands has been moulded and carved according to the necessity of everyday rural life. Most of the rural stately homes were built by descendants of the Catalonian invading knights after the 12th Century when the old Arabic alqueras were taken over after the island was shared out after the conquest by Jaime I. This is where the mixture of Arabic and Christian came from which gives it that special enchanting, warm Mediterranean character, large patios dominated by the shadow of palm trees and moving water remind us of the Arabic time, but the soberness of stately worked stone give that touch of Christianity to the islands that has grown and evolved since the 12th century until today.

Mediterranean houses, in this case the Balearic ones, are mainly characterised by the plan and location of the large and proud houses, within magnificent landscapes and the interiors of the houses show the warmth which is not obvious going by the serious stately exterior structure. On entering the seriousness stays outside, the inside becomes warm and cosy where calm dominates all the rooms.

Pics :

Toni Pons Barro


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