Mallorca: The Making of the Landscape

Mallorca: The Making of the Landscape

Mallorca: The Making of the Landscape

Mallorca: The Making of the Landscape


The island of Robert Graves, Joan Miro and Archduke Ludwig Salvador has become the most popular holiday destination in the Mediterranean with nearly 10 million visitors a year. Few, however, are aware of the 5000 year history of Mallorca and its resulting landscape featuring late Bronze Age navetes and talayots, Roman cities, and a major medieval trading port with one of Europe's largest cathedrals. Mallorca's landscape has been formed with a pattern of important country houses and enclosed fields, and the relics of major nineteenth century industries including textiles and shoe-making workshops. One hundred and twenty years of tourism, latterly on a massive scale, endangers much of what has gone before. Professor Buswell's pioneering work, based on more than ten years of local research, describes and analyses all these elements that together form the contemporary landscape. Written in an accessible style and well-illustrated with maps and photographs, this book will appeal to student and concerned reader alike and should be read by all who are inquisitive about what they see around them when they visit the island.


This book is the outcome of visiting and living in Mallorca on and off for more than twenty years. Early visits were as a tourist, one of about one and a half million Britons who visited the island annually in the late 1980s. Initially stays were in small hotels or rented villas, but with buying a house longer visits could be contemplated. in the mid-1980s I undertook fieldwork and some more extensive research into the tourist industry. This also enabled me to make contact with Mallorcan geographers and those involved commercially and politically in that industry (Buswell, 1996). More recently this interest in the island’s tourism has resulted in a book (Buswell, 2011). in addition, my interest developed in the urban and regional development processes in the island and in urban conservation, both areas in which I had undertaken research in England, and subjects which the Govern Balear and the Ajuntament of Palma were beginning to develop.

Over the last ten years and with the benefit of longer periods staying in Mallorca, I began to pursue a longstanding interest in the history of the island’s landscape, but soon realised that my knowledge of the processes at work in Mallorca was woefully scant, except to realise that they were not like those operating in England and Wales, with which I was more familiar. What followed was a fairly intense period in the field and in the library, a period of discovery.

I also realised that my situation was probably not very dissimilar to that of thousands of others who visit the island each year, more and more of them not members of the usual package holiday market of the high season. They too must have asked questions about the appearance of the landscape: how it got to be as it is, what kinds of pressures had brought about so many changes; had the high rise hotel and the holiday apartment obliterated previous features? Once they began to travel outside the confines of the beach resort where, regrettably, ‘all-inclusive’ packages corral the holiday-maker even more, they would soon experience the diversity of life and landscape of Mallorca and, if off-season, appreciate that there is a much older and culturally richer Mallorca beneath the veneer of modern coastal tourism. Although there are many histories of the island, few of them seem to deal with these landscape-related questions.

The overseas academic community was also increasing its interest in the island from a whole range of viewpoints. Historians began to familiarise themselves with the archival resources of Mallorca, geographers began to study landforms and environment, sociologists and anthropologists became interested in rural society, archaeologists were tempted by the debates around Bronze Age culture, and that . . .

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