The Camí des Correu, the centuries long Post Road passes through the western mountain range of Mallorca, the Tramuntana Sierra, connecting Esporles which lays in a closed valley of the mountains with Banyalbufar which lays in a closed bay of the seashore.
The bizarre Bearn or A manor house in Mallorca by Llorenç Villalonga describes in relief how much locked up and solitary these Mallorcan villages can be. Banyalbufar, founded by 9th-century Arabic conquerors turned away from the sea, became peasant, and instead of sailing it is cultivating the terraces fixed on the slopes of the mountains. Esporles, founded by 13th-century Catalan conquerors, has a mountain stream running down towards Palma, but the villagers never follow it to where their ancestors came from. However, perhaps because even they cannot bear this extent of solitude, these two ends of the world connected at least each other with a mountain path which until the 20th century, when the red asphalt road was built in the valley, was daily covered there and back by a messenger with the post. It is the green route.
The steep path soon arrives from Esporles to Sa Granja – “the Manor.” After the Catalan conquest of 1229 this Arabic holding became a Cistercian monastery and later a nobleman’s estate what it has remained to the present day. Its Arabic origins, however, are clearly indicated by its principal spectacle, applied in Arabic architecture both in Mallorca and in other regions whenever it can do: the water. In front of the manor house, the spring water led down from the mountains springs ten meters high. Just like in Isfahan where a similar water-jet springs up from the middle of the river, thus boasting with the supreme treasure of the town which some kilometers later is lost in the desert.
The Manor is still functioning. A part of it has been opened to visitors, and you are encouraged to watch it in a short film here. Although wild goats abound in the island, nevertheless these ones below belong to the manor.
The road climbs steeply uphill: four hundred meters of level difference on ten kilometers, up, and then down. Two and half hours, comfortably three. But at the end you also have to walk back, because the autobus from Banyalbufar is unpredictable. And the way is even steeper from that direction, climbing up from the sea. And for a good while there is no shadow, at least until you reach the forest after the terraces.
The dichotomy of the Communist regime in my native Hungary included that while we went on excursions quite a lot of times both at home and in the neighboring Socialist countries, we never thought of doing the same in the West. We were allowed to go out there for two weeks in every three year, and could only officially change a hundred German marks (a little less than eighty dollars) for our costs. So this few time and money we reserved for big cities, museums and books, and never for mountains. Although since the change of regime at the end of the 1980’s we have made a lot of excursions in the West too, nevertheless until today I feel it a great luxury there what in the East is just as natural as water.
The road is flanked by old lime-kilns. A short Catalan summary on Mallorcan lime-burning can be found here. Even the picture of this former lime-kiln is included.
The road is sometimes made more difficult by such walls of dry masonry – a Mallorcan speciality – for holding back the cattle. Nevertheless the ladder is put there for the postman.
As we approach the Son Sanutges peak, the horizont slowly opens up. That solitary rock in the sea is also seen by the small lime tree.
As the road begins to descend, we catch sight of the first terraces of Banyalbufar. The system of these terraces and of the water reservoirs and channels encompassing them were built by the Arabs during several centuries. A great part of them are in use even today.
We descend among olive groves into the town of five hundred inhabitants.