Sant Llorenç

María del Mar Bonnet: De Santanyí vaig partir (I’m going to leave Santanyí) From the album Saba (1979)

In contrast to its name – and to the Trinitat of Valldemossa – the Ermita de Sant Llorenç has never been a hermitage. It was built as a chapel in the 13th century – first mentioned in the documents in 1274 – on the most important point of Mallorca’s northwestern corner, on the triple forks * where the road coming from the sanctuary and pilgrimage site of Lluc through the pass of the Escorca begins to descend through steep serpentines to the narrow bays of Tuent in the west and of Sa Calobra in the north

View Mallorca, Ermita de Sant Llorenç in a larger map

This is a unique point to keep an eye on the entire beach and to give news just in time about the frequent appearance of Arabic, Genoese, Pisan or French pirate ships. Not much above the sanctuary, on a five hundred feet high cliff and about the same distance from the seashore there is still standing the watchtower of Sa Mola de Tuent, responsible not so much for the protection of the two little fishing villages of Tuent and Sa Calobra – their inhabitants anyway slept in the forest at night so they would not suffer a sudden pirate attack – but rather for that of the road leading to the rich sanctuary of Lluc.

The chapel used to be the church of the two villages. Joan and Vicenç Sastre, the tourist-illustrator-photograph brothers of Palma write in their fantastic album of tours, the two-volume Mallorca vora mar. Marines de Tramuntana (Mallorca along the coasts. The seashore of the Western Mountains) published by our friend J. J. Olañeta, the best publisher in Palma, that on every Sunday the inhabitants of Tuent used to sit at the side of the Gospel (to the right seen from the altar) while those of Sa Calobra at the side of the epistles, as if the mountain ridge separating the two settlements stretched invisibly between the two rowlines of seats (as in fact it was more or less the case).

The chapel, however, was never seen open even by Wang Wei. Today, as the believers in the two villages can reach the magnificent monastery church of Lluc in less than twenty minutes by car, the chapel is closed throughout the year. Only on the day of its patron saint, the 10th of August they celebrate a festive ceremony here. But who has the strength to come on the hottest week of the year to Mallorca and to climb the Coll de Sant Llorenç?

Behind the church, a fifteen-minute walking path descends between lemon and olive trees to the little hamlet of Sa Calobra standing in a deep valley of the Escorca. The village was already included in the Llibre de Repartiment, “The book of division” of 1232 in which they fixed the ownership of the estates in the island conquered just three years earlier from the Arabs. This settlement together with the neighboring valley was received by the brave Catalan soldier Raphal Calobra, and since then it bears his name.

The village is so small that its six houses are not numbered but rather referred to by name: Can Penya, Can Maite Vell, Can Maite Nou, Cas Puput, Can Termes, Can Marrai. A hundred yards farther up the mountainside there is the seventh house, Can Pau built around a medieval watchtower and its courtyard.

During the next blossom of lemon we will walk about this valley. This time, however, we descend the other way to the bay of Tuent, where according to the 18th-century ballad “such was the hunger that they ate a dog.” The ballad, however, exaggerates. As you will see, the dog is in good health.

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