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It is easy to fall in love with Banyalbufar; even the journey there is beautiful, along the serpentine stretches of the winding Ma-10 road,
and what greets visitors is a taste of old Majorca.
As with the other destinations on this site, a detailed version of the route from Palma, complete with links to maps where appropriate, is available from the Route Map link on the left hand frame of this page.
Although surrounded by the soaring peaks of the Sierra Tramuntana, which dominates the western coast of Mallorca, the villages, hamlets and farms that make up the area are all nestled around four smaller mountains, of which Mola is de Planícia is the highest at 942 metres.
The majority of the local population live in the absolutely charming little terrace community of Banyalbufar village, although much smaller populations also live in the nearby villages of Son Coll and Port des Canonge.
The unusual name for the town originates from two different components: "banya" and "bahar" - banya derives from the name of a Moorish settlement established on the island in the 10th Century, whereas bahar probably derives from the Catalan word, "la mar", or "sa mar"’ (meaning "the sea"), or possibly from the Latin "juxta mare" ("by the sea"). The original Moorish meaning of Banyalbufar is, therefore, "founded by the sea".
After the Christian conquest of the island in the 13th Century, the area came under the control of a practically absolutist government in the shape of the Barony of Banyalbufar. The Baron maintained civil and criminal jurisdiction over the entire population, a situation that lasted right up until the 15th Century.
Banyalbufar village was once a vineyard and the terraces that the village is built on were once devoted exclusively to the production of the local Malvasier wine. The wine was apparently highly favoured by the King of Aragorn and legend has it that ready access to supplies was a primary reason in his decision to invade Majorca!
The terracing around the town is the most characteristic feature of Banyalbufar and is known as the "marjades" (stepped slopes) and around 2,000 of these steps stagger the land all the way down to the Mediterranean below. Although there are moves to reintroduce grape production to the area, tomatoes and vegetables have largely replaced grapes as the main crop.
However, despite the crop changing, the fields are still watered by aqueducts, just as they have been for centuries, which divert vital cost-free water from the mountains. Dry stone walls, constructed by the Moors from the stones in the fields, halt the flow of water and channel it into numerous water basins, which in turn feed the water through a series of pipes to the fields below. Most of this network actually originates from the Arabic period and it is impressive to think that this ingenious system was engineered so long ago.
Popular with visitors to the island, Banyalbufar village has slipped easily into the role of a tourist destination, but has lost none of its old fashioned charm and beauty. However, its popularity recently led to controversy when a huge new car park was built to accommodate the ever increasing numbers of visiting cars. Many argued that this was an ugly and unwelcome addition to the old Majorcan architecture of the village, but the plus side has been that the beautiful old streets are no longer clogged with cars.
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