This municipality lies at the westernmost point of the Tramuntana mountains. To overcome the handicaps of its rugged terrain, settlers were forced to create paths and tracks and to make it generally more habitable. Its coves and harbours also had to be defended due to frequent 16th century pirate raids. It is important to remember that Dragonera island was a hiding place for pirates as terrifying as Barba-rossa (Red Beard) and Dragut. Today’s landscape still conserves the remains of watchtowers, castles, lighthouses and monasteries reminiscent of those difficult times, in addition to harbours, fishermen’s boathouses and mountain passes.
Torre de cala en Basset (Vicenç Sastre)
From Sant Elm Castle to Cala en Basset Tower
In the fishing village of Sant Elm (1), a hospital and chapel were built on a hillock overlooking En Gemec cove, with the subsequent construction of a defensive tower in the early 14th century. In 1886, Archduke Ludwig Salvator added them to his properties.
From the village’s coastline, differing views of Es Pantaleu and Dragonera islands can be seen. A boat departs from Es Mollet for those wishing to visit Sa Dragonera (2), now a nature reserve owned by the Consell de Mallorca thanks to pressure by ecologist groups. Visitors can appreciate its natural and historical heritage by taking three routes across the island: Llebeig lighthouse and tower; Tramuntana lighthouse and a magnificent track called Camí des Far Vell; or another track called Camí de na Pòpia. Setting off from Sant Elm’s S’Algar district and walking along the Camí de Can Tomeuí and Camí de Cala en Basset roads, you come to Cala en Basset tower (3), a strategically located monument dating back to 1583.
Castell de Sant Elm (M. A. Escanelles)
From S’Arracó to La Trapa
S’Arracó valley (1) was initially the site of a few farmsteads. It was not until the 16th century that a village, set around a chapel, grew up. Today S’Arracó features examples of Modernist architecture, built by wealthy émigrés on their return home. Travelling toward the cemetery and Coll de Sa Palomera pass, you can take the old road across the Coll des Cairats pass, followed by a track that climbs upwards called Camí de la Trapa. Once the pass of the same name has been crossed, you reach Sant Josep valley, where Trappist monks fleeing from the French Revolution founded a modest monastery in 1810 that was finally abandoned. La Trapa estate (2), which belongs to the GOB ecologist group, stands out for its big hillside terraces, a qanat (an underground gallery carrying water supplies) and well, open water supply channels and irrigation ponds used by the monks to farm part of the land. Restoration work is currently being carried out on them. The estate still features the remains of charcoal furnaces, lime kilns, plots of threshing floors and a fascinating animal-driven flour mill. Today it is a natural paradise for hikers.
La Trapa (Vicenç Sastre)