Traditionally Bunyola has acted as a link between Palma and the Tramuntana mountains. Age-old roads all converge here from Sóller, Orient, Valldemossa and Palma. The mountains have been used as meadowlands for royal hunts and by suppliers of wood, charcoal, stone and ice. Long stretches of olive groves and livestock pasturelands belonging to big estates like Alfàbia, Biniforani, s’Alqueria d’Avall, Es Cocons, Raixa, Son Amar and Son Muntaner all helped to boost the nobility’s large fortunes. The houses’ architecture and their orchards, kitchen gardens and stately ornamental gardens all highlight the financial advantage that could be made of these estates in combination with their enjoyment as homes for leisure purposes during the modern age.
Detalle de la escalinata de Raixa (Vicenç Sastre)
Raixa & Alfàbia
Originally an Islamic farmstead, Raixa (1) is now an item of cultural interest and it has been transformed into a public interpretation centre. The estate house was built at the entrance of Raixa valley, where a complex water supply network was made featuring one of Mallorca’s biggest irrigation ponds. The estate owes its past splendour to Cardinal Antoni Despuig, who decided to transform it into an Italian villa in the 17th century, surrounded by gardens featuring an orange grove, gallery garden and kitchen garden. A spectacular staircase can still be seen, decorated with sculptures.
Alfàbia (2), which stands at the meeting point of the Biniforani and Verger valleys, receives its water supplies from Es Verger, Na Rupit and Alfàbia springs, used to power flour mills. The big 17th and 18th century estate was built on the site of an Islamic farmstead. Its gardens–now an item of cultural interest–feature fountains, avenues, pergolas with hydrias, water tanks, trees and kitchen gardens, set against a backdrop of Baroque architecture.
Jardín de Alfàbia (Vicenç Sastre)
Although it may have been Islamic in origin, Aurient was first documented as existing in the 13th and 14th centuries. Declared an item of historical heritage (or BIC in Spanish), the hamlet is strategically situated on a hill in the middle of Orient valley. At the entrance to the hamlet, on the road from Alaró (the MA-2100), is an estate house known as Cals Reis (1), with an enclosed courtyard that still features an old olive oil press. At the back of them is a fountain, public washing place and wayside cross.
Sant Jordi square stands at the top of a steep hill, presided over by the church (2). Leading off from it are narrow streets, lined with rustic-looking buildings. After a period of decline, the hamlet has been repopulated. Next to the church is Son Palou, an old estate house with a restored olive oil press. Alaró castle and village can be reached along an alternative route, the 221-G, or through s’Escaleta pass, while the Camí de Coanegra road leads to Santa María.
Orient (Agustí Torres)