TOPONOMY OF THE AREA
Also referred to as Port de Manacor, this area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The ruins of the Son Moro naveta and the Sa Gruta site prove this fact. There is also evidence of occupation during the Talayotic, Roman and Muslim periods in the Cave of Drach.
The area has functioned as a port since the roman period (as demonstrated by the discovery of a roman shipwreck). During the Middle Ages, the cove was used to ship grain and provisions, however, there is no evidence that it was used as a port during the following two centuries (the 16th and 17th centuries). This is probably due to North African pirate raids.
At the end of the 19th century, a customs office was established to allow for the export of wine. In addition, a unit of customs policemen (carabineros) was established to prevent smuggling along the coast. During this period, there were weekly shipments between Portocristo and Barcelona, Seta, and Marsella, but the phylloxera aphid crisis, which affected the island in 1891, halted all commercial activity, leading to the closure of the port.
In 1873, a colony was founded in this area called Nuestra Señora del Carmen, which was later named Portocristo. Between 1910 and 1925, this central area began to grow into an important holiday destination.
Tourist activity in the area became prevalent in the last few decades of the 19th century thanks to trips visitors made to the nearby caves.
The name appears to have been given to the town in 1260, the year in which a ship of Italian fishermen reached the coasts of Majorca after a large storm, bringing with them a Crucifix and an image of the Virgin and Child. The place was called “Porto Cristo” due to the promise the fishermen made to give it that name if they arrived there safe and sound. According to legend, that Crucifix is the same one that is venerated at the Dolores de Manacor Church today.
Why choose Som Dona?
The Som Dona Hotel is the first hotel in a vacation destination designed by and for women. It is strategically located on the east coast of Majorca, close to the best beaches in Majorca and just a few metres from the Caves of Drach, one of the main natural attractions on the island consisting of four subterranean caves connected to one another by a spectacular lake created over the course of centuries by the Mediterranean Sea.
PLACES OF INTEREST
The Caves of Drach and the Caves of Hams
These are the two most well-known caves in Majorca and are must-see attractions.
The Caves of Drach are a set of cavities that stretch 1,700 metres in length and are made up of a dozen chambers and six pools, including the Lago Martel, one of the largest subterranean lakes in the world. Evidence shows that the caves have been used by humans since prehistoric times.
The first topographic survey of the caves was completed in 1880. In 1896, the Archduke Luis Salvador funded a scientific expedition, carried out by E.A. Martel, to create a definitive map.
The Caves of Hams were discovered in 1905 by Pere Caldentey, the owner of the land where they are located. Inside the caves, there are several saltwater lakes, such as the Venetian Sea, and a dozen chambers, such as the “Dream of an Angel”, where the stalagmites have formed in curious shapes that appear similar to fishhooks (“hams” in Catalan), which is where the caves get their name.
In addition to these caves, the Coves Blanques are located at sea level at the end of the beach promenade in Porto Cristo. These caves were inhabited until the end of the 19th century by fishermen and were the location of the first town centre.
Forn de Can Munar, Pastisseria Can Roca and Forn Pastisseria Can Terés
These three establishments make the three traditional desserts from the Manacor area: los sospiros (meringue biscuits), los amargos (almond biscuits), and el pastís de pobre (poor man’s cake).
Los sospiros are made with wheat flour, sugar, eggs, cinnamon and lemon zest. Currently, only the Forn de Can Munar makes them according to the original recipe, which has been passed down, generation to generation, over the years.
Los amargos (meaning “the bitter ones” in Spanish) get their name from the fact that they used to be made with bitter almonds. These are only eaten on holidays, such as on Christmas or during the Sant Antoni festivals.
The pastís de pobre, an original treat from the Can Roca de Manacor bakery, gets its name from the simplicity of its ingredients: puff pastry and creme patissiere. It consists of three layers of puff pastry and two layers of cream, topped with burnt egg yolk and with coconut on the sides.
Torre del Serral dels Falcons
Located at the end of the avenida de Joan Servera Camps, the Torre del Serral dels Falcons is a structure that served as a watchtower and defense tower for the area. According to the available information on the tower, it was built very quickly in 1577. After 1693, the tower had two lookouts. By the end of the 18th century, the tower was in utter disrepair. In 1936, it was destroyed during the bombings by Francoist forces. Later, in 1960, the owners of the property reconstructed it.
Excursions in the area
The municipal terminal at Manacor, where Porto Cristo is located, offers visitors the opportunity to go on a variety of excursions, both in the inland area of the municipality, as well as along the coastline.
From Porto Cristo, you can follow the coastline to Cala Morlanda, passing the Sa Ferradura site, located 15 minutes from the departure point. This route, which is a little over 3 km and lasts 1:15 hours, gives you the chance to contemplate some of the most beautiful bays in the area, such as Cala Petita and el Caló den Rafalino.
Other recommended excursions, including this route on bicycle, cover different alternative paths to get to the city of Manacor and to the village of Son Carrió, allowing you to stop at some interesting places along the way. In this case, the journey, a little longer than 29 km, will take 1:40 hours.
Beaches in the area
The Porto Cristo beach has fine sand and is a little over 250 metres long. The beach has all kinds of services (boat rentals, hammocks, restaurants and local shops) and is accessible for individuals with disabilities.
However, if you are looking for peace and quiet, some of the most beautiful virgin beaches in Majorca are located within a 4 km radius, such as Cala Petita, el Caló d’en Rafalino or Cala Murta, all of which are situated in a natural environment.
5 TOP RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PORTOCRISTO AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
- Visit the handicraft market along the Paseo de la Sirena which takes place every Sunday morning.
- Attend the seaside procession for the Virgen del Carmen (16 July).
- Try traditional desserts from the Manacor area.
- Visit the Caves of Drach and enjoy a classical music concert inside.
- Visit some of the small coves in the area.