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Cabrera: a day in paradise

31/05/2021

A mere ten kilometres from Cap de Ses Salines, and very close to our Inturotel hotels on Mallorca, lies the Cabrera archipelago, a genuine unspoilt paradise in the midst of the Mediterranean that has been a Maritime-Terrestrial National Park since 1991, because of the wealth of flora and fauna it contains. How would you like to visit it with us?

When you visit Cabrera, keep your camera at the ready at all times, because it is highly likely that you will catch a glimpse of dolphins, turtles, cormorants, ospreys and Iberian wall lizards (podarcis lilfordi, the characteristic lizard of the Balearic Islands).

 

Fauna: Did you know that the waters of Cabrera are home to the greatest diversity of fish in the entire Mediterranean? In total more than 200 species, as well as molluscs, crustaceans, sea birds, reptiles, mammals... An outstanding feature of Cabrera’s fauna is the large colonies of seabirds: Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), the European storm-petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii)…

The seabed around Cabrera is rich in both vertebrates and invertebrates, like colourful nudibranchs. Groupers are typical, as are octopi and Mediterranean morays (Muraena helena)...

 

 

 

But in addition, these waters are a sanctuary for larger animals, such as common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melaena), sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta).

 

 

 

The noble pen shell (Pinna nobilis), one of the largest bivalves in the Mediterranean (up to 2 metres), can live for up to 50 years, and is an endemic species whose main habitat is the Posidonia oceanica meadows. A high rate of mortality has been recorded in noble pen shell populations since 2016, due to a parasitic disease that has brought them to the brink of extinction. Thanks to thousands of calls reporting sightings, we have at least five survivors on the islands. Three of them have been moved to the Cabrera National Park and are protected by cages to prevent the usual predators of Pinna nobilis, like the octopus or the gilthead bream, from eating them. Will they survive? We certainly hope so.

 

Flora: More than 500 species of vascular plants, 22 species of moss, 21 of lichens and 162 of seaweed co-exist in Cabrera! Some of the more striking species are Balearic Island buckthorn (Rhamnus ludivici-salvatoris) or the Balearic peony (Paeonia cambessedessi).

 

 

The island of Cabrera has been uninhabited since it was declared a National Park in 1991, except for the rotating shifts of the staff who manage the park. Previously, it was inhabited by several Mallorcan families who made a living from fishing and farming.

Today the island is a sublime destination for engaging in activities in nature’s heart, such as snorkelling, diving (a permit must be obtained in advance), hiking (always on the marked paths), birdwatching… or simply breathing and relaxing in an atmosphere from a bygone age.

 

 

Several boat companies in the nearby Colònia de Sant Jordi will take you to Cabrera, on a pleasant sea voyage lasting one hour. A trip to Cabrera implies staying on the island for the whole day, and as well as enjoying the island’s idyllic beaches or discovering its fertile sea bed, there are many more things to do there!

 

You can visit the highest point of the island, where the 16th-century castle stands, built to protect the island from the Berber pirates who came from North Africa with the aim of putting in at Cabrera and using it as a base from which to attack Mallorca. It has been destroyed and reconstructed on several occasions throughout history. The worst destruction took place in 1550, when the Turks attacked.

Don’t miss the chance to view the island’s beaches and scenery from the top of this imposing vantage point!

 

Cabrera also offers visitors a botanic garden, an ethnographic and historical museum and a small bar in the port (which looks like something out of a novel – a refreshing drink in the shade of its grapevine is an absolute must). As for beaches, there are several to choose from, ranging from the sandy to the very fine stone variety, and even some located at the foot of the spectacular cliffs.

But without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight is Sa Cova Blava (the “Blue Cave”), formed by calcareous rock. When the evening sun falls on the water in the cave, it gives rise to a spectacle of light that lends a magical blue tone to the sea. A “zen” experience that you will take away with you as a lifelong memory.

 

 

If you aren’t up for the boat trip but still want to find out more about Cabrera and the seabed around it, one great alternative is to visit the Cabrera Interpretation Centre-Aquarium in Sa Colònia de Sant Jordi, which is just 40 minutes away from your Inturotel hotel in Cala d’Or.

 

When you reach your Inturotel hotel on Mallorca, the reception staff will be delighted to supply you with all the information you need to enjoy your unforgettable trip to Cabrera to the full. Happy adventuring!

 

Some sites of interest:

www.balearsnatura.com

caib espais protegits

www.mma.es/parques

 

 

 

 

Blog

Live the spirit of Christmas in Mallorca
15/12/2021
Live the spirit of Christmas in Mallorca
In our villages (as in many places across Europe) the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season is upon us. The lights are lit, Nativity scenes are being finished off, choirs are rehearsing their carols, bakeries are preparing the traditional cocas and turrones, and you can sense the children’s excitement… Christmas in Mallorca means celebrating with family and friends and enjoying the little things in life like our traditional food, long conversations at the table after eating, lovely walks in the countryside, relaxing by the crackling fire, getting the house ready for receiving guests and sharing gifts, giving happiness, love, companionship, smiles, serenity… in other words, good times that will become memories to be treasured forever. We want to share with you some of our favourite traditions from this time of year.      A Legendary Nativity Scene The Nativity scene, manger scene or crib has its origins in the Middle Ages. The first Christmas celebration where there was a Nativity scene took place on Christmas Eve in 1223, when Saint Francis of Assisi decided to recreate Jesus’s birth in a cave near the hermitage at Greccio (Italy).     Mallorca is home to the oldest Nativity scene in Spain. The beautiful crib scene dates from 1480 and has been attributed to the Neapolitan sculptors, Pietro and Giovanni Alamanno. At the time Naples was the birthplace of this craft. The cities of Palma and Naples share a common history that goes back to the thirteenth century, which is when the story of this ancient Nativity scene began.   Its Gothic sculptures are from a period in which cribs were only depicted in the form of paintings or altarpieces. It consists of 15 original pieces: Saint Joseph, the Virgin Mary, the sheep, the dogs and a pair formed by the ox and donkey. The remaining pieces were added in later periods.      There is an aura of legend around the arrival of the Nativity scene on the island. Hanging next to the chapel where the Nativity is now displayed there is a painting, now almost blackened with time, but which at one time depicted a boat, which serves as a clue. The chronicler, Francisco Bordoy, describes how in 1536 Captain Domingo Gangome was lost with his ship in the middle of a great storm opposite the Bay of Palma. In his desperation, he promised God that he would give one of the seven Nativity scenes that he was carrying on board to whomever helped him reached land. Just then he saw a small light twinkling in the darkness. It came from the monastery of Our Lady of the Angels of Jesus.     This celestial lighthouse meant he was able to guide his ship to shore. To show his gratitude he donated one of the sets to the monastery, unaware that it was the most valuable of all the Nativity scenes that he was transporting. This is how it ended up in a modest church in Palma de Mallorca. More than two centuries ago it was moved to La Sang Church, where it is on display all year round.     Some other Nativity scenes that are also worth a visit in Palma are Cort, Ses Caputxines, Palau March, Centre Social Sa Nostra…     Not as old but of exceptional quality because their originality and the amount of work that goes into them are the Nativity scenes in the town of Felanitx, which is very near our Inturotel hotels. You can start at the one by the Casa de Cultura (created by the craftsperson who won last year’s prize for the best Nativity scene), and there you can collect a map that shows the location of the different Nativity scenes that you can visit. Don’t miss a trip to the parish church of San Miguel, in the daylight the pinkish colours and intricate stone carving of its façade are extremely beautiful.   La nit de Nadal (Christmas Eve) Christmas Eve is a magical night that the whole island experiences with emotion. It is a night when we join with family around the table, after participating in the sumptuousness of a festivity whose origins have been lost in time. This is the celebration of the liturgy of Matines (Mallorcan Midnight Mass or Matutinum in Latin) which was once celebrated at midnight and originally before the dawn (at 6am).     Although not all those attending this religious service are believers, many are drawn by a very special performance, the Song of the Sibyl. These days it is usually sung by a woman dressed in a beautiful gown, holding aloft a magnificent sword, but originally it could only be sung by the clergy or children.   The Sibyl was a prophetess from classical mythology who foresaw the end of the world. She was introduced into and adapted to Christianity thanks to the simple analogy between her prophecy and the idea of the Last Judgement in the Bible. The Song of the Sibyl is a liturgical drama with a Gregorian melody that spread widely throughout southern Europe during the Middle Ages. The first documentation about the Song of the Sibyl in the Cathedral of Mallorca dates from 1360-1363. The oldest version with music and lyrics written in Mallorcan is in a choirbook of a fifteenth-century convent.   Mallorca and Alguero (in Sardinia) are the only two places in the world where the song has survived as a tradition stretching from the late Middles Ages to the present. UNESCO placed it on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on 16 November 2010.   If you have the chance to visit Mallorca at Christmas, we recommend you check the different times of Matines in the churches of Felanitx. A particularly special service because of the ancient music that is played live is held in the Church of Sant Alfons.   After the spiritual and/or musical enjoyment, a lovely family dinner awaits, rounded off with a delicious hot chocolate with a coca de Nadal. Scrumptious!     If you would like to discover more about how we celebrate Christmas in Mallorca you can stay at one of our Esmeralda Villas FREESTYLE by Inturotel, now open all year round and which offer complete comfort by the sea, the Mallorcan sun and all the peace and quiet you deserve.   Let’s make these Christmas holidays a reason to take it more slowly, be more mindful and think about what makes us happy… we’ll probably find the answer is making other people happy.     Bon Nadal i Bones Festes! ¡Feliz Navidad y Felices Fiestas! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!          
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