Mallorca Island History

The History of Mallorca is long and colored by the conflicts of religions and cultures. Because of island's important location, Mallorca has been threated as a pawn by the rulers of the Mediterranean several times. The history of Mallorca is typically divided in to eras by the nations that have ruled the island. Each era has left it's own hallmarks and you can still sense their effects in the culture of Mallorca.

Pre-Historic Era

(5000 BC - 1000 BC)

There isn't any accurate information available about the first inhabitants of Mallorca. Some evidence suggest that the first inhabitants lived in the caves near Soller around 5000BC - 4000BC. The first houses were made out of stone. The ruins of these buildings are from the times 2000 BC through 1400 BC. After that started the Golden Age of the Talayot culture. The round stone towers are the hallmarks of the Talayot culture. Some of the these towers are still intact for tourists to see.

The Carthaginian Era

(700 - 146 BC)

The first colonization of Mallorca was by the Phoenician and Carthaginian colonists. The Carthaginians ruled Mallorca and the entire Western Mediterranean for a long period of time. Carthaginians used Mallorca as their strategic military base in the battle against the Romans. The era of Carthaginians ended during the Punic Wars when they lost the war against the Romans in 146 BC.

The Roman Era

(123 BC - 700)

Mallorca was left in to the hands of pirates during the years that followed the Punic Wars. The Roman soldiers ended the piracy in 123 BC when over 3000 soldiers settled Mallorca. The Romans establish i.e. the town Palma in the south and Pollensa and Puerto Pollensa in the north. The island was converted to Christianity during the years 2 and 3 AC, after which the Romans ruled the island for several centuries without any great conflicts.
The Vandals dominated the Western Mediterranen and conquered also Mallorca under the leadership of Gunderich in 426. The Vandals ruled Mallorca for a hundred years. During this time the Christians were persecuted. The christian religion was restored by the Byzantines in 534 and once again the Romans were ruling the island.

The Era of Moors

(700 - 1229)

During 6th and 7th century there was a long lasting war against the Moors, who finally conquered the island in 798. In the year 902 the Balearic Islands were conquered by the King of Cordoba and the Balearics were incorporated into the Caliphate of Cordoba. Al Hawlani was the first Govenor on Mallorca and build the Almudaina, the palace of the Governor. the famous Arab baths are also from this era. Tourists are still able to visit the Arab baths in Palma de Mallorca. The era of Moors was culturally rich time and had an strong effect on the traditions, language and cusine of Mallorca.
During the 9th and 10th centuries after the collapse of Caliphate of Cordoba, Mallorca was once again ruled by the pirates between 1087 - 1114. After that the North African Muslim tribes were raiding and ruling the island from times 1115 through 1203. The Catalonian Moors managed to conquer the island one more time. during the last years of the era of Moors governor Aby Yahuan build three mosques to Palma. One of these mosques stands in the place where the cathedral was built later.

The Independent Kingdom of Mallorca

(1229 - 1349)

The earl of Barcelona Jaume I 'El Conquistador' conquered the island of Mallorca in 1229 and finally ended the piracy. Before his death, Jaume I split his kingdom between his sons and Mallorca was left for his oldes son Jaue II who founded the Chistian Kingdom of Mallorca and build the cathedral La Seu in to Palma.
During the rule of Jaume II and Jaume III the independent kingdom had it's Golden age, the agriculture was prospering, new villages were established, Almudaina was transformed in to a magnificent palace and the castle of Bellver was build. The kingdom of Aragón could not accept this kind of success and the island was annexed to the Kingdom of Aragón by force during the battle of Llucmayor in 1349.

The Kingdom of Spain

The kingdoms of Castille and Aragón were incorporated in to the kingdom os Spain in 1479. During the following years the Moors, Turkish tribes and North African pirates tried to continuously conquer Malorca, thus large fortifications were build i.e. around the Palma and Pollensa. The Balearics lost their commercial importanc after the America was discovered, after which the conditions on the island started to calm down.
The civil war of Spain divided the people of Mallorca in two during the 16th century. Part of the population were in the favor of autrian dynasty, which would have granted an autonomous role for the island. Another part of the population was in the favor of Felipe V, whose goal was the absolute monarchy. After the civil war, Felipe V was named as the new king and the use of Castillan was made obligatory for all official transactions.

During the 17th century the war against the troops of Napoleon caused a lot of refugee traffic to the island. This caused a lot of restlessness and in 1806 Felipe V had to cancel all the privileges Mallorca had achieved. This was the time when name of Palma was changed to the Palma de Mallorca.

Polish composer Frederic Chopin and French writer George Sand stayed during the winter of 1838 - 1839 in the near of Valldemossa. Tourists can still visit the museum of Chopin in the village of Valldemossa.

Deconstruction of the fortifications around Palma De Mallorca started in the begining of the 20th century and they lasted about thirty years until 1934. At the same time the first tourists found Mallorca in 1933. The island established it's airport in 1960, which was the start of the mass tourism on the island. Lots of hotels were build i.e. to the areas of El Arenal, Cala Major and Alcudia. Tourism got fast the most important source of income for the island.

Centuries of mass tourism has already left permanent marks in to the ecosystem of Mallorca and now the greatest challenge of the island is to balance between the economical importance of tourism and the health of islands ecosystem.