Deià on the northwest coast of Majorca enjoys fame as the most beautiful village on the island. Situated on a hill at the foot of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains, on a hill overlooking the sea, it has long been popular with writers, artists, and celebrities – and today combines the traditional charm of a small Majorcan village with sophisticated community life and a vibrant arts scene.
The village of pink and red stone buildings surrounded by green olive trees features on many postcards of Majorca. The top of the hill is occupied by the church of Saint Joan Baptista, which dates from the 15th Century but was rebuilt in the 18th Century after a fire. Catalan poet and painter Santiago Rusiñol described the village a century ago as a “a little model Bethlehem, with the church standing up on the summit, a row of cypresses in front, and a handful of houses scattered round it as if thrown there by accident.”
There is a small museum next to the church, and the churchyard offers a beautiful view out over the village towards the sea. The small cemetery contains the grave of the English poet and historical novelist Robert Graves, who lived for many years in Deià. Graves – who wrote I, Claudius– was an authority on Greek and Roman legends, and found inspiration in the natural surroundings of Deià for his writings about nature and the ancient gods. Graves’ house in the village, Ca n’Alluny, is open to the public.
Deià has a small archaeological museum housed in one of the oldest buildings in the village, a former mill. The museum details history of the area and holds many artefacts of the prehistoric peoples of Majorca. A Moorish-era irrigation system still supplies water to some homes in the village. There is also a museum commemorating the American painter Norman Yanikun in the village, and a notable historic museum at Son Marroig House, just along the coast from Deià. Each summer the village also hosts the famed Deià International Music Festival, featuring performances of classical music. Deià is very cosmopolitan for such a small village, and there are about 20 busy restaurants and bars. There is also a good range of hotels and rental accommodations, including several luxury hotels that are popular with movie stars, rock musicians, and other international celebrities.
Deià is set slightly inland from the coast, and visitors can walk to the picturesque “cala” (or cove) along a track that passes though olive groves beside the sea. The bay of clear blue-green water has a small beach at its head, and is surrounded by rocks and cliffs where fishermen still cast their nets at dawn each day. Deià is linked to the inland town of Sóller by the Cami des Rost and the Cami de Castello, two walking trails through the hills that passes several historic farm estates (“fincas” in Spanish) and stately homes along the way. The route is five miles long, and takes about three hours to walk at a gentle pace. Several other walking trails lead on from Sóller into the mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana range, making this region extremely popular with walkers. Many of the trails are centuries old, and were used by herders and charcoal-burners to travel between towns.