Sóller is an town on Majorca’s north-west coast, situated in a fertile valley in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains. The region is famous for its orange groves and terraced olive-yards, and has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful parts of the island. The region is dominated by the Puig Mayor (“Big Peak”), Majorca’s highest mountain with an altitude of 1445 metres above sea-level.
Sóller is the main town in northern Majorca and connected to Palma by a train line that runs through a tunnel under the mountains. It is a relaxing and tranquil place, renowned for its celebrations of arts and high culture. There are several art museums in the town, including the famed Ca’n Prunera, a stunning house of modernist design that features works by Picasso, Miró, and Matisse among its treasures. Sóller also has a rich architectural heritage and many buildings are built in the Art Nouveau style of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Some buildings date to the 14th Century, and town’s central feature is the the parish church of Saint Bartholemew in the main square. It was founded in 1236 and rebuilt several times, and now features a modernist façade designed by the noted architect Juan Rubio in 1904. Sóller hosts an international folklore festival every July, which attracts storytellers and folk artists from all over the world and features public performances in the town square and in the gardens of Ca’n Prunera.
Puerto de Sóller is a small beach resort on the coast a few kilometres north of the old town, and is easily reached by tram from Sóller. The tramway is the only one the island, and is known locally at the “Orange Express” because its route meanders through orange groves to the terminus at the harbour. Puerto de Sóller is a relaxed seaside town compared to many others in Majorca, and the only resort along this part of the island’s rugged west coast. The town is situated in a perfect horseshoe-shaped bay enclosed by two headlands, and the mountains rising almost directly behind the town provide a spectacular backdrop. There are two good sandy beaches here, “Es Traves” and “Ca´n Repic”, joined by a pedestrian promenade lined with cafés, restaurants and shops.
The Sóller region is popular with many walkers and climbers, who use it as a convenient base to access the network of footpaths that criss-cross the mountains. Many of the paths are centuries old, and were once used by herders and charcoal-burners who would travel from one town to the next. A popular route is the Cami del Rost, which leads from Sóller to the seaside village of Deià, passing through several historic farm estates (known as “fincas” in Spanish) along the way. Sóller shares its valley with the villages of Fornalutx and Biniaraix, about four kilometres away at the base of the Puig Mayor. Both villages appear to have survived the last 100 years completely unchanged by the tourist development that has dominated much of the rest of the island, and here visitors can catch a glimpse of the traditional mountain way of life in this area. Walkers should take care to remain on the marked paths, and watch out for sudden changes of weather that are common in mountain regions. Forest fires are also a significant danger, especially during the summer months, and all fires in the mountains are prohibited.