Valldemossa is a beautiful village on Majorca’s west coast, about 10 miles south of Deià in the Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range. In the 19th Century it became famous throughout Europe when it was the scene of a famous romantic scandal, and it has since developed a reputation as an exclusive resort of movie stars and millionaires. It is also popular with older couples and other travellers who may want to get away from the main tourist areas, and with outdoor sports enthusiasts who use it as a base to explore the nearby walking trails and mountain peaks.
Like many old Majorcan towns Valldemossa is set a few miles inland, to protect it against pirate attacks. Much of the original defensive wall built at that time has survived, and now surrounds the cobbled streets of the Old Town neighbourhood. Several notable historic buildings lie within the walls, including the Palau de Rei Sanxo, a church and former royal palace, and the 14th Century Carthusian monastery of Sa Cartoxia. In the 19th Century the monastery became the refuge of two lovers: the composer Frederic Chopin and the writer George Sand, who had fled Europe after scandalising polite society with their illicit love affair and Bohemian lifestyle. The couple rented a monk’s cell at the monastery for the winter, in the hope that the sunny climate would help Chopin recover from tuberculosis
But the winter was wet and cold, and the holiday was a disaster. Chopin’s health got worse and the couple fought with the villagers and with each other. George Sand took out her frustrations by writing a scathing book, “A Winter In Majorca” – which, curiously, helped launch Majorca as a popular tourist destination. The story of the two lovers has entered local folklore, and although the book insinuated the villagers were thieves and villains, copies of the novel are proudly sold throughout the village. Today the monastery is a favourite excursion for cruise-ship visitors to Majorca and day-trippers from other parts of the island. The room of the lovers have been turned into a small museum where performances of Chopin’s music are played, and there are historical displays in the monastery’s 14th Century pharmacy, where monks in the Middle Ages once prepared medicines from local herbs and minerals.
The mountain landscapes of the Tramuntana range are some of the most beautiful and unspoiled parts of Majorca. Many historic and well-charted walking routes cross the area, linking Valldemossa with Deià and Soller in the north, and other parts of the coast. The Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones have a home near Valldemossa, and have established the Costa Nord cultural centre in the town. The centre is dedicated to the protection of the natural beauty and history of the region, and features a multimedia presentation by Douglas about his love for the area. Costa Nord is well known for its fine restaurant and musical programme, which has included performances by international stars such as Van Morrison and Art Garfunkel.