Water and trappist monks
The scarcity of water in Andratx sharpened the wits of the Trappist monks living there, who conceived a system based on wells and underground galleries to ensure the needed supply of this indispensable good when they began work on the monastery.
Water from the torrent and rainwater accumulated in wells and was channelled to a cistern though an underground aqueduct covered by a dry stone vault. At present, some of the galleries that made up this curious water network can be visited.
SA DRAGONERA NATURE PARK
Sa Dragonera is a 4-km long island located off Sant Elm beach. The island's highest point, Na Popis, the geological prolongation of the Tramuntana Mountains, measures 360 metres high and an old lighthouse sits at its summit. Acquired by the Mallorca Council in 1987, Sa Dragonera was declared a nature park in 1995.
A natural area of singular importance, Sa Dragonera is the habitat of a wide variety of flora and fauna. The notable presence of Leonor falcons, Cory's shearwaters and European shags caused it to be listed as a specially protected bird sanctuary. Furthermore, the island has its own sub-species of Balearic lizard.
Touristic attraction, sun and beaches
"Geographical and historical tips"
Located 28 km away from Palma, this town is surrounded by pines and almond trees, under the shade of Galatos Peak. In the lowest foothills of the Tramuntana Mountains, the municipality of Andratx borders the municipalities of Estellencs and Calvià to the east and the sea to the south, west and north.
After being reconquered by Jaime I the Conqueror, the town was fortified with defence towers to repel Berber attacks. The castle of Son Mas is from this period, with a 16th-century tower. the church of Santa María de Andraitx (18th century) is also worth a visit. The village combines ochre and white houses with ancient watchtowers.
In the municipality of Andraitx we find the isle of Sa Dragonera, an environmentally important place that has more than twenty endemic species, and which was declared a Nature Reserve. From the beaches of Sant Elm we can have the best views of this natural space, the habitat of rare colony of Eleonora's falcons. Its coastline's most striking features, Camp de Mar and Andratx bays and Sant Elm beach, are also the municipality's main tourist centres.
The abundant variety of its landscape, characterised by spectacular encounters of sea and mountain, and the quality of the services it offers, which includes select residential estates and prestigious recreational ports, have made Andratx the favourite destination of celebrities of all kinds.
Inhabited ever since pre-historic times, Andratx was part of the Ahwaz Al-Madina district during Muslim rule, which was awarded to Berenguer de Palou, the Bishop of Barcelona by Jaime I after the Catalan reconquest.
The village was the centre of the Barony of Andratx or Pariatge, which included the municipalities of Calvià, Puigpunyent, Estellencs, Banyalbufar, Marratxí, areas of Pla de Sant Jordi and the parish of Santa Creu, which belong to Palma, in addition to the present-day municipality of Andratx.
During Arab rule and throughout the Middle Ages, most of the population settled on the coast, on the present-day site of Port d'Andratx. Nevertheless, successive pirate raids in the fifteenth century pushed the population inland in search of safer places.
In an attempt to solve the problem, the authorities undertook the construction of a defence system all along the coastline based on the famous watch towers, today one of the municipality's main tourist attractions.
The Bishop of Barcelona continued to dominate these lands until 1835, when Mendizábal permitted the State to expropriate and sell Church lands off in public auction (la desamortización de Mendizábal).
The arrival of tourism in the 1960's meant the beginning of an enormous process of change which has turned this municipality into one of the island's main tourist centres.
"Art and culture"
The village of Andratx nestles in the junction of Coma Freda and Coma Calenta, in the largest of the three valleys that make up the municipality. The village's oldest area, Pantaleu, is a fishermen's quarter made up of narrow streets which lies at the foot of the mountains.
Very different is the lay-out of the village's newer section, which reveals Neo-classical influences. Outstanding examples of the municipality's religious heritage are its parish churches: Santa Maria d'Andratx, Sant Crist de S'Arracó and Mare de Déu del Carme in Port d'Andratx.
Set in an extraordinary enclave, the remains of the monastery of La Trapa is the perfect spot from which to contemplate Sa Dragonera Island. A visit to Son Mas Castle, now restored, which houses the village town hall, is another obligatory visit.
The watchtowers that make up the coastal defence system are one of Andratx's most striking landmarks. The towers at Sant Elm, Sa Mola de Sant Carles and Cap Llebeig on Sa Dragonera, along with the fort in Port d'Andratx, are some recommended points of interest.