In the heart of Mallorca’s Tramuntana mountain range, known locally as the ‘Valley of Gold’, you’ll find a glorious jewel that is the little town of Sóller. Situated on the north-east coast, it was developed during the 19th century when the region was completely cut off from the rest of the island by mountains. What it did have was a deep, natural harbour that was used for exporting the oranges that grew abundantly in the valley, and which ultimately put the little town on the map.
This was helped along by the arrival of the Sóller narrow gauge railway in 1912, which tunnelled through the Alfàbia mountains and connected the town to Palma, by land, for the first time. The seventeenth century manor house that became the station is known today simply as ‘the terminal’, and the story-book train with its antique mahogany and brass carriages, heads back to the city five times a day, taking in some of the island’s most breath-taking landscapes along the way. Among them is the saw-toothed peak of Puig Mayor, which at 1445 metres above sea level, is Mallorca’s highest mountain.
Sóller always strove for its own identity and art and architecture were always important. Can Prunera in particular, is a meticulously restored Art Nouveau building in the old town, which houses an extraordinary collection of works, among them pieces by Picasso, Kandinsky and Warhol, as well as numerous local artists. Spare some time too, for the Balearic Museum of Natural Sciences and the Botanical Gardens where nature and culture co-exist in perfect harmony.
The life blood of Sóller though, is to be found on the Plaza de la Constitución, where, despite the imposing presence of the church of Sant Bartomeu, any number of lively bars and restaurants fill the air with convivial chatter and laughter from morning until night.
Welcome to Sóller, welcome to the Mallorca less travelled