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Artà

View on house roofs of Artà

This medieval town is situated in a charming garden-like setting, close to the coast, towards the eastern part of Mallorca. The origin of its name can be explained by association with the Arabic word ‘jertan’, which means garden. In Artà, you are guaranteed to find the real, unchangeable heart of Mallorca.

Entrance to the fortress of San Salvador Artà

Medieval Ambience

Artà, with its approximate number of 7000 citizens, is located in the north-eastern part of Mallorca, about 60 km from Palma. The place has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Greeks, Romans and Moors lived here at various times, and the town prospered. Like many places near the coast, Artà was also frequently raided by pirates, and therefore its inhabitants had to build defensive city walls, watchtowers and a fortified ring that still exists today. In order to fully capture the charm of the place, you have to climb to a higher point and get a view of the rooftops and natural background of the town. Fortunately, the right place is nearby – the Calvary Hill, 182 meters tall, with its cypress-bordered staircase. From the battlements of the old defensive wall, you’ll get a first-class panoramic view of Artà and much of the surrounding area.

Alleys in the old town of Artà

The “Togetherness” of Artà

Today Artà is a prosperous town. Its overall image is stunning, as the town stands on its enclosed location, with solid old houses and steep narrow streets that begin at the foot of the hill, and which are gently guided upwards along the ramparts of San Salvador, all the way to the top. Most visitors that come to Artà these days are one-day tourists who come to see the Transfiguració del Senyor fortified church, with its beautiful wooden pulpit, and then climb the 180 steps up to the pilgrimage church of San Salvador (built in 1825). Once that is accomplished, you should take the time to stroll along the narrow streets, and admire the noble, aristocratic houses and the pretty little squares, before going up to the castle hill.

Church Transfiguració del senyor in Arta

Transfiguració del Senyor

The late Gothic fortified parish church Transfiguració del Senyor (1563) is particularly impressive, thanks to its high buttresses. These flying buttresses are typical of the late Gothic period in Mallorca, and the building is stunning, due to the high supporting towers, which span flat spaces in between them, called terrades. Inside the church, the main attractions worth seeing are the mahogany Mallorcan pulpit (1860) and the altar with the “Transfiguration of Christ”.

Staircase to the Sanctuary of San Salvador

The Calvary Staircase

Right behind the church you can find the starting point of the steep climb towards the crenellated castle up the hill. The pilgrimage route, also called the Calvary staircase, is lined with tall cypress trees and crosses with representations of the Passion of Christ. The stairs lead up to the fortress and the church of San Salvador.

View from Fort San Salvador with palm trees

The Fortress

Over time, the former castle up the hill became known more and more as a place of pilgrimage. The medieval castle had to almost completely give way to the Sanctuary of San Salvador. But even to this day, when you walk along the battlements or rest your tired feet in the quiet courtyard, you can still feel the impressive strength of the fortress around you.

Sanctuary of San Salvador on hills of Artà

San Salvador (Santuari de Sant Salvador)

In the Baroque church of San Salvador, the main attractions worth seeing are an enthroned Madonna and Child and two paintings on the history of Mallorca. The terrace behind the Sanctuary offers a magnificent panorama. This view over the roofs of Artà is one of the top attractions of Mallorca.

Rooftops of Arta

Activities

Besides the town hall, you should also consider visiting the Museo Regional de Artà, with its varied exhibits that cover the fields of natural history, anthropology and archeology. You’ll find ceramics, jewelry and bronze items – all of them archaeological finds but easily recognizable to this day as traditional Mallorcan commodities. In the town center, the Plaça del Conqueridor was first built in the 19th century, underwent a massive renovation in the 90s, and today is the host of a very popular weekly market on Tuesdays, between 9 am and 1 pm. The surrounding area of Artà, with its charming hills, almond orchards and olive groves will enchant nature lovers. It’s a sight that you cannot miss – whether you take the trip by foot or you rent a bike. While you’re traveling around, the caves of Artà and the monastery Ermita de Betlem are well worth a visit.

Monastery Ermita de Betlem

Ermita de Belén

A short ride from Artà towards the inner part of the island (about 10 km) through the fertile landscape bustling with orange trees and other Mediterranean flora, will take you to the monastery in the mountains. The small mountain church, dating back to the early 19th century, stands at the end of a beautiful avenue bordered by cypresses, as the panorama opens up behind it. The statue called "Christ of the Agony" is greatly revered by the inhabitants of Artà, and is the main focus of the pilgrimage that takes place every 1st of May. The dome of the monastery displays an elaborate painting. As late as 2010 monks still lived here, but, due to their old age, they were relocated to the more comfortable Saint Trinity monastery, near the village of Valldemossa. A small chapel can still be seen on the estate, surrounded by the short walls that protect the fields from the wind.

Entrance to the Caves of Artà

Cuevas de Artà

Cuevas de Artà, the cave of Artà, is a must-see destination in the area. It’s located about 11 km down the coast, at Canyamel, and it’s probably the largest and most impressive stalactite cave of Mallorca.

blossoming almond tree plantation in Mallorca

A Tip from Mallorca.org

Plan your visit so as to stroll around the plains of Artà when the almond trees are in bloom – a sight you’ll never forget!

information

Population: 7,415

Tourist Information

Artà
Oficina Municipal de Turismo Artà
Calle Estel 4
07570 Artà
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museu@arta.cat
+34 971 829778