Drive Majorca – Day 5, Alcudia, Ses Paisses And Arta Caves
From crumbling stone ramparts to ancient settlements and time-worn caves, the final instalment of our week-long Drive Majorca series is sure to be a big hit with history buffs…
DAY 5 – Alcudia, Ses Paisses & Arta Caves
For my final day of driving in Majorca I decided to head east, taking the PM27 towards Inca before joining the C713 which spat me out at my target, Alcudia. Lassoed by ramparts, this town was built by the Moors around the year 800. I entered the citadel by way of an immense stone gateway before mounting the battlements that encircle the town. I also checked out the Roman ruins just outside the walls.
Next on my list was a little-known site called Ses Paisses. This 3000-year-old Bronze Age settlement lies just a short way south of the town of Arta. As such, I slipped into fifth and cruised along a rather uninspiring stretch of the C712 that links Alcudia to Arta. To pass the time, I pulled back the sunroof, cranked up the radio and for a good half and hour thought I was Justin Timberlake/Madonna/the Bee Gees/Daft Punk/Rhianna… #sorethroat
Bronze Age beauty
Ses Paisses itself was really interesting. It’s hidden away in the depths of an olive grove and, given its age, is incredibly well preserved. Remains include thick defensive walls, a Stonehenge-like entrance and a huge watchtower. Mind-bogglingly, some of the stones here weigh in at around 8 tonnes. I then decided to trade one set of stones for another…
Tracing my finger south-east on the map, I made the short hop from Arta along the PMV404-2 to the coast. Here, I followed the signs to the Coves d’Arta, or Caves of Arta. Majorca is famous for its network of caves, some of which used to serve as hiding places from pirates and dens for smugglers in days gone by.
In the 19th century the French geologist Edouard Martel was recruited to study these subterranean wonders and, in 1896, he discovered the Coves d’Arta. He was completely bowled over by their size – and rightly so, as some of the underground chambers are the size of a cathedral. And that’s before you’ve thrown the eye-popping stalactites and stalagmites into the equation.
The Majorcan authorities have upped the goose-bump ante by illuminating the cave’s rock formations with eerie coloured lights. As if that wasn’t dramatic enough, they’ve also added a rousing soundtrack – O Fortuna from Carmina Burana – to complement visitors’ viewing pleasure.
Windmill way home
I emerged from the caves blinking into the sunlight. Shades on, I took the PM404 in the direction of Sant Llorenc before joining the C715 all the way back to Palma. En route, I passed Manacor, Vilafranca and Montuiri. If you do this drive, keep an eye out for the 19 windmills that frame the hillside as you pass by the latter.