• Maritime heritage Maritime heritage

    The north coast of the Tramuntana area, which is extremely difficult to navigate, contains numerous examples of maritime heritage related to surveillance of the coast, sailing and the exploitation of its relatively scarce fishing resources. They include coastal towers, lighthouses, dry docks and heritage linked to smuggling. Quarries for the extraction of marès (sandstone) complete the list of coastal heritage of interest value. Coastal watchtowers The geographical isolation that Mall [...]

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Maritime heritage

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The north coast of the Tramuntana area, which is extremely difficult to navigate, contains numerous examples of maritime heritage related to surveillance of the coast, sailing and the exploitation of its relatively scarce fishing resources. They include coastal towers, lighthouses, dry docks and heritage linked to smuggling. Quarries for the extraction of marès (sandstone) complete the list of coastal heritage of interest value.


Coastal watchtowers

The geographical isolation that Mallorca endured for centuries and incursions and attacks by pirates on numerous occasions led to the depopulation of the coast as a way of dealing with a danger that generally arrived by sea. This circumstance has meant that, historically, the area has acted as a last redoubt. As a result, there are two medieval castles – Alaró Castle and Castell del Rei, in Pollença- in this area, along with numerous watchtowers and defensive towers, organized around a complex system of signals and communications, designed to warn of the presence of enemy ships or provide protection from the attackers once they had disembarked.

The construction of the first defensive towers and watchtowers that line the coast of Mallorca began in the 16th century, although the presence of guards and lookouts is documented from the 14th century on. The insecurity of the period gave rise to the construction of an authentic network of towers that could communicate with each other in order to warn others of possible undesired or unforeseen landings. The signalling system and network were designed by mathematician and historian Joan Baptista Binimelis (1539-1616). The coastal towers are situated in places with good visibility of the coast, high up and in sight of neighbouring and adjoining towers.

Lighthouses

Mallorcan lighthouses are single-tower buildings located in clearly-visible places on the edge of the coast or set on cliff platforms or reefs. In fact they are situated in strategic points along the coastline, so that the lantern that projects long-range beams of light is visible to all sailors from a long distance.

The nine lighthouses on the coast of the Tramuntana area, like the rest of the lighthouses on the island, are relatively modern items of heritage, as most of them were built in the mid-19th century, following the directives of a General Plan for maritime lighting for the Spanish coast dating back to the year 1847. At the time, a series of improvements was introduced, relating both to the architecture of the buildings themselves and the fuels and lighting systems that were used, and at the same time new optical apparatus was incorporated in order to increase the amount of light they projected.

Seashore dry docks

Although there are few of them, in places offering most shelter from storms one can find traditional dry docks, known as alcoves in the Tramuntana and escars in the rest of the island. Generally speaking they are sheltered spots where a ramp has been built for launching or removing fishing boats from the water. The presence of boathouses or shelters to house boats is very common, whilst the ramp used as a slipway for the boats is made of wooden planks nailed to the ground.

The landscape of smugglers

Pursuit of coastal smugglers gave rise to a number of very interesting buildings on Mallorca, such as the Cosconar police barracks in the municipality of Escorca, as well as paths for observation of the sea and hiding places used by smugglers, known on the island as secrets (secrets).