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The "Tranvia" in the heart of Soller in the north-west of Mallorca
The town of Soller should be approached only with the "Rayo rojo", the "flashing red light". Even with the "flashing red light", the winding up of the altitude from Palma around many curves on the Coll de Soller (469 m), means never more than a 50 km top speed, but on the vintage train, you can really enjoy the scenery. It is lovely to travel by the locomotive because you have managed to climb to the mountain range of Tramuntana, in large arcs through the "valley of gold".
"Sullar", "Valley of Gold" as the Arabs of this valley named it, "Horta de Soller" as the Christian conquerors called it. Here in this sheltered valley its residents enjoyed almonds, figs, olives and citrus fruits in abundance due to the ideal climate.
After the train traversed the lush gardens, the passenger arrives in the "Estacio del Ferrecarril". If the passenger can not possibly claim to be driven by the slowest train in the world, he can definitely claim to have entered the oldest station building in the world. For the venerable station is nothing other than a purpose-built estate built about 400 years ago. The station is not only old, but also a cultural centre. On the ground-floor of the station are two exhibitions of world famous painter.
"Sala Miró", showing colourful prints of the artist, who experienced an intensive period of creativity on the island. "Sala Picasso" presents ceramics from the great master of modern art.
If the traveler leaves the station, they have two options, either they take a few steps to explore the town of Soller or they just catch the "Tranvia", in the old tram, launched in 1913, which goes further to the "port de Soller" to the harbour.
Anyone who makes the effort to make the short walk into the centre of the country town (population 7,000), inevitably ends up in the "Placa Constitucio" the heart of Soller. In a panorama from one of the numerous street cafés you'll see the stately Town Hall (17th/18th c.) and the parish church of Sant Bartolomeu. This church was built in the 13th century shortly after the Reconquista in place of a mosque.
Because Soller was never was safe from pirate attacks due to its vulnerable location by the sea, the church served as the fortified church in Andratx, as protection and refuge for the faithful from their enemies. This is demonstrated very clearly even today by the nave, with its thick walls and narrow slits instead of windows. The main facade was completed redesigned by Gaudi student Jean Rubió Bellver (1870 - 1952). He created a gigantic rose window with stained glass windows, so colourful light can now flood into the otherwise gloomy nave.
„Placa Constitucio“ and the parish church of Sant Bartolomeu in Soller
In a somewhat bumpy but otherwise peaceful tram ride you finally reach the Harbour of Soller, Port de Soller as its called by as the Majorcans or Puerto Soller, as the official Spanish name is. This natural port was used by the first merchants and settlers, Phoenicians, Greeks, and finally the conquerors, the Romans. But the evil North African pirates stormed the port in 1599/1600 to murder and plunder. The residents of Soller met the invaders and defeated them in a bloody battle with many deaths on both sides. This battle is reenacted every year in mid-May today during the "Festa dels moros i Christians" which is spectacularly loud and colourful.
In addition to this bloodthirsty past, there is also a peaceful mercantile past. Between the 17 - 19th centuries Soller exported citrus fruits mainly to France. Since that time, Soller has represented a special attraction mainly for French tourists.