UNESCO World Heritage Serra de Tramuntana
Hike. Marvel. Protect.
Project information: The preservation of the historical natural and cultural landscape of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Serra de Tramuntana is the concern of a German-Spanish cooperation project of the same name. Essential project modules are:
- Development and communication of specific information about the special natural and cultural-historical values of the World Heritage Serra de Tramuntana for German-speaking tourists and tour operators.
- Elaboration of a training mode for the Mallorca Mountain Guides on natural, historical and cultural qualities
- Development of offers for the active participation of German tourists to preserve the landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana
- Network building of regional actors for the coordination of sustainable tourism
- Support of direct marketing initiatives for traditional agricultural products
The mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana
Terraces, olive groves, traditional dry stone constructions and ethnological elements for collecting and distributing water characterize the landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana, which belongs to UNESCO-World Heritage in the cultural landscape category since 2011.
Man and nature in harmony. Thus, travelers experience the mountains located in the northwest of the island, whose inhabitants lived and worked as farmers and livestock farmers for centuries in harmony with flora and fauna.
Especially in spring and autumn, the wild beauty of the Tramuntana with its picturesque mountain villages, rocky cliffs and quiet beaches is a popular destination. At 1,445 meters altitude, the Puig Major is the highest mountain of Majorca in the middle of the Tramuntana.
Hiking in the Serra de Tramuntana
Numerous hiking trails run through the Mediterranean cultural landscape. For about 160 kilometers, the GR 221 long-distance hiking trail – also known as the “dry-stone route” – leads from Port d’Andratx to Pollença. The hiking guide “Ruta de Pedra en Sec” gives detailed information about the route and sights in diferent languages.
Certified mountain and hiking guides
State-certified tour- and hiking guides accompany interested guests with local knowledge, love of nature and respect for cultural heritage. From day hikes to multi-day trekking tours, they offer the right tour for everyone – also in other languages.
The UNESCO World Heritage
The Serra de Tramuntana meets three of the admission criteria of the UNESCO Commission. In the history of the region, two great cultures (criteria II) and their skills came together: Muslim culture brought forth the elaborate irrigation system from the ninth century, and Christians were able to gain knowledge in agriculture and land division following their reconquest of Mallorca in the 13th century.
Today’s exceptional landscape (criteria IV) – characterized by cultivated patio beds, dry stone walls and buildings, estates, olive groves, orchards and irrigation systems – is the result of this cultural exchange. Also ethnological elements, such as charcoal mills and lime kilns testify to this. A unique link between agriculture and the way of life (criteria V) was created through this heritage.
Dry stone techniques
Dry stone building is a traditional Mallorcan craft, which uses the stones as a natural resource in the mountains. In this way roads were fortified, streams channeled and walls for land and fields were built.
Fields and beds have been terraced to gain deeper and more stable soils. The boundary is dry stone walls. Around 20% of the mountain area is designed in this way. Olive trees grow on most of the fields.
Water irrigation system
The system of dams, canals, basins and cisterns was created between the 9th and the 13th century and is constantly evolving. So water could be collected, forwarded and stored. In some cases, the system is still in use today.
Rural estates („Possesió“)
For centuries, the “Possesiós” were considered the centers of agriculture and animal husbandry. The manorial estates were important agricultural production sites, which often had an oil mill (Tafona), coal mines, bodegas, their own chapels and stables, but also towers for defense.
Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria
At the end of the 19th century, the Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria gradually acquired land on a large scale between Valldemossa and Deià. To protect the landscape, he laid out paths and built viewpoints, so that travelers could enjoy the view of the sea.
Osprey, Black Vulture and Ferreret
The mountains of the Tramuntana are the most ecologically valuable area of the island and offer unique species refuge. Ospreys and black vultures are known as typical inhabitants. The tiny midwife toad lives as endemic in the water collections of the valleys.
Holm oak, olive trees and Balearic garrigues
In rainy areas of the mountains holm oak forests can be found. Where it rains little, dominate wild olive groves. Typical: the Balearic garrigue to which many endemic plant species belong, e.g. the Balearic St John’s Wort with its big yellow flowers.
Danger and risks
Agriculture and livestock have shaped the Serra de Tramuntana for centuries. Among other things, due to cheaper competitive products, however, the management is often no longer worthwhile. Where today the use of the olive tree terrace beds is abandoned, the pine trees multiply, which with its roots contribute to the destruction of the dry stone walls and the danger of forest fire significantly increases. The destruction of the dry-stone walls is accompanied by the loss of an identity-forming and landscape-defining element of the mountainous region.
Numerous tourists visit the Serra de Tramuntana, the number of guests in Mallorca is rising continuously. The increase in tourism creates dangers for the landscape (for example damage caused by mountain bikers, wild campers, as well as guests who cut short their hikes across fields and cross barriers), but also leads to a decline in visitor acceptance of residents by unauthorized access to private property.
Protection and preservation
By adhering to a few simple rules, the landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana can be protected:
- Stay on marked trails to avoid conflict and soil erosion.
- 95% of the Serra de Tramuntana are privately owned. Some landowners have allowed passing on the trails.
- It is forbidden by law to enter areas of high ecological value, such as breeding sites, which are particularly worthy of protection. Access is permitted only for scientific purposes. These areas are not always clearly marked, so basically follow the marked trails.
- Always leave the barriers in the way you found them. These serve to control the cattle herds.
- Do not dispose of waste in the landscape and leave the environment in its original condition. Do not build signposts with stones and do not pick plants.
- Help preserve the Serra de Tramuntana as a place of rest and relaxation. Do not make noise.
- Do not ignite bonfires.
- Cyclists and horseriders should respect the hikers and avoid speeds that could endanger others. Lead dogs on a leash.
- Compensate the CO2 emissions of your flight through providers like Atmosfair or Myclimate.
Tourism as an opportunity
Tourism is also an opportunity for the Serra de Tramuntana. Many volunteers are already committed to preserving the landscape in Mallorca. The local environmental organization “Amics de la Terra Mallorca” works since 1994 with volunteers. Together with other partners, they carry out the region’s largest reforestation program in the Serra de Tramuntana. Added to this are numerous volunteer activities, e.g. to clean the areas, to repair the dry stone walls and to support the local farmers.
If you would like to support the “Amics de la Terra Mallorca” and therefore the Serra de Tramuntana through donations or volunteering, please contact www.amicsdelaterra.org
You can also support the preservation of agriculture in the Serra de Tramuntana by purchasing products from regional producers! These products are grown on the terrace beds according to traditional methods. You can also visit the weekly markets, where in addition to wine, olives, oils, oranges, lamb and seafood are offered, and get to know the farmers personally!