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La Cartuja de Valldemossa: The Embodiment of Mallorca’s History

Located just 20 minutes from Palma and featuring a palace built in 1309, beautiful gardens and terraces, an extensive art collection and an old pharmacy, La Cartuja de Valldemossa is the perfect place for history and culture lovers visiting Mallorca.

Over the centuries, this architectural ensemble has staged some of Mallorca’s most outstanding historical events. Originally commissioned in 1309 by King James II of Mallorca as a residence for his convalescing son and heir, soon-to-be King Sancho I, La Cartuja turned into a monastery after it was ceded to Carthusians friars in 1399. The works progressed in several stages which saw the original main square converted into a cloister and cemetery, the palace’s five main halls transformed into cells whilst the original prison, pantry house and kitchen became in turn a refectory, a sacristy and a church.

After the monks were expelled in 1835 during an episode known as the “confiscation of Mendizábal”, part of the structure passed into private hands through a public auction whilst the clergy managed to keep hold of some of the facilities.

Today, La Cartuja is open to the public and visitors can take a tour of the old cells to immerse themselves in the highly valuable artistic and patrimonial collections. These include pieces related to the Carthusians and their lifestyle, personal items that once belonged to Frederic Chopin and George Sand - illustrious guests of the Cartuja in the winter of 1838-1839, as well as furniture, ceramics and other artefacts.

The extensive art collection located inside King Sancho’s Palace includes a set of paintings by Ricardo Anckermann, depicting different scenes from the history of Valldemossa and works by artists Joan Fuster and Henri Brugnot.

The collection continues in La Cartuja’s Municipal Museum. Located in former cells, the museum houses a beautifully preserved Guasp printing press from the 17th century, an exhibition dedicated to early conservationist Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria, and drawings by various painters from the Sierra de Tramuntana region.

In the pharmacy, visitors can marvel at utensils, medicine containers, wooden chests, stills and scales that were in use in the middle of the 18th century. The apothecary is one of the oldest in Mallorca and one of the best preserved in Europe. Founded between 1723 and 1725 to serve the religious community, it opened its doors to the locals after the “confiscation of Mendizábal” and remained in service until 1895.

La Cartuja’s Tower, built by the Carthusians between 1553 and 1556 to protect themselves from pirates, with its spiral staircase, renaissance window and adorned exterior walls is more evidence of the site's strategic military importance, contrasted by beautiful gardens and terraces overlooking the Valldemossa valley.

Combining history, culture, tradition, art and beautiful surroundings, La Cartuja de Valldemossa is a must see for any visitor keen to delve into Mallorca’s roots and soul.

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