From the center of Palma to Sóller by veteran train. Welcome aboard the Ferrocarril de Sóller!
Take a ride on a traditional narrow-gauge railway, through spectacular landscapes across Mallorca.
The antique train between Palma and Sóller
On April 16, 1912, the railway line between Palma and Sóller opened as a result of the increasing export of oranges and citrus fruits from Port de Sóller. The following year, in 1913, the tram between Sóller town and Port de Sóller was inaugurated.
The train runs from Placa d’Espanya in the center of Palma 5 times daily. The departure at 10:40 is called the ‘tourist ride’, which sometimes stops along the way to make room for photography of the beautiful landscapes.
Mahogany panels, brass fittings and the whistling are all some of the impressions you encounter when you get into the old train carriages, and head out of Palma and on towards the adventurous landscapes of the Tramuntana mountains via the winding narrow tracks.
The history of the railway
At the beginning of the 20th century, industry boomed so much in Sóller that there was a genuine need to expand the infrastructure that could ensure that Sóller would no longer be isolated. There was a need to be able to transport people, goods and materials that could strengthen the development of Sóller. The huge ridges, especially the Alfabia mountain around Bunyola, prevented passengers and goods from being transported to / from the port of Palma and the rest of the island, which at that time was already connected via a railway network.
Before the opening of the railway, it was necessary to cross the mountain pass of Coll de Sóller, via the steep and narrow gravel roads that were hard for the mules. Actually, many of the old inns from the time that gave animals and riders a resting place and provisions are still located along the road to Sóller, however, several have been converted into restaurants.
In 1893, a local councilor and businessman from Sóller, Jerónimo Estades, proposed that a rail link between Sóller and Palma, which would pass through Valldemossa and Deia, could be established and financed. This project did not come to fruition due to the high cost involved.
In 1903, the businessman Juan Morell took up the project again, this time without including Valldemossa and Deià. His project was to dig a tunnel under the mountains where Coll de Sóller ran. The idea was initially voted down, but a year later, in 1904, Jerómino Estades came on the scene again. He paid the engineer Pedro Garau to carry out the necessary investigations into whether the project would be possible to carry out. On 15 November, the studies were presented to Sóller’s municipal council, after which the project was approved.
The construction of the railway was left to Luis Bovio, who bought a small 020T steam locomotive from The Falcon Engine & Car Works Ltd., in Loughborough, which he named Maria-Luisa after his daughters. Work began on June 3, 1907, starting simultaneously in Palma and Soller. After one year of work, the workers from the Palma side of the Alfabia mountain reached the great challenge.
It took a full three years to dig the tunnel at 2856 meters. On August 19, 1911, Maria-Luisa reached the viewpoint Mirador de ’s Pujol de’n Banya.
Maria-Luisa was given the honor of driving the unofficial inauguration of the line, on October 7, 1911, in which it pulled a wagon carrying Jerónimo Estades, Pedro Garau and Prime Minister Antonio Maura on board.
The official inauguration of Ferrocarril de Sóller took place on 16 April 1912, when locomotive 1 ‘Sóller’ and locomotive 2 ‘Palma’ pulled the wagons away from Palma, but locomotive 3 ‘Bunyola’ was waiting in Sóller.
The over 100 year old train carriages are still in use to this day, which makes the train ride a very special and authentic experience.
The tram between Sóller and Port de Sóller
On October 4, 1913, Mallorca’s first electric tram was inaugurated, the connection between the town of Sóller and Port de Sóller.
Construction of the tram began immediately after the inauguration of the train connection between Palma and Sóller. The project was designed and managed by Pedro Garau, who laid the 4868 meter railway tracks. One of the details of the work that is worth highlighting is the metal bridge that crosses the Torrent Major river, created by the former La Maquinista Terrestre in Marítima from Barcelona.
Originally, the tram was supplied with power from an electrical installation at the Sóller station. The plant was powered by a 65-horsepower engine, which had a Siemens-Schuckert alternator that provided a 600-volt power charge.
The tram was designed to transport passengers, but goods were also transported. Fresh fish was transported in a special thermal wagon, and coal was brought to the former submarine base in Port de Sóller. Torpedoes and mines were also transported from the Gaubet weapons depot.
The three trams, 1,2 and 3, are the originals from 1912, just like the carriages.
Get directions to train station in Palma and Sóller
Palma is the capital of Mallorca and seat of the Balearic government. Palma was founded during the occupation of the Roman empire, about 123 BC, and later developed by the Moors and Catalans. Palma has several times been awarded best place in the world to live; it is a city of great diversity, cultural heritage and commercial activity, making it an attractive city to a broad audience. Palma is one of the best places in Spain to go shopping, all the new arrivals from other Mediterranean capitals arrive here before other places in the world, plus, there are hundreds of local specialty boutiques.
The rich history of Palma has left an incredible amount of landmarks and points of interest to discover i.e. the Arabian baths, the cathedral, the Bellver castle, the Almudaina palace etc., as well as hundreds of other unique constructions perfect for sightseeing in the city.