Petra local destination guide
Things to do and see in Petra
VISIT THE SANCTUARY OF BONANY
Point of Interest
Enjoy a scenic and beautiful excursion to the hilltop sanctuary of Bonany in 313 meters, from where you can admire the panoramic views of the Pla region, you can even see all the way to the bay of Alcúdia. The church and hermitage is emblematic for the entire area, for many years it was used as a place of veneration of gods by peasants who came to pray for rain. If you brought your hiking shoes you can make the way via the pilgrimage path.
HOUSE MUSEUM AND BIRTHPLACE OF JUNIPERO SERRA
If any name is synonymous with Petra, it is Junipero Serra, the famous Franciscan fray and missionary who was killed and later canonized in America. In the museum, you can explore a range of personal items, furniture from that time and scripts written by him. This is a unique insight in the life of the perhaps most famous Mallorcan ever.
PAROCHIAL CHURCH OF SANT PERE
This imposing Gothic construction with Renaissance attributes is not only the crown of the town, but also a real life evidence of how wealthy an area Petra was during the Middle Ages. The enormous dimensions of the church and the fascinating artworks and altarpieces inside witness of a big and dedicated congregation. This was also the place where famous Petran missionary, Junipero Serra was baptized.
Point of Interest
The rectory of Petra is a beautiful little place on the opposite side of the road from the parochial church of Sant Pere. Especially the sculpture in the small garden of a peasant woman representing the agrarian heritage of the area makes it worth a visit.
CONVENT OF SANT BERNADÍ
Point of Interest
This stunning old Franciscan convent from the 17th century is evidence of prosperous times in Petra. Moreover, this convent was the place where Junipero Serra received his education and swore forever trust and dedication to the Franciscan order.
MONUMENT OF JUNIPERO SERRA
Point of Interest
A small monument constructed in the 20th century to mark the 200th day of Junipero Serra’s death. The monument displays an imagery of the four major stages in his life.
PLACA DE JUNIPERO SERRA
Point of Interest
In the main square of Petra, you will find an impressive statue of Fray Junipero Serra put in 2013 to mark the 300th anniversary of his birth. The square is surrounded by palm trees and benches made from stone from the Sant Bernadí convent.
CASA DE LA VILA
Point of Interest
The Casa de la Vila is the town hall of Petra. The building was erected in the early 1500’s as the hospital of Petra, another indicator that this town was wealthy and had a big population. It was converted to town hall in 1837, when the clock tower was added. Inside, you can observe the original and interesting paintings of the Serra family, the most noticeable familyname in the area.
THE OLD RAILWAY STATION
Point of Interest
The railway station was built in 1879 as a response to the continuously growing population of Petra. The station exemplifies 19th century industrial architecture and features a set of interesting attributes to pay attention to.
Market, fairs and festivities in Petra
Weekly market in Petra
On Wednesdays the weekly market is held in Petra. This is a traditional fruit and crafts market offering typical Mallorcan commodities from local producers.
Annual fairs and festivities in Petra
Festes de Sant Antoni
In most Mallorcan villages, especially those in the rural districts, Sant Antoni is an important saint as he is the protector of domestic animals. On the night of January 16, bonfires are lit all over the town and dances are performed to the sound of traditional Mallorcan music. On January 17, the official day of Sant Antoni, blessings are given by the church.
Easter is always a great time to visit Mallorca, most villages does a lot to mark this time with festive events. In Petra, one of the unique events happens on the Tuesday after Easter Sunday when a massive picnic for the whole town is arranged where everyone walks from the town to the sanctuary of Bonany.
Festes de Santa Praxedis
Santa Praxedis is the patron saint of Petra, a Roman martyr from the second century BC buried in the catacomb of Priscilla. Her feast day in on July 21, however, in the two weeks leading up to this date the town hosts its summer festivities to mark this event. During these two weeks, you can enjoy a wide range of fun and interesting activities and events, such as parades, traditional Mallorcan music and dance performances, games, gastronomical experiences, exhibitions and much more.
During the summer party weeks, there are especially two traditional events that is worth experiencing; the summer carnival and the Festa de ses Clovelles. Festa de ses Clovelles (feast of the husks), is a fun event taking place in the afternoon hours where the patron saint of Santa Praxedis steals the key to the town hall from a demon, overcomes a set of obstacles and struggles and fights her way to the town hall to free the people of Petra. From the balcony, she sprays water and almond husks all over the people that starts partying.
Fira de Petra
On the third Saturday of September, the Petra fair is celebrated in town. The heart of Petra is filled with stalls and stands of every kind, selling clothes, crafts, foods and more at good prices. The day after the fair, there is a tribute parade to Juníper Serra, the famous missionary from Petra. If you are keen on finding a good deal on new additions to your wardrobe, don’t miss this event.
Mostra d’Art i Empresa a Petra
The last Sunday of October is dedicated to local business and art, a unique combination that has resulted in a fair held for more than 30 years in Petra. At the fair, you can enjoy exhibitions and sales of almost any kind of products, such as paintings, equipment, cars, flowers, machinery, home decor, foods, wines and much much more. This is combines with a mixture of street art giving the normally so sleepy streets of Petra a vibrant exterior.
Festes de Nadal
From the beginning of December and well into January, the feast of the Lord is celebrated in the streets of Petra. There will be all kinds of activities and Christmas markets held during the month spreading joy in the hearts of children and adults.
About the area of Petra
Petra is a town and municipality in the rural region of Mallorca know as “es Pla” or “Pla de Mallorca”. The municipality comprises a surface of 6.998,16 hectares with 1.729,99 of those protected. As of 2018, the population is 2,825 inhabitants.
The main sources of income comes from agricultural activities, mostly cereals, and from production of stones and clay.
History of Petra
The history of human occupation in the municipality of Petra begins in prehistoric times, in the undefined Pre-Talayotic era about 2.400 BC. From this time, a series of natural and human constructed caves has been discovered, such as the Cueva de Son NIVorra, Cueva de Son Roca, Cueva de Son Bacs, Cueva de Ses Cabanasses, Cueva de Es Cabanells Nous, Cueva de Sa Canova D’ariany, Cueva de Ses Comunes Noves and Cueva de Ses Comunes Velles.
From the Talayotic / Talaiotic era (1.100 – 300 BC), some of the excavations include the Talaiot de Son Boscà, Talaiot de So N’homar, Talaiot de Termenor and Talaiot de San Vellana.
All in all, more than 40 archaeological sites are categorized within the municipality borders of Petra, which makes it one of the areas with most prehistoric activity.
In 123 BC, general and consul of Rome, Quintus Caecilius Metellu, conquers Mallorca and makes it part of the Roman empire to prove himself as a master of strategy and warfare. The Romans had been fighting Phoenicians and Carthaginians in the Punic wars for centuries in the Mediterranean region, and Mallorca was a highly strategic point. The Romans left Mallorca in the 5th century AD, and from that time imperial coins and ceramics has been found in the area along with burial sites and funerary gifts. It is uncertain when the Romans left the island, but archaeologists suggest that it was in the 5th century.
In the time between 902 and 1229, Mallorca was under Muslim dominance by the Moors. During that time, Petra was part of a district known as “Yityau-Bitra”, which also comprised the areas of Sineu, Sant Joan, Ariañy, Lloret de Vistalegre and Vilafranca de Bonany. The Moors settled in small communities, or clans if you will, in farmhouses and huts from where they could cultivate the soil. Undoubtedly, the torrent of na Borges had been the most vital natural source of the area allowing the Moors to collect water.
Following the Christian reconquista in the years 1229 – 1232, the district of Yityau-Bitra was distributed amongst knights of king Jaume I of Aragón, however, still a part of his kingdom. Later it fell in the hands of his successor, King Sanç. From the 14th century, Petra was divided amongst the families of Burgues, Sant Joan, Sant Martí, Desbach and Sureda.
In the year 1300, King Jaume II of Mallorca constituted the town of Petra with a set of ordinances, taking the name from its original name of Bitra. An urban nucleus and grid was planned out with the necessary infrastructure to service the about 100 inhabitants.
During the 15th and 16th century, Petra started to rapidly develop as an agricultural community with its main production of cereals. Actually, Petra was one of the places in Mallorca with the biggest population at that time. What more made Petra interesting an wealthy in the Middle Ages, was the many quarries, which also has been used for constructing the parochial church and the Sant Bernadí convent in town.
Although droughts and epidemics caused multiple setbacks for the community, however, the belief that with hard work and sacrifice things will turn to the better. For this reason, there is an old saying in the area that goes: “The devil surrendered in Petra”.
Improvements in agricultural techniques through the 16th and 17th centuries meant that Petra could slowly grow more prosperous as a society. Due to the growing population and incomes, major donations also came to the church, the old Saint Peter’s Church was demolished in 1581, in order to build a new and bigger church that could accommodate the growing congregation.
In 1607, the Franciscan order settled in Petra and within the same century they had already erected the imposing convent of Sant Bernadí.
In 1714, a boy with the name of Miguel José Serra Ferrer is born in Petra and baptized in the parochial church of Sant Pere. Already in an early age he was accepted in the Sant Bernadí to receive his education, and in the age of 17, he swore to dedicate his life to the order. His intellect was undoubtedly illuminating, and it soon showed that he was a great medium for the entire religious world. From this time, he took his Franciscan name in use; Junipero Serra. He started teaching religion even before he had finished his own doctoral in theology. Later on, he founded missions in Mexico and California and became renown as the most influential spiritual leader. There are several monuments of him in Mexico, California and in Washington where he was canonized in 2015.
The end of the 18th century was the beginning of Mallorca’s great wine adventure, where Petra, like many other areas of the island, benefited from the great European demand. Especially when the dreaded wine plague in the form of wine lice (Phylloxera) spread through France and Italy, Mallorca’s wines came in high course. Unfortunately, by the end of the 19th century, Mallorca could no longer avoid the dreaded wine plague, all the vineyards had to be burnt down and many of the island’s great wine farmers emigrated to South America to start a fresh one.
Today, the wine industry is once again flourishing, however, most of the income come from agricultural activities like cereals, figs, melons and plums. Moreover, stones, construction and clay are major industries in Petra.
From Palma airport
The Pla de Mallorca region
Pla de Mallorca is a region consisting of municipalities located in the geographical centre of Mallorca. Pla de Mallorca has gotten its name from the plain flat countryside that dominates most of the local areas in the region, only with exception of a few. When you travel in the Pla region, you will notice that tourism is far from the main source of income in strong contrast to the many coastal areas of the island. Out here, agriculture and production are the main sources of income and occupies most people.
What makes Pla de Mallorca an interesting region to travel in, is the authenticity and charm that dominates these rural districts. Moreover, traveling around in the Pla region is really easy due to the great infrastructure, broad roads, low traffic load and flat landscape.
Algaida is to many people the manifestation of the Mallorcan soul and cultural heritage. The town carries a rich and long history going all the way back to the Catalan conquest of Mallorca, stunning nature and an indulging kitchen. Algaida is a great place to spend your rural holiday on Mallorca, because of the unique location just 20 minutes from Palma. Accommodation in Algaida is just as unique; do yourself a favor and try a few days at the epic sanctuary of Cura and enjoy the most amazing views overlooking the bay of Palma and the stunning countryside.
Ariany is a small and sleepy village in the north-eastern area of the es Pla region. Ariany is beautifully situated on top of a hill allowing for stunning views overlooking the rural countryside up here. Selecting Ariany as your holiday destination in the rural Mallorca, means complete solitude and tranquility. There is almost no noise in this area, no car traffic and no stress.
Ca’n Picafort is a highly popular holiday resort located in the bay of Alcúdia, with its roots in the rural village of Santa Margalida. Yes, Ca’n Picafort is a mass-tourism holiday destination, especially during high season in the summer, but offers splendid accommodation all year round, especially the many villas and fincas situated in the back of the area are very popular during the winter season due to the rise of cycle tourism in this period.
Costitx is one of the smallest villages in the es Pla region out here on the rural countryside, yet one of the most popular holiday destinations amongst tourists looking for beauty, tranquillity and rural ambience. Costitx is well-known for its many interesting places of interest to explore closer, therefore, it is not a rare sight to see tourists walking or driving in the local area with the cameras ready. Your accommodation in Costitx will be in one of the many beautiful fincas or villas in the rural surroundings, offering modern yet authentic facilities.
Lloret de Vistalegre
Explore rich agricultural heritage of the es Pla region, Mediterranean wildlife and vegetation, while relaxing and enjoying in the charming village life of Lloret. Accommodation offers in Lloret consists of charming fincas and villas situated in the surrounding countryside around the village itself. There are also a few holiday rentals and flats inside the village, if you really want to get close to the local community and the soul of Lloret.
Llubí is known as the “honey town” of Mallorca, due to its rich traditions within beekeeping and honey production. In Llubí, you can enjoy real silence, an undisturbed and unspoiled agricultural area that has not yet seen much impact from tourism. Llubí only have one single boutique hotel in the village itself, meaning that most accommodation here is fincas and villas in the rural areas surrounding the town. You should choose Llubí as your rural holiday destination, if you are going self-catered and want to enjoy the tranquillity and central location of this base.
Maria de la Salut
Historic old fincas and agritourism is what can you expect to find in Maria de la Salut, an old and wealthy area in the northern part of es Pla. Located in the northern areas of Mallorca, Maria de la Salut makes a perfect rural holiday destination if you want to combine the windless countryside with fresh sea breezes found in the bay of Alcúdia running not far from here. Recommended accommodation in Maria de la Salut, includes the historic olive farm and agritourismo of Roqueta and the rebuilt finca hotel of Finca Son i Roig named after one of the children of the village.
Medieval village located at the summit of a mountain here in the middle of everything. Montuïri offers a wealth of stunning natural spaces to explore. Moreover, Montuïri is home to the emblematic prehistoric settlement of Son Fornés. Your rural holiday in Montuïri can be in a finca situated in solitude, or in the amazing SPA & Wellness hotel of Can Manera. Whatever choice triggers you the most, you are sure to meet the real soul of Mallorca here in Montuïiri.
Muro is mostly known for its popular summer holiday destination of Playa de Muro, but the main town holds a great treasure of local cultural heritage and charming village life. Muro is located in the northern part of the es Pla region, allowing for easy access to the coastline in the Alcúdia bay, as well as the many great roads for road cycling. Accommodation offers in Muro includes some amazing and very charming rebuilt fincas and finca hotels, offering every facility and amenity to complete the perfect rural holiday in Muro.
Playa de Muro
Playa de Muro is the perfect holiday destination in the north of Mallorca if you are looking for stunning beaches and a versatile local area. Playa de Muro offers a wealth of fantastic accommodation options, thus more than 500 local restaurants and bars. You probably won’t associate Playa de Muro with a typical Mallorcan rural holiday, and during high season it probably isn’t either, but that the charm of this huge area, it is indeed versatile. During autumn, winter and spring, Playa de Muro is packed with active tourists enjoying the combination of beach and rural countryside.
Porreres is located in the southern area of es Pla, a wonderful small village with a rich cultural heritage to explore and indulge in. When it comes to accommodation in Porreres, it is highly recommended to go for one of the agroturismos in the local area, producing fincas equipped with all modern facilities and amenities to complete your perfect rural holiday on Mallorca. The village of Porreres is quite interesting too, a bunch of new and interesting restaurants has seen the light here in the middle of the traditional urban core, giving you even more dining options to choose from.
Sant Joan is the core essence of Mallorcan agriculture, located in the heart of the island. The area is so agricultural, that each year an entire fair dedicated to agritourism is held here in the town. Choose Sant Joan as your rural holiday destination, if you are attracted to silence and solitude, because that is what you will find here among the many interesting places of interest and fields of almond trees covering the surface. Moreover, Sant Joan enjoys a central location in the Pla region, allowing for easy access to most other small villages in the region.
Santa Eugénia exemplifies an agricultural rural escape, yet keeps its touch to bigger urban areas. Santa Eugènia is located in scenic nature, with great views and surrounding by a varied natural environment. Santa Eugenia enjoys a unique location just a 10 minute drive from Palma, yet not a sound of a car is to be heard out here. Choose Santa Eugenia for your rural holiday, if you want luxury and access. Especially golfers rents fincas and villas in Santa Eugènia because of the many golf courses close by.
Sencelles is located in the heart of es Pla and exemplifies what es Pla is, an agricultural community developed throughout thousands of years. Sencelles consist of the town itself, with three other small hamlets located in the nearby area. Accommodation offers in Sencelles are petit finca hotels in the rural countryside and holiday villas for rent. You will find everything you need for your rural Mallorcan holiday in Sencelles thus a wonderful central location.
Sineu was home to the first jurisdiction of the rural areas on Mallorca, thus home the king’s summer palace. Sineu is by locals not only seen as the heart of Mallorca, but as the heart of the world. Sineu is very popular among tourists on Wednesdays when one of the biggest markets on Mallorca is held in the town. Accommodation offers in Sineu includes some of the most charming rustic fincas in the local area equipped with everything you need to complete the perfect rural holiday here.
Vilafranca de Bonany
Known as the “melon town” of Mallorca, no doubt you are in for a tasteful experience when visiting Vilafranca de Bonany here in the centre of Mallorca. Accommodation offers in Vilafranca de Bonany mainly consist of rebuilt fincas and villas in the surrounding countryside, offering true tranquillity and solitude to the self-catered rural holidaymaker.