Vilafranca de Bonany, Mallorca, Things to do and see, hotels, market
Vilafranca de Bonany is one of the many sleepy pastoral villages you will find on the heaths of Mallorca – also known as “es Pla”.
Vilafranca de Bonany is not known for its great attraction of tourists, but in return famous for its sugary melons, which are celebrated every year at the big melon festival.
Things to do in Vilafranca de Bonany
PARISH CHURCH OF SANTA BARBARA
As with many other Mallorcan villages, the parish church is one of the most important buildings in Vilafranca. The church stands on the original ground on which it was built in 1627. It was extended in the years between 1815 and 1842 and again in 1935. One of the main features of Santa Bàrbara, is the sculpture of Jesus Christ standing on the top of the dome.
CA SES MONGES
This is perhaps one of the smallest convents on the island. It was built back in 1897 by the Marquis of Vivot for the Sisters of Charity to who it still belongs. However, some of the rooms are used as a municipal school for infants (0-3 years).
CA SA MANESCALA
This is the birthplace of Joan Mestre Oliver, better known as Fray Lluís de Vilafranca (1770-1847). He was one of the most respected people who came from Vilafranca due to his broad knowledge and position as a librarian for the Capuchin order.
L’ESCORXADOR (THE BUTCHER’S HOUSE)
This building stands in high contrast to the remaining buildings of the village with its unique regional architecture from the early 20th century. There are several interesting details to observe on the exterior of this building, which currently houses the cultural center of Vilafranca.
Road cycling is undoubtedly the most popular sport that tourists seek in Mallorca. The country roads extending from Vilafranca makes it the perfect place for this particular activity, you can reach almost any area and any challenge in a short ride from here. Some of the more popular cycling routes leads to the sanctuaries of Bonany and Sant Salvador (Felanitx), as well as the beautiful coastal area of Portocolom.
WALK OR RUN IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
Just like bicycling, walking is an extremely popular thing to do in the area of Vilafranca. There is so much to see, so much to feel and, so much to appreciate.
SHOPPING IN MANACOR
Manacor is renown for many things; the Neo-Gothic parish church, it’s furniture, it’s artificial pearls, the underground caves, tennis professional Rafa Nadal and wimeries. But there is much more to discover in Mallorca’s second largest town. A big number of local stores and bars awaits you here to offer you a true Mallorcan experience and local high-quality products.
GOLFING IN BEAUTIFUL SETTINGS
Mallorca is famous for it’s 21 public golf courses, some of them championship courses, all with their own personal touch and carefully designed architecture. Closest to Vilafranca you will find the Son Anthem (~25 km) and Vall d’Or course (~30 km), both with great challenges and surrounded by beautiful nature.
DISCOVER MALLORCA FROM THE HORSE BACK
Experiencing the beautiful rural countryside of Mallorca from the horse’s back is pure therapy. Feel and listen to the rhythm of the animal making its way through meadows and green pastures while inhaling the purest air and just be one with nature, it’s simply amazing.
Best places to stay in Vilafranca de Bonany
Vilafranca is strongly ignored by many travel companies, a shame.
Hotel Sa Franquesa Nova ****
Rural idyll and romance dominate the atmosphere of this charming accommodation in Vilafranca. The hotel is located in scenic quiet surroundings, far from the hustle and bustle, and offers beautiful gardens and a lovely pool area with plenty of space for relaxation. Rejoice an enchanting sunset over the pool.
Market & Events in Vilafranca de Bonany
The weekly market in Vilafranca is held on Wednesdays from 9 – 13 in the Plaça Major. The weekly market is an excellent opportunity to sample some of the local products of Vilafranca such as melons which the municipality is renown for.
Other things worth looking for at the market in Vilafranca, are painted ceramics and embroideries which both are considered of high quality.
Annual fairs and festivities
Sant Antoni Abat (Saint Anthony) is the protector of domestic animals and everything related to livestock, which makes this saint very important especially in the rural areas of Mallorca. On the evening of January 16, the town is lit with bonfires and you can see various dancing groups perform to the sounds of traditional Mallorcan xeremirs (bagpipes). On January 17, the official day of Sant Antoni, blessings of animals is done and the festivities continues with parades, dances, food etc.
Día de les Illes Balears
On 1st of March, the town of Vilafranca marks the day of the independence of the Balearic Islands as an autonomous region of Spain.
Festes de Pasqua
Easter in Vilafranca means several cultural and religious acts and events. On Good Friday, enjoy the reenactment of the descend of the Lord in the park of Josep Maria Llompart, as well as a procession through the town. On Easter Sunday, there will also be a procession in the town to mark the day. On the first Thuesday after Easter, a community climb to the Santuari de Bonany with snacks and lunch where also a mass is held.
Mercat del Llibre
On the last Sunday of April, the annual book market is held in Vilafranca. During the week, the town celebrates books and writers with a range of interesting activities and events.
Festes de La Beata
The last week of July is one of the best times to visit Vilafranca de Bonany as this is when the annual town festival is held. Some of the highlights of this festival, are the dancing demons, a traditional Mallorcan act worth seeing. During the week you can also indulge in many other fun and interesting cultural events and activities, such as outdoor dinners, games, concerts, competitions, exhibitions, performances, races, market etc.
Festes i fira de meló
The annual melon fair is unique to Vilafranca de Bonany and there is no reason for not stopping by during this festive weekend. Come and enjoy the various contests in biggest melon, best quality melon etc. and indulge in a range of delicious products made of melons. Also, during the fair there will be animal shows, auction of Mallorcan black pigs, as well as many other wonderful events and shows. The entire weekend is themed agriculture of Vilafranca and has everything you could ever expect from an autumn fair.
Fira de Teatre Infantil i Juvenil
During the third weekend of October, Vilafranca turn its focus towards the children of the area. The children’s theater fair is a wonderful and joyful event, where workshops, theatrical performances, animation shows etc. are on display all over the town.
Festes de Santa Bàrbara
On December 4th, Vilafranca celebrates its patron saint of Santa Bàrbara. On this day, there will be a mass in the parish church, servings of traditional Mallorcan bunyols (pastry) and muscatel, followed by an extensive program of fun activities and events all day long. The center of the town will be occupied by various performances, exhibitions, stands, screenings, sports competitions, talks etc.
Nit de cap d’any
New years eve is celebrated at the stairway to the parish church, where we say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new.
About the area of Vilafranca de Bonany
Vilafranca de Bonany is a village and municipality found in in the southeastern part of the Pla de Mallorca district, and borders the other municipalities of Manacor, Petra, Sant Joan, Porreres and Felanitx. Vilafranca de Bonany covers a surface of just about 2,400 hectares making it one of the smallest of Mallorca.
The lands of Vilafranca de Bonany is mainly used for agricultural activities such as cultivation of melons and for livestock such as sheep. Vilafranca is also characterized by the many small family owned businesses, many of these sell directly from their houses or farms.
History of Vilafranca de Bonany
Ever since prehistoric times the area of Vilafranca has been occupied by humans. This is evidenced in more than 14 different archaeologic sites scattered around the municipality with the most interesting being the Pre-Talayotic site of Sa Moleta and the Talayotic sites of Castellot Vell and Son Pou Vell.
During the Moorish period between 902 and 1229/32, the area belonged to the district known as “Yiynau-Bitra” which also comprised the current municipalities of Sineu, Sant Joan, Lloret de Vistalegre, Petra and Ariany. The Moorish presence in the area is seen in the estates of Albadallet, Alcúdiarrom and in the well of Viguet, all still part of the cultural heritage of the area. Although not confirmed, it is likely that is was the Berber tribe of Zenata that occupied the areas these lands in this period.
Following the Catalan conquest of Mallorca in 1232, the Llibre de Repartiment de Mallorca (Book of Distribution of Mallorca) was written to declare the areas of the island and to whom they belonged. The king distributed all areas amongst counts, knights, lords bishops etc., people who had supported or participated in the campaign. Ramon de Castellbisbal came to own the estates and lands of Albadallet and Boscana, the knights of Lleida was granted Alcúdiarrom and Ramon Saclusa was given the lands of Alanzell, the lands of which the current village is located.
In 1242, Saclusa sold Lanzell to the Knights Templar who renamed it to Sant Martí de Lanzell, however, with the abrogation of this order in 1312 all of their properties went to the Knights Hospitallers. The king of Mallorca was not satisfied with this transfer as he saw these lands become under his ownership and led to a series of prosecutions. Eventually the king gained rights of the lands and granted them his treasurer, Sant Just. As of 1391, the lands fell in the hands of nobleman Arnau Sureda, whose descendants changed the name to Sureda de Sant Martí.
In 1620, the owner of Sureda de Sant Martí, Pau Sureda i Campfullós, obtained permission to expand his lands and include the lands of the Son Pere Jaume in order to establish a small community where his workers and servants could live. This allowed him have full jurisdiction of all people that lived within his property, thus the workers would not have to pay taxes or contributions to the country. This was how Vilafranca was born, as the name means “Free Town” (red. free of taxes). In 1633, the historian Joan Dameto mentioned the place as Vilafranca de Sant Martí.
In 1812, Vilafranca segregated from the parish of Petra, and on June 27, 1916, when the last successor of the Sureda family past away, the village was given the “de Bonany” ending in order to differentiate it from the two other municipalities in Spain with same name (Vilafranca, Castellon and Vilafranca del Penedès, Barcelona).
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the farmers of Vilafranca faced an increased and difficult competition in the market for cereals and wheat which had been the main source of income for centuries. The competition was simply too hard to ever give a sufficient trade margin. The farmers instead turned to cultivation of melons and extraction of clay from the ground, which opened a new market in Mallorca with high demand from the other municipalities.
Today, melons are still synonymous with Vilafranca de Bonany which occupies the majority of the lands. Other activities in the municipality include livestock such as sheep and production of construction materials.
National police: 091
Local police: 092
Guarda civil: 062
Maritime emergencies: 900 202 202
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Plaça Major, 1
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Bus lines 400