Excursion to the most beautiful garden on Mallorca
Welcome to Mallorcas answer to “Garden of Eden”! What you are about to enter, is known as one of the most beautiful local places on the island. The gardens and house here, are early examples of how the most rich and powerful people lived on the island.
You find Jardins d’Alfabia in the beautiful area of Bunyola, with easy access from the main road just before the tunnel leading to Sóller.
The gardens of Alfabia
The access consists of a wide avenue, or Roman “paseo de salon”, with three lanes of large plane trees, that reaches the “Clastra” ( the typical “patio” of Mallorcan country houses of a certain importance, called “possesions” ).
Jardines de alfabia. At the end of an avenue of palm trees is the facade that gives access to the most emblematic feature of the garden: the pergola with its water fountains, reconstructed at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Half of its length is adorned with twenty-four stone hydras. The numerous water jets cross one another, turning the shimmer and murmur of the water into a real gift for the senses.
Moving along, we reach a part of the garden remodeled in the mid-nineteenth century, with a clear influence of English landscaping, leafy and shady. This part holds the Jardinet de la Reina (The Queen’s little garden) so called because it was conceived because of Queen Elizabeth II’s stay in Alfabia.
The lower garden has a tropical flavor and a small pond with water lilies. Here we can find a wide array of palm trees from which the “garballons” stand out, a protected species that typical from Mallorca.
Wisely integrated in its natural environment, the variety of styles has not meant a hodgepodge but rather a harmony difficult to attain. Facing the main façade, palm trees rise solemn and majestic, regardless of time passing by.
The House of Alfabia
The structure of the house has Roman-Andalusian roots. We find features and elements of different styles: Arabic, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Roman, Rococo and even English in the decoration of the rooms.
The main facade, created by Joan d’Aragó, an important baroque architect of mid eighteenth century, is flanked by two “colcadors” or stone mounting-blocks. Its large portal (portal forà), whose doors are sheathed in bronze, has on each side two elliptical windows called “ojo de buey” (ox-eye) and is set off by two columns and a lovely baroque frame of reddish local stone.
The coffered ceiling, the work of Almohad craftsmen, was built in 1170. It is worked in pine and holm-oak, with inlays forming beautiful and typical arabesques. On the lower part are inlaid the coats-of-arms of the Arabic families who lived on the estate, and next to those of the Moor Ben-Abet of the thirteenth century, the bars of the Kingdom of Aragon and Catalonia superimposed. In the frieze reads “Allah is great. Allah’s is the power. There is no other God but Allah”.
The existent residence is reached crossing the patio (clastra), paved according to Mallorcan tradition and graced with a fountain and an immense plane tree. Attention should be given to a Gothic window belonging to the former residence and the basket-handle arch that crows the hall, very frequent in the Mallorcan architecture.
Inside, we can highlight the ground floor, where the rooms are more extensively furnished, which include the “Sala Gran” with painted scenes of the port of Palma and other towns; the “Sala de l’Alcova”, whose walls are covered with yellow damask, above painting of rural scenes; the “Sala de la Cadira” with numerous illustrations, musical instruments, neoclassical busts; and the dining room, result of the reforms of the nineteenth century with painted scenes on wood and painted cloth walls hangings.
Time has left traces of each era in the house, while the whole complex maintains its balance. In this sense, the development of the house of Alfabia is a model of respect for the past and evolution, of conservation and innovation.