Valldemossa Majorca Mallorca Travel Destinations Spain

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A beautiful town in north west Majorca, Valldemossa is the highest community on the island and sits on the slopes of the Tramuntana mountains. It has become increasingly geared towards tourists in recent years, but with its olive and almond tree surrounds, its steep streets and unexpected miradors, it retains a genuine charm.

The town gained some sort of fame when Polish composer Frederic Chopin came and stayed at the Carthusian monastery (Cartoixa Reial) with his lover George Sand in the winter of 1838 39.

The monastery had been turned into rented accommodation three years earlier during the suppression of the monasteries the monks had been there since 1399 and Chopin and Sand were in the vanguard of the area's tourist development.

The composer had tuberculosis but still managed to produce some of his best work here, while Sand wrote an epistle called 'A Winter in Majorca ' about their experiences. She sniped mercilessly at the locals, while admiring the region's beauty. " Anything that can be dreamt by the painter or the poet has been created by nature in this place," she wrote.

Nowadays the monastery is the second most visited building on the island, after Palma cathedral. You can see Cells 2 and 4 where Chopin and Sand lived for four months, and admire his piano and some manuscripts. Elsewhere, the monastery church hosts the Municipal Museum, which has a small collection of modern art upstairs, including pieces by Picasso, Miro and Francis Bacon. The vaults contain frescoes by Goya's brother in law Miguel Bayeu.

For a further dose of piety you can visit the house where the 16th century Saint Catherine of Palma (Santa Catalina Thomas), Majorca's patron saint, was born. A modern day Catherine (Zeta Jones) has bought a house near the village with husband Michael Douglas. Douglas opened the village's Costa Nord centre where you can hear his narration of an audiovisual history of Majorca, much of it concerning Archduke Ludwig Salvator, a 19th century Habsburg who forewent imperial duties at home to settle in the Balearics.

Opposite the centre is an excellent eatery, the Costa Nord, but if that is not to your liking there are plenty of different options. The Valldemossa Hotel, which was the monastery's hermitage, is an impressive place with a suitably grandiose restaurant.