Just when I thought that Mallorca had unfurled its many hidden gems, another came into view as I drove down a dirt track off the main Palma to Soller road last week. At the end of the dusty bumpy path, my car a little worse for wear in the cleanliness stakes, a stunning country manor came into view. Perfectly appointed in the immediate foothills of the Tramuntana Mountains, and using those very mountainous slopes to mount its stunning renaissance style terraced gardens, I had arrived at the incredible Raixa estate, surely one of the most stunning former private residences on the island.
And indeed the palatial residence, which is today open for all the public to enjoy, was built to impress. Purposefully fashioned in its latest renovation by Cardinal Antoni Despuig in the late 18th century to instantly impress visitors with its magnificence both inside and out, La Raixa is a residence which remains a knock-out beauty seen from afar and up close, an unrivalled vision of Italianate whitewashed perfection which dazzles against its rugged but manicured mountainous grounds.
Little is left today of the house’s former internal grandeur, with the interiors largely given over to a natural-history-style exhibit focused on the geography and geology of the Tramuntana mountains. However the real treasure is undoubtedly the pleasures that lie in wait outside the manor, not just the exterior of the house itself, whose magnificent arched colonnade and white washed walls recall the romantic opulence of a Tuscan estate, but the gardens beyond whose construction was also heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance and later Baroque styles. This is no better expressed than in the tiered gardens to the rear of the property, with their impressive central staircase accompanied by the four muses, and a panoply of pastiched ancient ruins peppering the landscape to stunning effect.
They are muses which are well appointed, for in these voluptuously floral, brilliantly landscaped, utterly tranquil surroundings, I was very quickly and utterly inspired, and very reluctant to leave.
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