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Posts tagged ‘Tramuntana’

Discovering Mallorca: Ravishing La Raixa

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.

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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.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

2015: My year in photos (Part 1 – Mallorca)

Ever since I started The Daily Norm I have ended the year with a look back at my year in photos – in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 – and here I go again. Every year I found the exercise not only intensely enjoyable, being able to relive my favourite moments of the last 12 months through some of my best shots, but also extremely rewarding. For in surveying just how much I manage to have done in each year, I consider myself extremely lucky to have seen, smelt, breathed and experienced all I have.

And this year is no exception, for 2015 has been a year of significant change for me, not only because I have been following a completely different career path, but because it is the first complete year I have spent living in a completely different place… the paradise island of Mallorca.

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Franciscan Monastery, Palma

Alfabia pondlife

The almond blossom season

Fishermen paraphernalia, Puerto Andratx

Photos can communicate so much better than any words just quite how beautiful an experience it has been living a year on this Mediterranean island. From the consistent days of winter sunshine, when a glass of wine caught outside by the sea in January felt like I was cheating the seasons, to the incredible pink almond blossom which filled the mountainsides in the Spring. From the endless inspiration which the charming trees of the old town of Palma de Mallorca provided, to those sumptuous days of summer spent on beaches of turquoise waters and powdery white sands.

The monastery of Miramar

One of Mallorca's many windmills

Treasures of the Bellver Castle

Sunshine on New Year's Day

Autumn colours

My year in Mallorca has exposed me to some incredible sights; the rippling craggy Tramuntana, the Cap de Formentor; the Caves of Drach and the awe-inspiring mountain village of Deia, and while I have also seen some wonderful places outside of the island this year, such was the level of beauty seen in Mallorca itself that this year my photographic review had to be split in two. This first part looks back on my year in Mallorca. A true paradise which brought a glimpse of joy every day.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  

Deia’s Autumn Review

Beautiful, wonderful Deia…the little village which clings so serenely to the vertiginous slopes of Mallorca’s Tramuntana mountains, but which has inspired so many artists, poets and writers a thousand times over. And such is the staggering beauty of this mountainside marvel that the manifesto of every artist should include a visit to the village, at least once in every season. So when my Mother recently came to stay, it seemed a perfect opportunity to once again take the winding coastal road from Valldemossa to this famous home of creative greats, not only to re-encounter my adored Deia for the umpteenth time this year, but to see it in an altogether new light: an autumn light.

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Deia in the autumn did not disappoint. Shrouded in the golden light of October, it took on a new ephemeral beauty magnified by the sprinkling of clouds which cast strong pillars of light sporadically over the mountainside. In the garden of Robert Graves’ house, a must-visit for my erudite mother, Spring blossom had given way to rich orange bourganvilla, plump oranges and a fresh harvest of home-grown vegetables.

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Meanwhile, down on the spectacular Cala Deia, which we descended in order to enjoy a phenomenal squid lunch down by the foaming sea’s edge, the low autumn sun cast dramatic shadows over the naturally surreal rocky landscape. And while the sun descended quicker than it had on my first visit to the Cala some months before, there were no shortage of people enjoying the beach. In fact at one point it was so full, it looked more like Brighton on a rare sunny bank holiday.

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No matter how many times I visit the magical village of Deia, I cannot help but be touched by the mystical atmosphere which envelopes the place. Whether it be in the mysterious mists of morning, the balmy summer nights punctuated by the chorus of cicadas, or now in the melancholic light of October, I remain firmly magnified by this little Elysium by the sea. And having now experienced its magic for herself, I can confidently add my mother to the multitude of admirers who fall in love with Deia afresh each season.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Discovering Mallorca: Exquisite exclusivity in the Embarcadero of S’Estaca

I should warn readers now that the photos you are about to see may make your eyes saw from their exposure to beauty. For few readers of The Daily Norm in the last few months can doubt the breathtaking natural beauty of the island of Mallorca I call home. But even paradise has its highlights, and the little port, or Embarcadero of S’Estaca is pretty much as good as it gets.

Nestled in a tiny cluster of rocks at the foot of the steep craggy cliffs of the Tramuntana Mountains, S’Estaca is a breathtaking coastal estate first owned by the notorious Archduke Salvator and subsequently by the even more famous Hollywood star Michael Douglas together with his exwife. While the glamorous Mallorquin finca he now calls his home is strictly off limits to most but a lucky few, the tiny little landing port of the same name can be enjoyed by the wider public, or at least those adventurous enough to traverse the steep cliffside paths stretching from the Port of Valldemossa.

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Those who make it will discover what is easily one of the most stunning little ports I have ever encountered in my life. With just a few fisherman’s huts clinging to the cliff like birds nests, a semi circular landing platform on which local fishermen still sit to mend their nests, and surreal rock clusters like an illusion straight out of the mind of Salvador Dali, S’Estaca is the epitome of picturesque. And what perhaps tops it off is the water: naturally enclosed by the rock forms encircling the bay, the water is as clear, as turquoise and as stunningly beautiful as a manmade swimming pool, but with all the enticing extras that only Mother Nature can afford.

This is beauty at its most unbeatable.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

On the trail of S’Arxiduc (Part 1): Son Marroig

Mallorca is a well-known magnet for people from all nations, and of all the famous foreigners attracted to the island, none has been so well admired locally as ‘S’Arxiduc’, Archduke Ludwig Salvador. Born in 1847 in the Pitti Palace, Florence, the son of Leopold III of Tuscany and Marie Antoinette de Bourbon, he came to Mallorca 20 years later to escape from Viennese court life and immediately fell in love with the island.

Championing conservation before the word even had a meaning, the Archduke was a passionate admirer of the wild beauty of the North-Western Tramuntana coast, and very quickly bought up estates along the coast (including S’estaca which today belongs to Michael Douglas) in an effort to save them from development. Once saved, he devoted himself to studying and recording Mallorcan wildlife and traditions along the land, and his seven volume Las Baleares remains an authority on the subject today.

Na Foradada and the famous marble rotunda

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100 years after the centenary of his death, the island of Mallorca is marking the life of this critically important Mallorca enthusiast, including a large exhibition devoted to his life in the Casal Solleric on Palma’s leafy Borne boulevard. So with S’Arxiduc very much on the brain, it felt like the perfect time to visit two of his former properties, which I have so often seen on the way to my beloved Deia and never explored. The first, Son Marroig, was the Archduke’s home and has today been turned into a shrine in his memory.

Son Marroig inside

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While the house is rich in S’Arxiduc memorabilia together with impressive antique furniture and traditional Mallorquin upholstery, the real gem for me is the outside: sun dappled gardens cooled by a small pond and a lavish array of plants, and beyond them his famous white marble rotunda, made from Carrara marble and imported from Italy, from where you can sit and gaze at the Na Foradada (‘pierced rock’) peninsula, jutting out to sea with a gaping 18-m hole at its centre. It’s a poetic structure from a man who, like no other before, appreciated the true poetry which resounds in this most stunning and unique of Mediterranean coasts.

Gardens of San Marroig

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All photos are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

My travel sketchbook: The Tramuntana from Fornalutx

It’s been a horribly long time since my last entry in my travel sketchbook, the trusty book I like to take with me on my travels and in which I instantaneously capture my surroundings with a drawing in pen. But then again my travels have been somewhat overshadowed by a mighty great move from London to Mallorca, and all of the career and lifestyle changes that has entailed. However, now 5 months into my Mallorca move, and starting to spread my wings from Palma to the nearby plentiful natural scenery that permeates this stunning island, I have reached once again for my travel sketchbook to capture some of the beauty which I find all around me.

The Tramuntana viewed from Fornalutx (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

The Tramuntana viewed from Fornalutx (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

I drew this quick sketch from the wonderfully appointed balcony attached to our room in the Petit Hotel in the village of Fornalutx. What the hotel may have been missing in luxuries, it gained from a stunning location on the edge of the village with unparalleled views of the surrounding Tramuntana mountain scenery. This sketch attempts to capture something of that wonderful view from our room, enjoyed, all too quickly, for a mere 20 hours stay in the town.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Rural idyll in Mountainous Mallorca

It is sometimes difficult to remember, when passing most of one’s time in the bustling city centre of Palma de Mallorca, that mere miles outside of the city lies some of the most stunning natural scenery in all of the Mediterranean. From wide planes peppered with ancient windmills and sprawling olive and citrus groves, to incredibly vast vertiginous mountain scenery, Mallorca is an island rich in stunning vistas and bucolic idylls, and when I got myself a set of wheels last week, I enjoyed my first samplings of the island at its very best.

The car took us deep within the vast Serra de Tramuntana, a stretch of mountains which forms the backbone of the island sprawling from South West to North East, and which was awarded UNESCO world heritage status in 2011. Reaching the village from Palma involves an easy motorway drive East to Alaró from where the road turns inwards into the heart of the mountains.

Sheep

While the meandering mountainside road can be a little nail-biting at times, the accompanying views and sensationally untouched countryside are amongst the most stunning I have ever seen. Beneath towering mountains, terraced planes filled with olive trees and red stony terrain play host to mountain-hardy sheep and goats who totter around with iconic bells hanging around their necks. The result is a soporific melody of soft bells jangling in the still mountain air, a soundtrack which mesmerises me into an other-worldly state of epiphany. 

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Meanwhile through the delicate olive branches, soft warming sun rays bounce and scatter light across a crumbling dry soil, and all around insects stir against their beds of rustic tree bark and rocky-bound plant life. The landscape is almost biblical in its magnificence, and of course it lends itself to photography like none other.

So let me leave you to enjoy the fruits of my first visit inland. I can assure you now that there will be many more new mountain adventures to come.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.