If you loved making castles in the sand as a kid, Mallorca’s fincas will fascinate you.
Imagine a cross between a château and a grand farmhouse with lots of charm.
Historic ‘possessiós’ – or finca estates – are great places for the most amazing events, weddings, excursions and activities too!
In their heyday, Mallorcan ‘possessiós’ were large centres of culture and business.
It’s hard to tell when they emerged exactly. Evidence of human settlements on the island goes back as far as 6.000 years BC. Being located in a central spot in the Mediterranean, Mallorca was always sought after by the lords of the land around the island.
Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Moorish pirates and others came, conquered and left, but when the long Moorish rule began in the 9th century, their alqueria houses, terraced farming, irrigation and gardens became an integral part of Mallorcan life. By the time King Jaime I claimed Mallorca in 1229, many of the Moorish alquerias were confiscated and turned into estates for the king’s noblemen and their families.
Spanish noblemen began to rule the areas around their property. That included not just housing areas, but also facilities used for farming and extensive areas of land. By the middle ages the ‘possessiós’ had become a symbol of how the island was run. They were a way of structuring society, of perceiving time and of understanding life.
The architecture of each estate, as well as the organisation that went into the farming, reflect the social structure and cultures around at the time the estate was built. Thus many cultures helped shape the emblematic fincas, and they became important business hubs that ran the agriculture, livestock farming, hunting and forestry on the island.
Typically, a finca estate would have a main building where the owner family lived, and the workmen would be housed in much simpler abodes around the ‘possessió’. As churches were often located a long way off, the owners created chapels on site to provide a place of worship for the workmen. Today many of the chapels are still used, often for weddings.
In 1785 Cardinal Despuig created a work of art when he made a map that placed 1300 ‘possessiós’ all over Mallorca. The old alquerias from the Moorish era, with their abundant water and many cultivated riches, were mixed with newer estates that had been feudally governed by the descendants of King Jaime’s noblemen. Imagine as many as 1300 lovely castle-like buildings scattered all over the island! And lots of them are still here today!
The ‘Senyors’ where the descendants of the first Spanish king of Mallorca. They were instrumental in the creation of more landowners among the local people too.
Amo and Madona
At the ‘possessió’ the senyors had a right hand man, known as the ‘Amo’, who was responsible for the way the farm and the estate were run. His wife the ‘Madona’ was in charge of the domestic arrangements, making food for the ‘Senyors’ as well as the ‘pagesos’ who farmed the land and did the work. The workmen lived simply and carried out the many tasks. They took care of the horses, cows, pigs, chickens and herded the sheep. They were there to sow the grain, often aided by extra workforce when necessary, plant the trees, make repairs, pick the almonds, grain, seed, olives and fruit. They also needed to be ready to fight whenever there were pirates around…
The courtyard was the centre of a lot of the activity at the ‘possessió’ back in the day. The horses, olive mill, grain mill and cellars were all located around it.
It was of vital importance to have a place in the courtyard where one could fetch water, and it was customary to have a large tree or two to provide some welcome shade there. The nicest finca adornments, such as larger windows and balconies, were placed with a view of the happenings in the courtyard.
Nowadays the courtyards at Mallorcan fincas are still the centre of attention. The courtyards offer a fabulous place to socialize. People love having their dinner celebration at a corporate event, wedding or private party in a romantic Mallorcan finca courtyard.
Mallorca is unique. Most of the old beautiful ‘possessiós’ from days long gone, still exist. Many of them even belong to the same old families.Today a number of fincas are still ancestral family homes, but a lot of them have been given new purposes too.
Farming has become very expensive, and time has taken its toll on the fabulous fragile buildings in need of careful restauration and love. In order to get funds to keep the ‘possessiós’ beautiful. some owners open their doors to weddings and parties.
Others have transformed their ancestral homes into agrotourism hotels, museums or vineyard bodegas. The fascinating fincas are moving with the times.
Perhaps you are like the creators of this magazine. We visited some ‘possessiós’ in Mallorca about 26 years ago, and have been under the finca spell ever since. Nowadays we create events in them, photograph them, write about them in Estate Mallorca Magazine and are also more than happy to help you find a finca mansion of your own to buy. Contact us here
On these pages we will present a number of fantastic Mallorcan ‘possessiós’ all over the island. The first of the fincas you can read about straight away – it is an article about the amazing Finca Son Togores – a beautiful venue for events owned by the Cañellas family.
Text: Charlotte von Proschwitz.
Photo: Thomas Engstrom.