From Palma, the road to the Sierra Norte or Serra de Tramuntana begins by crossing an open, sunny plain. The valley slowly closes
in until it runs into the southern side of the Coll de Sóller (Sóller Pass). At this point, an hour’s ride from Palma, is the house, sheltered
by the surrounding mountains, hence the Arabic name of Alfàbia (vat). However, midday offers a splendid view of Palma’s bay.
Not far from the house, but higher by more than 60 metres, runs a spring that does not dry up even in the severest days of the driest
summers. This font is supplied by the Serra, which at this particular place takes the name of Serra d’Alfàbia (1,068m).
This difference in elevation gave rise to three grain mills, registered since the thirteenth century, which functioned with wooden wheels.
There are still perfectly recognizable remains. The area’s high rainfall and the Serra’s protection from the cold north wind bring together
species with such different demands as fir and bougainvillea, cedar and geranium. Historical references indicate that Alfàbia was a residence of the wali (Arabic viceroy) of Mallorca. Touring the place, one can easily imagine that it was, since it would be quite difficult to find a spot on the island that rivals its qualities. Access from the Palma-Sóller road, at km 17, is a wide avenue or Romantic paseo de salón, with three lanes bordered by large plane
trees, that comes up near the cIastra (the typical patio of Mallorcan country houses of a certain importance, called possessions).
But before entering the patio, continuing to the left, visitors find a cascade, the first encounter with water, an essential element in any garden deeply rooted in the Hispano-Arabic tradition, as Alfàbia is. Also in this tradition is the combination of fruit- and nut -bearing plantings with merely ornamental or aromatic vegetation within the garden walls. Beside this cascade steps lead us to another avenue, lined with palms, along whose sides two small alfagras (little irrigation ditches) flow, prelude to the feeling of peace and tranquility of the inner space of the garden. At the highest part of the avenue is the façade giving onto the pergola, reconstructed at the beginning of the eighteenth century to the plans created by royal architect Isidro Velázquez, which are kept in the house.
In the centre of the façade is an old coat-of-arms with a “Hercules invictus”, below which there are a jet of water and a basin that share the supply of the two alfagras mentioned above. To one side is a bird cage, whose existence is documented since the seventeenth century, and to the other is the cistern called “the queen’s bath”, which supplies the water to the jeux d’eau. The Mallorcan- and Italian-influenced pergola has seventy-two columns. Half of its length is adorned with twenty four stone hydres, which fall into twelve distinct variants of the same pattern. The numerous jets from these hydras cross one another, turning the shimmer and murmur of the water into a gift for the senses.
“una casa con historia, un jardín con encanto”
Carretera Sóller, Km 17
1 / MARCH – 31 / OCTOBER
Every day 09:30h / 18:30h
* Last entry 60 min. before closing time.