Els Calderers is signposted from the Palma to Manacor road (6 miles west of Manacor). The estate was acquired by the Calderers family in 1285 but the house we see today was built by the Veri family in the 18th century. The Sentmenat family motto is ‘To Want is to Win’ and they wanted a representation 18th and 19th century life on the island. So they collected period furniture and furnishings, items of art and lots of contemporary household items to create the museum we can visit today.
A huge ivy clad stone façade looks down over the gardens and pond. The hallway leads into the courtyard where you can see how the three storeys surround the shaded courtyard, or ‘clastra’. The large vaulted reception room is decorated with 18th Century furniture and close by is a full wine cellar. There was also a family chapel, so the family could attend private masses. The men’s withdrawing room is filled with hunting paraphernalia while the head of the house had an office and archives room, where they could study the estate’s papers.
Passing through the kitchen filled with period cooking utensils, we step down into the dining room where there is a fine table set for 18 people. Next are the music room and the ladies withdrawing room. The sumptuous communal lounge is the last room on the ground floor. Climbing the stairs we enter the lord’s and lady’s dressing rooms and bedrooms, which have clothing from back in the day. The rest of the bedrooms are filled with exhibits of Mallorcan life, ranging from guns to toy soldiers and from clothing to dolls.
The roof terrace give access to the rudimentary servant’s quarters. Passing through a huge granary filled with period farming implements, we find the estate manager’s quarters. The tour ends in the shop selling traditional Mallorca products while outside we can explore the barn, stables, bakery, laundry and smithy.
People have lived in the Petra area since pre-historic times but it was the Romans who gave the village its name. Petra comes from the Latin word for stone and the local quarries provided building material for their villas. Life on the Mallorcan plain was challeging in the past, as droughts decimated harvests. The local saying was ‘the Devil surrendered in Petra’, symbolising how hard people had to work to survive.
Petra was the home of the famous missionary Father Junipero Serra. Miguel was born in 1713, he was baptised in Saint Peter’s Church and he went to Saint Bernard’s church school. After serving as priest in Palma under his adopted name of Father Junipero, Serra led a group of missionaries to New Spain; what we now know as Mexico. They established missions in the Sierra Gordo for ten years before they was sent to California in 1767. Serra’s group set up ten missions over the next twenty years and some of them grew into famous cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacrament. The street between Serra’s home and his church school is lined with tiled pictures of the missions.
Petra is a sleepy village but comes alive on the third Sunday of September, when the village turns out to pay homage to Father Serra. Serra’s house was given to the city of San Francisco and it was initially managed by the ‘Society of California Pioneers’. Today it is managed by the ‘Society of Friends of Father Serra’. The Centre of Juniperian Studies is next door and its museum is devoted to Serra’s life. You need to go to the nearby house indicated on the instruction panel by the entrance gate to get access.
To the southwest of Petra is Bonany Hill. It was named after the landowners, the Burgues family, until a figure of the Virgin Mary was found on summit. Every Easter the villagers walked to the top of Maria Hill and prayed for a good harvest. After several droughts they were rewarded with a bumper crop in 1609 and it became known as ‘Good Year Hill’; Puig Bonany. Donations resulted in a chapel being built at the summit and Father Juníper Serra gave his last sermon in it before heading for Mexico. The people of Petra still walk up the hill to pray for a good harvest every Easter Tuesday.
What’s On in March?
The Oris Classic Car Rally is held on 8, 9 and 10 March. There are fourteen stages covering over 300 miles around the island. However, the base for the rally is in Puerto Portals and you can check out the cars down at the marina.
The Twelve Tenors will sing all kinds of music in Palma Auditorium on Friday 16 March.
St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Santa Ponsa on Sunday 18 March with live music, stalls and entertainment along the sea front.
Holy Week or ‘Semana Santa’ starts on 25 March. There is a week of activities relating to Easter. The hooded penitents walk through Palma on the evening of Maundy Thursday. Then the Passion of Christ is acted out in front of Palma Cathedral on Good Friday followed by another solemn procession through other streets of the city. The main Mass is held in Palma Cathedral on Easter Sunday.
Every town and village celebrates Easter, so keep a look out for your local events. There will also be plenty of traditional Mallorcan pastries to feast on after forty days of Lent. The ‘panades’ are the savoury variety while ‘rubiols’ are the sweet version.
Andrew Rawson, Mallorca Days Out
www.mallorcadays out.com and email@example.com