High in the Tramuntana Mountains near Deia is a large house called Son Marroig, or Red Sea House. If you visited the house at sunset, you would see why it is called that because it has some of the best views of the north coast. Today it houses the Ludwig Salvator Museum, a memorial to a remarkable man who came to Mallorca to get over the loss of one love only to discover another.
Ludwig had been born in Florence in 1847, son of Leopold III of Tuscany and Marie Antoinette de Bourbon. He was also a grandson of Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany and great-grandson of Emperor Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke of Tuscany. It was an impressive heritage, which gave Ludwig the title, Archduke Salvator von Habsburg-Lothringen.
Young Ludwig lived a privileged life and although he married Princess Mathilde when he came of age, disaster soon struck. The young princess sneaked off to smoke a cigarette during a parade and unfortunately set fire to her clothes. She died from severe burns, leaving the Archduke heartbroken.
Ludwig retired from court in Vienna and visited Mallorca under his title the Count of Neuendorf. He immediately fell in love with the island. Dressed in peasant clothes, he explored the mountains, taking notes and making sketches. Over time he sailed his two steam-yachts, Nixe 1 and Nixe 2 around the Mediterranean Sea.
Some might call him an aristocratic hippy while others might say he was an ecologist, ahead of his time. But he was interested in the environment when European countries were fixated on industry; it was an era when conservation was virtually unheard of. Altogether he wrote around eighty books but his seminal work was the multi-volume series ‘The Balearics’ (1884), a study of Mallorca’s culture and wildlife which took over twenty years to write.
In 1872 Ludwig bought his first property, Miramar, and over the years he bought more, including the neighbouring Son Marroig. He also acquired other estates along the north coast, saving them and their ancient olive tree plantations from development.
Ludwig did not marry again but he had several relationships and although is not known how many children he fathered, it is said he cared for them all. His longest relationship was with his housekeeper, Catalina Homar. She convinced Ludwig to let her make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and sailed across the Mediterranean his steamship, Nixe 2. Unfortunately, Catalina contracted leprosy in Jerusalem and died in 1905. Ludwig’s idyllic life ended in August 1914 when World War I broke out. He was ordered him home and never return to Mallorca again. He died in March 1915 at the family castle in Bohemia and was buried in Vienna.
A large part of the Archduke’s estate is still in the hands of the actor Michael Douglas, although it is for sale if you are feeling extravagant. It includes the Moorish style palace ‘S’Estaca’ (which translates as ‘The Pile’) which Ludwig converted from a ruined manor house.
The Archduke’s main residence was Son Marroig and it has been preserved by the family of Ludwig’s secretary, Antoni Vives, since 1927. The house is a memorial to the Archduke and his works. You can find it two miles west of Deia. A 16th Century watchtower overlooks the property while a white marble Greek temple style rotunda stands in the gardens. Down below at sea level is the Sa Foradada peninsula (Pierced Rock peninsula) with its large hole in the rock. You can also dine in the restaurant which overlooks the peninsula (the house and restaurant are only open weekends in the winter). Check www.sonmarroig.com for details.
What’s On November?
Final details of events across Mallorca are often decided before the Islander goes to press. So what follows is a reminder about the exciting and varied events around the island in November. Keep a look out in the Majorca Daily Bulletin for full details about what is on around the island. The online newspaper also keeps its diary of events up to day.
Halloween is a great time for dressing up and partying. In some resorts it is celebrated with end f season parties. The Pirates Adventure cabaret show has a spookily themed party on 31 October.
1 November is the Day of the Dead in the Catholic Church calendar. People visit their local cemeteries to remember the deceased members of their families. Many villages had religious ceremonies associated with the occasion.
Hopefully, the British fiesta known as Bonfire Night will be celebrated in Magaluf, as it was last year. Keep a look out for details of this night time firework party.
There is the week long fiesta in Inca in mid-November called Dijous Bo or Good Thursday. The First Fair was in October but the second and third Fairs end with the largest market on the island which is attended by around 200,000 people. Apart from the usual market stalls there are all sorts of local traditions, food and drink on offer.
The weekend of 18 and 19 November the village of Caimari holds a fair dedicated to the humble olive. The village is in the foot of the Tramuntana Mountains, in the north-east of the island. The fair includes food, folk dancing and exhibitions.
The feast of Santa Cecilia on 22 November is celebrated with a series of concerts in churches and cultural centre around the island.
Bunyola, Campos, Les Salines and Rapita celebrate the Revival of Santa Catalina with bonfires and night time fiestas around 25 November.
Andrew Rawson – Mallorca Days Out
+34 630 454 009 – firstname.lastname@example.org