The municipality of Artà, which is situated in the north east of Mallorca, occupies most of the island´s eastern tip, covering an area of 140 km2 and running along 25 km of coast. The area is mountainous, with the highest peak rising to 562m, and it forms part of the Llevant Natural Park.
Artà is one of the few areas of Mallorca which has long sandy beaches which are not built up; this is due to the residents´ awareness of the importance of protecting the region. It goes without saying that these natural areas, where the sea always plays an important role, are the great attraction of both Artà and the island of Mallorca as a whole.
At the upper part of the old-town of Artà are vast ancestral homes; these either belonged to local landowning gentry or were built by returning emigrants who had made their fortune in South America. There are also more basic houses, which were built in accordance with the traditional architectural style of the island and which give the streets in the town an air of times gone by. Many visitors come here, and there are some small hotels and a good range of cafés and restaurants, mainly located in the pedestrian zone as you approach the town from Palma de Mallorca, along the streets of Carrer Ciutat and Carrer Antoni Blanes; also in this zone is Na Batlessa – an old ancestral home which has been turned into a cultural centre, with a stock of pieces documenting the work of the painter Miquel Barceló. On the same property stands the modern building of the municipal theatre.
Sant Salvador is a walled area with a sanctuary within it; it was known in times of Moorish rule on Mallorca, and thus predates the Catalan conquest of the island. It is located at the top of a hill and is Artà´s most emblematic building. The wall, which encloses an area of 4,000m2, is one metre thick and has two towers. The sanctuary dates back to the 13th century and contains a sculpture of the Mother of God sat with the baby Jesus; the sculpture is Romanesque – probably from the 12th century – and was brought from Catalonia. The current sanctuary building was constructed in the 19th century, as the previous building was demolished after being used as a hospital during the plague which hit the county in the summer of 1820. It takes the form of a Latin cross and falls within the neoclassical style, with the pictures on the dome being of particular note.
The parish church jumps into view as you reach Artà; it is below the hill of Sant Salvador and there is a 180-step stairway which leads up to the walled sanctuary from here. Work was started on the church in 1573 on top of the site of an older church and the building was finally completed in 1818. It has a rectangular form and a single nave, with chapels between the buttresses and the cross-vaulted roof. Its architectural style has many Gothic elements, despite being from the Baroque period, which is the style that has dictated the interior altarpieces.
On the street of Carrer de la Creu we find the Franciscan convent of Sant Antoni de Pàdua, which was built in the 17th century in the Baroque style. The church has a single nave and a barrel-vaulted ceiling, with 5 chapels along each side. Next to the church there is a cloister formed by galleries of semi-circular arches.
The Talayotic settlement of Ses Païsses, which is located just under a kilometre from Artà in a holm-oak wood on a small hill and which is thought to have been home to around 324 people, represents one of the most important remains of pre-historic life on Mallorca. It has been estimated that the settlement´s wall was built between 1000 and 800 BC. It is well signposted and can be accessed from a street running off the street which leads to Capdepera.