Carthusian Monastery of Valldemossa

Photographer: Photomodo - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Creative Commons

Photographer: Photomodo – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Creative Commons

The Palace of Rei Sanç forms the original part of La Cartoixa (Carthusian monastery) in Valldemossa. King Jaume II of Mallorca commissioned the building of the palace and it was finished in 1310, allowing the King´s son, who suffered from asthma, to enjoy his favourite pastime here – hunting with falcons. In 1399 King Martí l´Humà passed the palace and its grounds to the Carthusian order, founded by Saint Bru, in order that the monastery be established. The 17th century was a period of prosperity for the Carthusian Monastery of Valldemossa, and it was at this time that it was decided to carry out an ambitious expansion project, which was never finished in line with the original plan. Owing to political tensions following the suppression of religious orders, which was decreed by the liberal Juan Álvarez de Mendizabal in the 19th century, the monks were definitively secularised. The State took on the administration of the monastery, renting out the monastic cells to visitors and holidaymakers from Palma de Mallorca. In 1838-39 the composer Frederick Chopin and writer George Sand came to the village, where they lived in the monastery´s cells for several months. The monastery site was later sold in nine different parts to private owners and the church was passed on to the bishopric, with this ownership structure still in force today.

A large part of the monastery site can be visited, and it is one of the most visited monuments in Mallorca. There is a 17th century store next to the courtyard of El Pati de les Murteres, and along the corridors, which lead from the courtyard to the cells, there are reminders of Frederick Chopin and George Sand´s stay here, such as the Plevel piano which the composer used in the composition of some of his pieces, and there are also remnants of the life of the monks here. In their cells, the monks had a small vestibule, a study where they slept, a workshop for their crafts which contained a revolving window, via which they received food, with a strange system for indicating the amount of bread they wanted, and a walled-off garden where they grew vegetables. They weren´t allowed to speak for more than half an hour per week and they weren´t allowed to any eat meat except tortoise meat. The monastery site also houses the Municipal Museum, which has a Guasp printer from 1622, a room dedicated to Archduke Lluís Salvador of Àustria, another room dedicated to painters who have lived in and painted the Serra de Tramuntana, and the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art.

La Cartoixa also functions as a cultural centre and each year the Chopin Festival is held here, along with performances of traditional dances by the Parado group of Valldemossa at the Palace of Rei Sanç, amongst other events.

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