A week in Mallorca (Part 3) – Puiga Massanella

The highest mountain in Majorca is called Puig Major (1447 m), but unfortunately because of military use, it is out of bounds. We therefore had to settle for the second highest peak, Puiga Massanella at 1382 m elevation. We parked the car in Lluc (famous for its ancient monestry) at an elevation of 527 m and started the ascent along a well-built track, originally intended for mules. This track continued far further up the mountain than we would have expected, crossing significant stone embankments in places. Soon it became clear why this track was so important.

Historically, ice was a necessary commodity in Majorca, and because it could only be obtained from snowfalls, the Majorcan people went to great lengths to preserve that which fell in the winter months. High on the slopes of Massanella, above 1000 m, the Majorcan’s created ice houses. These structures were around 15 m long, 5 m wide and were buried into the ground by about 10 m. They were lined with stones and were raised above ground level at both ends. Snow that accumulated in these depressions remained far longer than the snow on the ground and hence could be used into the warmer seasons. The mule track was hence so important, because it provided a means to transport the snow/ice down the hillside. We saw perhaps 6 ice houses, but the pictures below show one that has recently been restored.

The Galileu snow house. Built in 1692 and used to retain snow/ice for use in warmer seasons
The ice houses are about 10 m deep and must have been built into solid limestone!
Ascending Puiga Massanella

Eventually, after a rocky ascent of the final 50 m, we arrived at the summit of Puiga Massanella. It was rather chilly on top, so after peering down a pot hole (complete with spits) we started to make our way down. This walk turned out to be really interesting for yet another reason. On our way down we detoured to take a look at Font S’Avenc, a natural spring. I was expecting a murky puddle, but instead the spring was at the bottom of a cave, which could be reached via a set of stone stairs. The water was fresh too, unlike the salty water that comes out of the taps in Pollenca. Richard tried it, whilst I stuck to the bottled water that we’d brought with us on the walk.

Near the summirt of Puiga Massanella (1382 m)