As with any culture, Majorca's is defined by its history. The oldest physical manifestations of this culture are pre-Roman, most notably the Talaiotic sites of a period that started towards the end of the second millennium BC. Evidence of the Talaiotic culture can be found all over the island, an example being Son Fornés in Montuiri. This archaeological site has the largest preserved talaiot in Mallorca as well as a museum.
From Roman times, the stand-out site is that of Pollentia, the Roman city in Alcudia. This was one of two cities that the Romans built - Palma was the other. Excavation at Pollentia started in earnest in the early 1950s. The theatre is one of its features; it is now occasionally used for productions in the summer.
These sites aside, and without forgetting the mark that three centuries of Muslim occupation left, the island's culture was truly shaped by the Christian conquerors of the thirteenth century. Jaume I's forces took Madina Mayurqa (Palma) on New Year's Eve, 1229. Jaume was the King of Aragon, and thus commenced the process by which Mallorca embraced and moulded Catalan culture. An island dialect, Mallorquí, was to be a product.
The conquerors built their monuments. Palma Cathedral, designed predominantly in a Catalan Gothic style, replaced the mosque. The Almudaina Palace in Palma was once a Muslim fortress. It was rebuilt along similar architectural guidelines as the Cathedral - Catalan Gothic. Away from the capital, churches were erected. Lluc Sanctuary was developed from a chapel of 1246. In 1276, and with the patronage of Jaume II, the religious philosopher Ramon Llull founded Miramar in Valldemossa, a monastery and college for the learning of Arabic and Llull's "Ars", his universal method of reasoning.
Spiritual Majorca was to meet strategic Majorca. The walls of Alcudia were built from the turn of the fourteenth century, as was Capdepera Castle. The Castell de Santueri in Felanitx, a hilltop fortress, has a history dating back to Roman times. It was rebuilt after the conquest, primarily as defence against pirate attacks. Alaro Castle was originally built by the Muslim occupiers. There was subsequently a military garrison, which was stationed there until the eighteenth century.
Within a hundred years of the conquest, Christianity had taken deep root as had institutions and administration which had come with the conquerors. Majorca was for a time an independent kingdom before forming part of the Crown of Aragon, something that was to last until 1715. But even the dismantling of this crown didn't disturb the close ties with the Catalan lands on the Iberian mainland, and these ties remain to this day.
One of the institutions was the College of Merchants. An island that was obviously reliant on maritime trading needed its official body and its marketplace. La Lonja in Palma was that place, built between 1420 and 1452 in a Gothic style to the instructions of the architect Guillem Sagrera. Considered to be an architectural masterwork, it is another cultural attraction in the city to have mediaeval roots. Overlooking the city is Bellver Castle, originally built on the orders of Jaume II in the early fourteenth century.
If Jaume I initiated Christian Catalan culture in Majorca, then Ramon Llull firmly established it.
Llull was born in 1232, three years after the conquest. He famously had a religious epiphany when he was around 30 years of age and spent the rest of his life dedicated to religious philosophy and thinking, to writing, and to science. He was a mediaeval polymath, a man with many strings to his bow. The first novel in Catalan, "Blanquerna", is attributed to him, while his determination to prove the truths of Christianity led to the creation of the Llullian circle - it has been suggested that this was the first computer.
This device, which comprised paper discs with letters and symbols, was intended to show undeniable truths. It was a logical approach to religious reasoning, one designed to make Muslims believe in Christianity. This approach, which he had invented around 1275, was later described in his work "Ars generalis ultima", also known as "Ars Magna" - the ultimate general art.
Llull died aged 83 or 84, the exact time of his death is open to question. The cause of death is less debatable - from injuries he suffered when he was stoned in Tunisia when preaching his Christian mission.
There is a Ramon Llull route in Majorca, which takes in sites closely associated with him. As well as Miramar, this includes the Puig de Randa hill in Algaida, the Monasterio de la Real in Palma, and the Sant Francesc Basilica, also in Palma, which holds his tomb.
Across Majorca, there are staging posts in the island's history. The Els Calderers Museum is a manor house in Sant Joan. The original estate dates back to mediaeval times - to 1285 in fact, when archives noted that it belonged to the Calderers family. The mansion that now exists is from the eighteenth century, when it was acquired by the noble Verí family. The house is a monument to life as it was in that century.
In Bunyola, there is the Raixa finca. It was originally the possession of Ponce IV, the Count of Ampurias. He was given it in 1234. But the Raixa story really began with Cardinal Antoni Despuig in the eighteenth century. A great collector, the Cardinal transformed the estate into an Italian-style villa. He filled it with his collection, and the gardens were landscaped, replete with the monumental staircase dedicated to the god Apollo.
The finca was declared an asset in the cultural interest in 1993 and it accommodates the Tramuntana Mountains Natural Landscape interpretation centre.
Ramon Llull's Miramar monastery was acquired in the nineteenth century by the Austrian Archduke Louis Salvador. He was a very significant player in the island's development, who compiled the volumes of "Die Balearen", an encyclopaedic work that contained information about everything that was worth knowing about Majorca. It is said of him that he brought the first tourists to Majorca. Mostly these were friends from intellectual circles, who were accommodated in the various properties he acquired, one of which was Son Marroig in Deya, another asset in the cultural interest and one that he redeveloped.
Over the years, Son Marroig has become one of the iconic images of Majorca. This is due to the Ionian marble temple that serves as a viewing point across an expanse of the Mediterranean and beneath which is the small Sa Foradada peninsula with the hole in its rock formation.
Since 1927, Son Marriog has been a museum dedicated to the life and times of the Archduke.