STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
MEMBERS of the public will soon be able to enjoy one of Majorca's finest properties, the Raixa country estate at the foot of the Serra de Tramuntana in Bunyola.

The Spanish Biodiversity Foundation, the Council of Majorca and the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) yesterday signed a deal to restore the finca to its former glory and are hoping that members of the public will be able to visit Raixa from September.

Raixa is one of the most significant fincas on the island, prospering thanks to an abundant water supply. Its history goes back to the time of the Moors. In the eighteenth century, Cardinal Antoni Despuig i Dameto, transformed the old finca into a magnificent Italian-style palace, surrounded by some of the finest gardens on the island. The finca was bought by the Council of Majorca at the beginning of 2002.

A number of films have been shot on the property over the years, including the film of the Agatha Christie novel, Evil Under the Sun, starring Peter Ustinov. Another was Presence of Mind, based on the Henry James novel and starring Harvey Keitel and Lauren Bacall .

The Biodiversity Foundation and UIB will share the 137'000 euro cost of the restoration project, while the Council of Majorca will provide technical support. The work will be carried out by participants in the Oxigeno Project, which is designed to reinsert former prisoners into society and the workforce.

The President of the Council of Majorca, Francina Armengol, said yesterday during the signing ceremony that she hoped the finca would be open to the public by September. She said that Raixa was one of the “most important heritage sites” on the island. She said that owing to its history, the place it had in the mind of Majorcans, and its architectural and natural beauty, it was “necessary” that the finca be opened up to the public. Once the project is complete, visitors will be able to take guided tours of the property. At the same time, Armengol said it was “an honour” to be able to restore and convert the finca into a first-class centre for environmental studies. This is just one of a number of different components that will make up the finca once the project is complete.

The Rector of UIB, Montserrat Casas, said that the finca had become one of Majorca's most important attractions. She said it was very important that the gardens were restored in order to help Majorca's tourist industry.

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