Capdepera, an ancient fortified town that guarded the Mediterranean
Located in the Llevant region, at the eastern end of the island, Capdepera is a quiet town surrounded by mountains that remains untouched by the tourism that has developed around it since the sixties. The panoramic views that can be enjoyed from its medieval castle are one of its main attractions and the reason for its existence. The decision of King James II to found it was greatly influenced by its strategic location, which allowed for perfect control of possible invading attacks and maritime traffic towards the neighbouring island of Menorca.
The first settlers of Capdepera
The proof that its strategic enclave has been highly valued since ancient times is evident in the fact that up to 41 archaeological sites — dated between the 10th and 2nd centuries BC — have been found in the area of the current town of Capdepera, an area that also includes the urban centres of Cala Ratjada and Canyamel. Therefore, these sites show that the area was inhabited during the pre-Talaiotic and Talaiotic periods.
However, its foundation as a stable town came about as a result of a decree by King James II of Majorca in the year 1300. This ruling, included in the Ordinations, also required the foundation of eleven other towns on the island. In the specific case of Capdepera, the mandate stated that it must be a fortified town, since its purpose, as we mentioned, was to protect maritime routes.
The name of the town comes from Latin Caput Petrae, which means Stone Cape; Cap de la Pera, in medieval Catalan.
The Capdepera castle
The most visited and emblematic monument of the town is its castell, which visually dominates the urban nucleus of Capdepera, as well as the whimsical shapes of the Majorcan coast and the Menorcan canal. Construction of the fortification began in 1300, and its walls were finished at the end of the century. Chronicles show that in the 16th century there were a total of 125 homes built within its walls, and that in the 18th century it was used as a military barracks.
The points of greatest interest within the Capdepera castle are the church of Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza (constructed in the 14th century and extended in the 16th) and the tower of Miquel Nunis (a defensive element from the Islamic period), as both offer the best panoramic views of the surroundings and allow you to understand what led King James II to construct it.
Also noteworthy among the vestiges of the castle is its Gothic wall, to which four annexed towers were installed (the Ses Dames tower, the Costerans tower, the Sa Boira tower and the Banya tower), which reinforced the curtain walls of the southern and eastern sectors, that is, the flanks via which, according to logic, the sieges of the fortification would begin. Also worth noting are the two current entrances to the castle, which are the Rei Jaume portal and the Portalet, both covered with pointed vaults and endowed with machicolations (the cantilevered structures above the entrance arch from which attackers could be observed and provoked).
Another town’s attractions is one of the best golf courses on the island. We are talking about Capdepera Golf, a club located between the town of Artà and the town of Capdepera, ideal for enjoying this sport in the beautiful surroundings of the Llevant mountain range.
The course, designed by the American architect Dan Maples, has 18 holes and offers options for all types of players. The easiest holes are those located in the valley area, while the most difficult ones are located between the Llevant mountain range. Of all of them, the most spectacular is the 15th, as it has extraordinary views of the valley and the coast.
The best beaches in Capdepera
Despite its small size, Capdepera offers visitors cultural proposals, sports options and, of course, lovely beaches where you can enjoy the Mediterranean climate. Among the most well-known are Cala Agulla, with more than 500 meters of white sand and surrounded by pine forests, and Cala Mesquida, which has an area of dunes that is protected given its high environmental value.
Two other popular beaches are Son Moll, which offers visitors easy access, and Canyamel, located just 500 metres from the caves of Artà. Finally, anyone looking for somewhere special, a beach that is more secluded and quiet, should go to Cala Gat. This is a small sandy beach with clear waters that invite you to soak in them and let them wash away anything that may be causing you stress.
Restaurants in Capdepera, tasting the local gastronomy
And if you want to round off your visit to Capdepera by tasting the traditional dishes of Majorcan cuisine, here are some very recommended gourmet proposals:
- Andreu Genestra Restaurant (Son Moltó, carretera Cala Mesquida, Km 1). The establishment has 1 Michelin star and here they prepare local dishes using products harvested from the restaurant farm. It is therefore an ideal restaurant for trying traditional Majorcan recipes that have been updated with innovative techniques.
- Es Coll d’Os Restaurant (Cala Ratjada, carrer l’Esperança, 5). This restaurant, located in Cala Ratjada, just 400 metres from the sea, offers a very informal and rustic atmosphere that is quintessentially Majorcan. Also, if the weather is good, you can have lunch or dinner in its pleasant gardens. Its lamb and local fish will delight the diners.
- Can Simoneta (Carretera Artà-Canyamel, Km 8). If you’re in the mood for a true gourmet treat, chef Pablo Tamarit’s restaurant offers excellent Mediterranean dishes with creative touches. All of this overlooking the sea and in a beautiful setting surrounded by olive and pine trees.
As you can see, Capdepera has everything you need to inspire you to plan a trip and get to know the eastern coast of Majorca. Need we say more?