Daily Archives: 25 July 2007

Time For a Walk to Lluc



You might want to get ready for this year’s walk from Palma to the Lluc Monastery. The date is set for Saturday, 4th August. It will be the 33rd Marxa de Güell a Lluc a peu.

As you all know, Spain is a country deeply routed in religion. One aspect of this devotion is the abundance of pilgrimages. Think of the most popular peregrinaje – the walk to El Rocío, in Andalucía. Or the most testing one, the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the St James’s walk.

Mallorca has its own share of pilgrimages, too.

The most popular devotional walk here is the Marxa de Güell a Lluc a peu. The first Marxa was in 1974 by Tolo Güell, a bar owner in Palma’s Calle Aragón. Tolo and about 30 friends set out on foot to march to the Monastery of Lluc, some 48 km away from their starting point. In 1990, there were 30.000 pilgrims participating, not all of them religiously motivated. Last year, there were about 12.000 walkers, of which about 9.000 made it the whole distance. This year’s walk starts at 23:00 h, on Saturday, 4th August, at Plaza Güell in Palma, and those who last the enduring task, might get to the Santuari de Lluc between 07h00 and 11h00 the next morning (Sunday).

Lluc is Mallorca’s spiritual centre, where the Gothic XIV century image of the island’s patron saint (Mare de Déu de Lluc: Mother of God of Lluc) is worshipped. The name Lluc comes from the Latin word lucus, meaning sacred forest, which has led experts to believe that there must have been a pagan sanctuary here. In 1246, immediately after the Christian conquest of Mallorca, there is documentation of a chapel dedicated to Mare de Déu at this spot. However, the Renaissance-style sanctuary which now stands here dates from the 17th century.

If you fancy a bit of penitence yourself – in case you missed that opportunity during the Easter processions – you might give this walk a thought. I hope you have practiced and are in good shape for a long walk. But if you are a bit feeble – I would understand, really – drive to Selva, for instance, and just walk the last few kilometres. It is the thought that counts, after all.

Selva is a municipality in the Northern part of Mallorca’s Tramuntana mountains. It covers an area of 47,5 km² and has 2,983 inhabitants, at the last count. The setting between the impressive mountains and a lush valley makes this village rather attractive. Selva is probably one of the villages in Mallorca that best kept its identity and that has least succumbed to foreign influence and tourism. Selva is probably too far from the sea to be more popular with the Jones’s, a small detail that most likely is not about to change any time soon.

A small church dedicated to Sant Llorenç (Sancti Laurenti de Silver) already existed around 1248, and was documented in the papal bull of Pope Innocent IV. Sant Llorenç is Selva’s patron saint, who is honoured on the 10th of August.

In 1300, King Jaume II declared Selva a town. Also towards the beginning of the 14th century, the building of the new church began, although the elegant façade of the older church can still be seen. This new church was built around 1600. The apse was lengthened, and the majestic steps in front of the façade were built. In 1855, a fire burnt down parts of the church, after which it was rebuilt to its current looks.

The best known event in Selva is the annual Herbal Fair, the Fira de ses herbes, held during the second weekend of June. Make an effort to go next year; it is quite marvellous. Selva’s connection with herbs is also the reason why an association, founded in 1999, worked very hard to make a Jardí Medicinal Ramon Llull reality. Sadly, in the end this project came to no fruition, and had to be abandoned after a few years.

The fair and Fiesta de la Creu is held in Camareta de Selva on the 3rd of May. This has become, over the years, a popular fiesta including an exhibition of craftwork.

Of course, a visit to Lluc is worth your while at any time of the year. By no means should you go there only on the pretext of a worship. You can drive there by car, if walking is too strenuous, especially now in the summer. The famous Blavets boy choir sings in Lluc monastery every morning. The museum of the monastery is open daily 10h00 to 17h30. And if you fancy spending a night or two, there are plenty of monks’ cells converted for accommodation. And do not miss a visit to the restaurant there. You won’t regret it.

Have fun, whichever route you choose.