One of the first things I like to do in a new place to get my bearings and scope it out is to go for a long run or hike. There's nothing quite like haphazardly running around a place you've never been before to help orient yourself and see what there is to see.
Every day on my way to the bus station there's a big mountain to my right and at the very top there is this castle-looking building. So yesterday, my housemate and I decided to find out what exactly it was.
About five minutes from the center of Pollença (and on the other side of the MA-2200, the main highway leading to Puerto de Pollença), there is a beautiful trail going up the Puig De María, or hill of María, leading to the Santuari de la Mare de Déu, a sanctuary that was first a chapel, then a monastery, and now a refuge/hostel for hikers and backpackers. The chapel was originally built in 1348 and the monastery added in 1362, and it's incredible how preserved it is after all of those years.
The hike up the Puig De María only takes about 45 minutes but is fairly steep. It consists of a paved trail at the beginning and a rocky/jagged stone path closer to the top (you can drive your car or ride your bike a good portion of the way up but have to walk the last 10 minutes or so). It's a beautiful path surrounded by trees, shrubbery, and a few benches along the way. It almost looks like something out of Game of Thrones (yes, I love the show). The trail winds back and forth and eventually takes you up about 330m high to the sanctuary.
The sanctuary itself is big and beautiful with a big courtyard at the front. Here, you can look out over the entire city of Pollença and the ocean. I have a thing for old doors and beautiful antique-looking archways which were not in short supply here.
Towards the back of the sanctuary, there are a few picnic tables that give you a view of the entire northern coastline of Mallorca, all the way to Cap de Formentor. We stopped to eat a sandwich here and had some friendly goats come up to us to try to see if they could get a bite or two. They weren't shy at all and came right up to the camera to have a look at us.
After, we had a look inside the sanctuary which is just as stunning as the outside. For those not too keen on sharing their snacks with the goats, the sanctuary has a restaurant that serves food and drinks at certain times throughout the day and offers chairs and tables that overlook the fields/farms that border the city of Pollença.
You can also walk around the original chapel which is decked out in candle-light, ancient paintings, and elaborate altars. In the main hallway, you can also view pots, pans, coins, and machinery that has been preserved from years past. At the very back of the sanctuary, there's a dining hall with long tables spanning the length of the room and huge windows with spectacular views of the coast. To think that this view was just an ordinary site at dinner for those at the monastery...amazing.
Later as we were walking back down the trail, we both noted that the day far exceeded our expectations as far as the uniqueness and beauty of the hike, the sanctuary, and the views. All in all, my advice: take snacks, enjoy the vistas, and make friends with the goats.