Majorca: History

Most Popular Spanish Mediterranean Island

Majorca History

Majorca’s history is assumed to have begun around 150 million years ago. Majorca was joined to the peninsula as an underwater island and one hundred and forty nine million years later, more or less, its present arrangement came into being. The mountain ranges of the northwest are believed to be alpine.

It is estimated that the first pre-historic people landed on the islands about 5000 years ago. They arrived from the East but their origin is not clear. It seems they lived mainly in mountain caves. The Phoenicians (Phoenician civilization was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean during the period 1550 BC to 300 BC) originally used the island to establish trading-posts.

After the Phoenicians came the Greeks took over and then in 123 BC the Romans colonized the Balearic Islands. The next 450 years were lived in peace under the Roman civilization. Palaces and official buildings were constructed and adorned with stunning facades. The peace was disturbed by the Vandals (an East Germanic tribe that entered the Roman Empire in the 5th century) who overpowered the Romans and destroyed the island. The next few centuries saw several invasions by the Byzantines, Normans and Berbers.

In 902 the Balearic Islands were taken over by the Moors and the Arab domination lasted for the next four centuries and their existence on the island is still evident today. The Arabs brought civilization to Mallorca bringing new irrigation systems in which the agriculture could flourish and the island prospered. In 1229 the islands were conquered by the King of Aragon and were resettled by people of Catalan origin. After the death of the King of Aragon his son James II inherited the Kingdom of Majorca and the island advanced economically. It was in this period that the construction of the magnificent Cathedral of Mallorca in Palma began. In the 18th century Majorca was occupied by the English, French and Spanish. The beginning of the 1950's marked the beginning of the tourist phenomenon which was to change Palma and the entire island of Majorca.