Hundreds of years ago, more than 50 watchtowers were built on the coast of Mallorca to protect the Island from enemy ships.
The towers were built with old stones and most of the ones that have survived date back to the 16th or 17th century.
They usually had two floors, an entrance several meters underground and could accommodate 4 people. The cabins inside were built in the form of vaults with a cistern to provide water.
Back when pirates ruled the ocean wave, it was crucial to be prepared for possible invasion or raids and the watchtowers gave Mallorcans valuable extra time to deploy soldiers to an area under siege.
If enemy ships were spotted during the day the watchtower sentries would light grass in a wooden lantern and smoke signal warnings were passed from one watchtower to another along the coast.
If hostile ships were approaching after dark the sentries would send coded flashes of fire to let the other watchtowers know how many ships were coming. Each tower then had to alert the local Mayor and relay the news to Palma.
The signal communication system was commissioned by Joan Binimelis, who also made maps of Mallorca, Minorca and Cabrera and provided a geographical description of the Island by order of Viceroy Luis of Vic.
Xisco Garcia collected information on Mallorca’s watchtowers for a degree project at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and there’s an interactive map of the towers on his website.
The spectacular views and history of the watchtowers has made them highly popular with hikers, tourists and locals not least because they’re one of the best places to be at sunrise or sunset in Mallorca.
The ones with the best views include, Torre des Verger in Banyalbufar; Torre d’Albercutx in Pollensa and Torre d’Albarca in Artà.
Torre des Verger in Banyalbufar, which is also known as Mirador de ses Ànimes’ or ‘Viewpoint of the Souls’ dates back to 1579 and is one of the oldest watchtowers on the Island. A protection order for the tower was recently extended to include the 13 hectares of land that surround it.
It was also the watchtower that received and transmitted warning signals to Pòpia on Dragonera, Trinidad in Valldemossa, Pedrissa in Deya and Pedrapicada in Puerto Soller. It was bought by Archduke Luis Salvador in 1875, who also later bought the surrounding land.
Torre d’Albercutx in Pollensa dates back to the late 16th or early 17th century and offers incredible views of Cap Formentor, the islet of Colomer, Pollensa Bay, the Sierra del Cavall Bernat and the Sierra de Tramuntana.
Torre d’Albarca, aka des Matzocs is in the Llevant Natural Park in the Municipality of Artà dates back to 1751. It offers fantastic views of Minorca and can be easily reached via a path from Cala Torta.
Despite efforts to preserve these historical watchtowers some have deteriorated.
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