Anything But Paella

Miró in Mallorca

Mallorca wasn’t a place I expected to find something worthy of a Paella blog. Sunshine, sand and sangria are not what I write about, so I was pleasantly surprised on a recent work trip to the island to find an absolute gem. The number 4 bus from the city centre takes you to the Cala Major area where the Miró Foundation can be found along with a garden containing a few of his sculptures and a hotel full of the artist’s work. It’s not for nothing that this bus route is called the Ruta Miró.

Joan Miró i Ferrà was born in Barcelona in 1893. A museum in his honour can be found in the city which perhaps explains why I was so surprised to learn all about his time on the island of Mallorca. At 24 years of age he had his first solo exhibition in the city of his birth before heading to Paris. He lived there for many years, but wartime France took its toll and he spent more and more time back in Spain. Having married Pilar Juncosa in Palme de Mallorca in 1929, the couple decided to settle on the island in 1956. He lived there for the rest of his life which ended in 1983 with heart failure, but two years before his passing, he and Pilar gifted his workshops to the city of Palma.

Those workshops, and the traditional house in which they lived, became the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca. For a €9 entry fee you get access to the whole estate and it is well worth the money. There are a lot of his works on display and I particularly like his use of bright colours and abstract concepts. Many of the sculptures, especially those in the grounds, will have you scratching your head trying to decipher what they really represent! Miró had requested that things were left as they were when he died and this is really evident in the workshops where his bizarre sketches remain on the walls and splashes of paint can still be seen on the floor where a table holds his paints and brushes. Artists can sign up for workshops to hone their skills in the very rooms where masterpieces were once created.

Back on the main road (which you just knew would be called Avinguda de Joan Miró) are the Jardines de Marivent. These beautiful gardens are free to explore and, whilst not massive, are a nice place to sit, relax, and contemplate what you have seen. Several of Miró’s sculptures are on display, and once again it’s hard at first glance to work out what they truly are! The gardens are part of the grounds of the Marivent Palace, the summer home of the Spanish Royal Family. The palace itself cannot be visited, and when the Royals are in residence, neither can the gardens!

What makes this discovery extra special is that we were not even supposed to be staying in the area. Two days before we were due to stay in the city of Palma, we were told that our hotel had not reopened due to Covid-19 and we would be staying instead at the Hotel Juan Miró Museum. At first this did not seem an ideal arrangement but it all worked out for the best and we got to explore an area we really hadn’t intended to. The hotel was lovely with a beautiful pool, and, of course, works by Miró on every available space on the wall! Even better, ask at reception and you’ll get free tickets for the museum. Just a word of warning though – if you stay there and have a car, the narrow street up to the hotel entrance is not one way. Cars must negotiate going both up and down the hill causing some confusion and irritation along the way. Other than that, it’s a great place for a a few nights.

So there you go. Getting off the beaten track in Mallorca is most definitely possible. We’ll be back for more before you know it! And the sun, sand and sangria are not bad either!!

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