People have been living in the Llucmajor area since pre-historic times, starting in caves and progressing to settlements such as those at Son Noguera to the west and Es Pedregar to the southwest. While there are scattered traces from Phoenician, Carthaginian and Roman eras, it was the Moors who built farms in the area. However, Llucmajor began life as a village following the conquest in 1229 when the area was given to the knight Ramon de Sant Martí. He built a large manor and a chapel and people built houses nearby,
In 1300 King Jamie II granted Llucmajor permission to hold a market and plots of land were offered to settlers from the mainland. However, less than half a century later his son Jaime III was killed on the fields west of the town during the famous battle of Llucmajor. Check out the Battle of Llucmajor webpage in the Events section to find out more about James the 'Unfortunate' and the end of the Kingdom of Mallorca.
For the next 500 years people tried to scrape a living from the land but poor harvests, high taxes and plagues conspired against them. By the end of the 19th Century the peasants faced falling prices and rising taxes they turned to a new cottage industry to make a living; making shoes either at home or in small workshops. After a healthy start, the shoe industry struggled when Spain lost its overseas trade in the Philippines, Guam and Cuba following a brief war with the United States of America in 1898.
Yet again the people of Llucmajor faced a difficult future until the military authorities stepped in and employed hundreds building a new fortress at Cap Enderrocat to the southwest. Check out the Southwest coast webpage and the Gun Batteries webpage in the Organisations section to find out more about the defence of Mallorca against naval attack.
By the time the gun battery was complete, new markets on mainland Spain were ready to be exploited opened and the people of Llucmajor could return to shoe making. The granting of the title of 'Ciudad', or town, by King Alphonse XIII and the opening of the railway in 1916 also helped. Unfortunately, the town's success attracted business men looking to exploit a cheap workforce outside Palma. While sales went up, the quality went down and many people were fired when new machinery arrived. The market was revived when the Spanish Civil War started in 1936 and the townspeople made shoes for General Franco's Nationalist Army. The shoe industry employed most of Llucmajor's labour market until the 1970s.
There are a number of fine buildings around Plaza Espanyol, including Café Colóm, Café Tabú and the Town Hall, with its bell tower. The covered fish market was opened in 1916 and it has recently been restored and turned into council offices. The church dominates the centre of the town and it was dedicated to San Miguel in 1386. Work started on what we see today in 1784 under the guidance of Father Evinent but the size and height of the building meant that it took well into the 1800s to complete. The finished structure stands high above the surrounding buildings and it can be seen from miles around. The entrance to the church museum is through the Rectory on the north side of the church.
Follow Calle de la Fira to the right of the Town Hall and head east for 200 metres, turning into Calle del Convent. The Church and Convent of Bonaventura are in a square after 200 metres. In 1576 the Franciscans established themselves the Monastery of Jesus in Calle Monestir but they moved to this location in 1609. The church was completed in 1656 and work then started on the adjacent monastery. Father Boscana left the monastery to go to California and he help set up the San Juan de Capistrano Mission at the beginning of the 19th Century. The statue of a girl carrying a sheaf of wheat in the square is called s'Espigolera and it commemorates the local poet Maria Antònia Salva.
Returning to Plaza Espanyol, follow Calle San Miguel which heads northwest out of the square and after 75 metres turn left into Calle Sant Joan to find the Church and Convent of Our Lady of Grace. It is occupied by Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul and they have been based in the town since 1859.
Return to Plaza Espanyol and walk along Calle Bisbe Taixequet, noting the La Caixa Bank on the right; the 1908 building was the headquarters of the Agriculture Promotion Agency. A little further along on the same side is Ca ses Xilenes, or, Home of the Chileans, built by a family who returned from making their fortune in Chile in 1925. You will find the memorial to Llucmajor's shoemakers in Plaza del Sabater, or Shoemakers' Square. The s'Abeurador Rodona, or Round Water Trough and the Art Nouveau style Hotel Espanya, where many shoe industry representatives stayed while visiting the town's factories, are also in the square.
Continue southwest along Calle Bisbe Taixequet to discover the memorial to Jaime III and the Battle of Llucmajor . Return to Plaza Espanyol to complete your visit of Llucmajor.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace
Randa Hill is north of Llucmajor (check out the Randa Webpage in the Pla section) and half way up the hillside, under an overhang called Falcon Rock, is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace. Drive north towards Algaida and turn to the right after 2 miles, signposted for Randa. Drive through Randa village and you will find the entrance to the sanctuary on the right half way up the hill. The chapel was opened at the end of the 15th Century when Llucmajor was being ravaged by the plague but what we see today was rebuilt at the start of the 18th Century. There are fantastic views of the southern part of Mallorca from the promenade in front of the chapel. On the Sunday after Passover, known locally as Angel Sunday, the people of Llucmajor make their annual pilgrimage to the hillside sanctuary.
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