In 1921 a steam train first chugged between Manacor – home of the island’s pearl industry – and Artà in the northeast. This part of Mallorca, known as the ‘Levante’ (‘Llevant’ in ‘mallorquín’) is often overlooked in favour of other parts of the island, but is home to rolling tree-clad hills, peaceful valleys, small towns and villages, interesting sightseeing, and a varied coastline.
When the rail link closed in 1977, the line fell into disrepair. Although there were plans in recent years to reopen it for a tram service, these were scuppered by the recession. Today, the 29km stretch has a new lease of life, as a ‘Via Verde’ – an eco-path. No motorised traffic is allowed, and the route is monitored by solar-powered security cameras.
Spain has a network of more than 100 ‘green ways’ – all reconditioned disused former railway lines. The first opened in 1993, and all these routes are accessible, flat, and suitable for use by people of all ages and physical abilities.
The Manacor to Artà ‘Via Verde’ is the only one in the Balearics and offers changing scenery along the way (including some distant sea views), with possible side excursions for visits and refreshments. It passes restored original railway station buildings in Sant Llorenç, Son Carrio, and Son Servera. Artà’s station has become an outlet for local artisan products.
Local runners, walkers, cyclists, and horseback riders are taking advantage of this relatively new route (opened officially in October 2014); it’s particularly popular on Sunday mornings. Six rest areas offer picnic-style tables and benches, bicycle racks, and waste bins (but no toilet facilities).
More than 15,000 shrubs and almost 5,000 new trees have been planted along the route (including pine, Holm oak, tamarind, and mulberry). Information boards help identify local flora and fauna, and places you may wish to visit in the locality.
Unless you’re super-fit and have lots of time to spare, you’ll probably do as we did, and divide the walk into chunks (we did six, easily finding car parking space close to each stage’s starting point). You don’t need hiking boots or special walking shoes; comfortable flat shoes (or trainers) are fine for the path’s good surface. The only minor gripe is the lack of signposts in the villages to help you locate the route. Apart from that, the ‘Via Verde’ is a welcome addition to Mallorca for those who enjoy seeing the island under their own steam.
Highly recommended . . .
1. The 7th-century Christian basilica of Son Peretó, halfway between Manacor and Sant Llorenc, just off the road parallel to the ‘Via Verde’.
2. Refreshments (and a pit-stop) at the friendly bar C’as Patró near Son Carrio church. With a side terrace and cycle racks, it’s about five minutes’ walk from the ‘Via Verde’.
3. Catalan architect Joan Rubió Bellver’s unfinished neogothic church (open to the sky) in the centre of Son Servera (follow signs for ‘Església Nova’). The prehistoric settlement of Ses Païsses (Artà).
The town of Son Servera is the gateway to some interesting places in the northeast and the coastal resorts of Cala Millor and Cala Bona. […] Son Servera
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