The most abundant and impressive heritage element in the Serra de Tramuntana is the Majorcan “possessió” which is the name given to large rural properties typical of the island and its history. The historical, social, economic and cultural relevance of this architectural monument is key to understand the history of Majorca, as this was a microscale representation of our past society. Through the emblematic and beautiful possessió of Port de Sóller, which was adapted to its new use as a hotel, we will explain what this iconic building
was and meant.
The origin of Majorcan possessions can be traced back to the thirteenth century when Jaime I conquered our island and divided it amongst the nobility and the Church. This way he introduced the feudal system, in which the possessió started to play a really important role as the residential and economic land core that controlled and operated everything. Many of these possessions had older origins, like the Muslim “alquerías” which were restructured to the needs of their new colonists.
The centre for operations and for living on the possessions was made up by the “cases” (houses). The name is in the plural because these were composed of various buildings grouped together, but which functioned independently. These ‘cases’ were arranged around a courtyard, known as ‘clastra’. Each building had its own role, and among them two buildings stand out: the casa dels senyors (landowners´ house) and the casa dels amos (tenant farmers´ house). Apart from those, there were several production buildings, such as the ‘tafona’ or mill (‘alzamara’), the flour mill, cisterns, stables, cowsheds, a chapel etc.
In the case of the possessió of Hotel Es Port, we can still see the tafona, the stables, the clastra, the chapel the casa dels amos or the cistern in very good condition. Moreover, it was really common among the possessions located on the coast, to have a tower to defend against pirate at
tacks. The Hotel Es Port presents a beautiful example that retains its original structure. We must emphasize that this Hotel has preserved the above items. The main floor, known as the casa dels senyors as well as the tafona must be noted.
The social system of exploitation of possessions was pyramidal or hierarchical. The Lord was usually a noble who leased the operation and management of the estate to the ‘amo’ (or tenant farmer) and his family. The latter hired the ‘missatgers’ stable labourers who worked on the farm. This simple contractual relationship represented, in general terms, the structure of the Majorcan society.
The symbiosis between tourism and the preservation of a rural estate of such characteristics makes the Es Port Hotel a model.