The churches of the Soller Valley

The Cathedral of the Mountains in Soller
Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
Tuesday 23rd February 2016
Photograph by Rachel Fox
The church in the centre of Soller square dominates our City. It is the perfect meeting place and everyone knows where it is – you just can’t miss it. The groups pour into Soller for their visits and Sant Bartholomew Church is always the place that they reconvene at their allotted time. Soller is a small place to have such a large church and the history of why it happened is contained in the archives of the city at the museum and the library. These days the size of the church sits well with Soller’s title as the Cultural Capitol of the Tramuntana as defined by UNESCO.
A church has stood on this site for generations but it became a Gaudi shrine in 1904 when Catalan architect Joan Rubio I Bellver redesigned the main façade to what we see today. Juan Rubio was a colleague and follower of Antonio Gaudio and worked in the same style. Rubio has many followers who just love his work and they do the Soller tour of the Church, Soller Bank, Can Prunera and the Avenida Hotel who all had work on them by done by Juan Rubio.
Our Cathedral is the starting point to many of the significant occasions in our City. The call to arms and the victory speech is held inside every May for the Battle of the Moors and the Christians. Parades and music find their way there all the time often with all the participants in traditional costume re enacting significant dates of the past. Sometimes you have to suspend 2018 and go with the flow into the world dominated by St Bartholomew Church.
World class concerts are performed there and play to thousands. The church occupies a huge space and often will be packed and standing room only when a fine orchestra or choir come to visit. Of course its main function is to look after the spiritual needs of our community and the regular services, observances and concentration on Easter and the Lent season is the priority at the moment. The Cathedral of the Mountains is a much loved building and every year new generations of visitors discover it. Some of them even return to marry there and so the memories become enshrined for another generation.
From the largest to the smallest churches of our place in the universe. A visit to the Capello de Castello will be high on the list for many people this year. This was a largely derelict small church just off the Deia road on the walking route 221. In 2015 work was undertaken that proved controversial because the walking route 221 had to be suspended around the building work. Negotiations were tried with local landowners to allow walkers through their land for a temporary period till the works were finished. They were not happy and that didn’t happen. That is all in the past because the walking route is now open and the newly renovated Capella de Castello is a beautiful reminder of the chapels that are a feature of the mountains. In the highly religious community of the past it was difficult for people to get to church. A tradition of a few big houses getting together to create their own chapel grew and some remain and are a feature of of Tramuntana mountains.
On the road from Soller to Fornalutx a right turn takes you to the gothic church of Sa Capelleta. This hidden gem is signposted Santa Maria de S’Olivar and you can drive down into a car park from the main road. The church is a fascinating example of bare knuckled building by local people who wanted their own local place of worship. The stalactites and stalagmites in the interior give it an eerie feel and the whole place is a delight. It was the favoured place of weddings by many Sollerics and these days there is an ecclesiastical training centre nearby (which is why there is such a good car park). This church is also on one of the walking routes of the mountains and a delight to those who find it.
Our churches in the Soller Valley are used for religious purposes, weddings, funerals and as gathering places. For the visitor to the Soller Valley they give a glimpse into the past in this place before transport made church gathering a bit easier. The locations in the mountains for Sa Capelleta and Capello de Castello make them focal points for a mountain walk for visitors and locals alike.
A day trip to the Soller Valley is contained in these three churches. Come and see these glorious places soon before it gets too hot to be bothered to leave the beach. January, February and March are such great sightseeing months in the Soller Valley and there is so much to see. You know you are always welcome here…

Leave a Reply