By Shirley Roberts
Sunday 23rd August 2020
Raixa is located 15 minutes from Soller. Signposted to the right when the main road turns into serious pot holes and bumpy track. Coaches of the ‘great and good’ use this route to get to Raixa for important Consell conferences. Difficult to understand why they haven’t sorted the road out. That aside, the drive is through fields of ancient olive trees which are beautifully maintained by the Raixa estate.
The origin of Raixa is in an Islamic farmhouse of which only the place name remains. After the conquest of Mallorca, in 1229 by King Jaime I of Aragon, the estate passed to the Count of Ampurias. During the Middle Ages it was owned by the Sureda de Sant Martí and Safortesa-Tagamanent families.
The house and grounds have tales to tell as they passed hands and inheritances. Often used as a film set and well remembered as the 1982 set for Evil Under the Sun. Peter Ustinov played Poirot and, to this day, people still come to see the set. Indeed, one of my visits here, was with my American niece who loved this ‘vintage’ film.
This week I went to Raixa in the company of youngest granddaughter to see the recent changes. When the building and estate were first taken over by the Consell the openings were fragmented and the experience limited. Today, in 2020, it is an altogether different place. As you walk up from the smart car park to the house you are surrounded by Tramuntana beauty as the building snuggles into the mountains. From then on a bit of modernity and hi- tec augment the experience.
The gardens and fountains are stunning and before we went in we sat at the lily pond watching the frogs sunbathing. This was an oasis morning as we had the place almost to ourselves. Raixa is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm and the entrance is free.
The house itself is an empty shell with most rooms used for audio visual productions. The installation of a lift allows access now to the first floor which is where the new rooms have come into use. A little attempt has been made to show what these rooms were previously used for but this not Sa Granja in Esporles. This building has the oldest and newest toilets in Mallorca. The installation of the newest for the visitors is a far cry from the thunder box on the ground floor.
As you exit the house at this level you are at the foot of the ‘Stairs of Apollo’ with the water courses splashing down at each level. It is from there the climb begins on a different stone staircase which takes you to the chapel. This is a building halfway up a mountain. When you get there the reward is you can see for miles and miles – way out to sea.
Raixa only has one thing missing for me and that is a place to have a lemonade and a sit amongst all the beauty. A visit to the Gardens of Alfabia always ends by the lake with a drink and sit. It was quite obvious that a café would not have been viable on the day we visited but maybe it is a thought for the future.
Raixa is open for visitors and in term times it is also used by groups of visiting school children and students. The hi-tec installations throughout, make it suitable for university lectures and so much more. The vision for this building is coming to life and is forward thinking.
The exit is through the gardens and the attempt at a maze. Evellia and I enjoyed our visit and discussed all the changes we have witnessed here since the building was taken over by the Consell of Majorca. The circular walk which hikers enjoy starts by leaving the car at Can Penasso and walking the trails to Raixa and then completing the circular walk back to the car.
Our route home went via Palmanyola – just down the road. An iced coffee was easily found there, in the nearest Majorca has to an all American designed town. Wide streets and a grid system wait you here plus all the streets are named after flowers. A great coffee stop after a lovely ‘Nans Day Out’ trip.