A not very well-known place for tourists (and also for Mallorcans) is the Possessió de Raixa, which is located in the municipality of Bunyola, only about 20 minutes from Palma, at km 12 of the road from Palma to Sóller. Due to being at the foothills of the magnificent Serra de Tramuntana, so you can easily guess it has splendid views.
A possessió is the Catalan (or Mallorcan, perhaps) word for rural country mansion with gardens, plotted land and animals, as well as servants as these mansions are typical from the era of the Crown of Aragon and its bourgeoisie. Its name, though, comes from the Arab era as it is thought that araixa is a valley with a farmstead. When in 1229 Jaume I conquered Mallorca, he divided the island and gave its parts to those who helped him in his quest. Raixa was given to the Count of Empúries, Ponç IV. However, the family name that links better to Raixa due to the number of improvements done and the number of years under their possession is Despuig, from 1660 to 1906, and especially Antoni Despuig i Dameto or the Cardinal Despuig.
The Despuig family really made Raixa a special place. At the end of the XVIII century, the family set up a museum using sculptures found in a plot of land they bought in Ariccia, near Rome. When the Cardinal Despuig came back to Mallorca from Italy, he decided to transform the country mansion in an Italian villa and ordered Lazzarini the design of the gardens that would surround the house. The result is a must-see and shows one of the most romantic gardens in the island of Mallorca, including the spectacular stairway at the back of the house which leads to the largest pond in the whole island. There are other details not to be missed, such as the interior patio, the chapel or the mirador. In the picture you can see the exterior of the house, but in future posts we will have a look at other parts of Raixa.
Its beauty has attracted wealthy individuals, cultural personalities and cinema directors. You would be surprised to know that Evil under the sun inspired in the novel by Agatha Christie was filmed in Raixa, as well as Bearn by the Mallorcan writer Llorenç Villalonga. Nowadays, you can visit the country mansion as it belongs to the Mallorcan insular government or Consell de Mallorca, and it’s free to get in and have a guided tour around, so you have no excuse not to visit it!