Hamilton College Academic Year in Spain (HCAYS) students visited the island of Mallorca on Feb. 19-21. The island has become known in recent years as a prominent tourist destination, though human history on the island goes back as far as the Paleolithic period (6000 to 4000 B.C.).
Romans arrived on the island in the second century BCE, and it was later incorporated into the Byzantine Empire, when it was Christianized. Students visited the Cathedral of Santa María de Palma de Mallorca, which dates back to this period, and noted its diverse styles, ranging from Gothic to the most recent modernist style of its canopy, designed and built by artist Antonio Gaudí.
The Moors invaded the island in the 8th century, and then fell to Christian rulers in the 13th century when James I of Aragon incorporated the island into the Kingdom of Aragon. Hamilton students visited the Castle of Bellver, constructed by the son of James I, James II in the 13th century.
The students also visited the Cartuja de Valldemosa, a royal palace that was converted into a monastery and, in the 19th century, into a hotel where Frederic Chopin and George Sand stayed in 1838, and where Sand wrote A Winter in Mallorca.
The HCAYS trip to Mallorca was not limited to historical monuments and churches. The students had the opportunity to ride in an old, 19th century train through the Mountains of Tramuntana to the Port of Soller. The groupo visited the natural preserve of Torrent de Pareis on the far northern coast, and the Artá caves on the eastern edge of Mallorca. The caves are filled with spectacular stalagmites and stalactites, and are said to have inspired Julio Verne´s Journey to the Center of the World.