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Although a popular destination which features as part of many of the larger tour operators "Scenic West" type island tours, it is quite surprising that very few visitors to Mallorca would however even consider Deia, and the surrounding area, as a holiday destination.
Although at this point it has to be said that Deia is particularly unsuitable for those with mobility problems. The streets here are very narrow and very steep, and certainly no concessions or consideration is given to those visitors with limited mobility.
As a result, most of the visitors here do therefore tend to be middle aged couples who are attracted by the cultural heritage of the village, and chose Deia as a convenient base from which to escape into the Sierra de Tramuntana mountains along the network of footpaths and tracks that cover this part of the island.
It is easy to fall in love with Deia; even the journey there is beautiful, along the serpentine stretches of the winding Ma-10 road, and what greets visitors is a taste of old Mallorca.
The skyline above the village is dominated by the imposing the mountain Teix, which is pronounced locally as "tesh", and at 1,062 metres above sea level is the second highest mountain on Mallorca. For those interested in statistics, the highest mountain on the island is the impressive "Puig Mayor", overlooking the nearby village of Soller, at 1,445 metres above sea level.
As with the other destinations on this site, a detailed version of the route from Palma, complete with links to maps where appropriate, is available from the Route Map link on the left hand frame of this page.
Many of the travel guides written about Deia will often describe the village as being "small and exclusive", but perhaps many don’t actually realise just how small it really is. Figures published by the Consell de Mallorca, taken as part of the most recent island census, shows a resident population of the 15km2 that make up the municipality, of just 840 people, and little has really changed over the past years to increase this figure. In fact if we are honest, little has really changed in the village for the past 150 years!
The village has a long history, and a settlement on this site can be traced back to pre-historic times, although a recognisable village only began to properly take shape under the Moorish rule of the island between the 10th and 12th Century. Deia has a special place in Majorcan history as in 1582, the nearby coastal area of Sa Foradada was the site of a bloody battle when 50 brave and determined islanders defeated an invasion force of 150 North African Moors.
This famous victory has now become part of local legend, and is remembered on the 13th of May each year with a re-enactment of the great battle between the Moors and Christians. As a consequence of the battle, and other maritime attacks, a series of fortified watchtowers were built along Majorca’s west coast, the remains of which are still visible today.
The first tourists to the area began to arrive in the late 19th Century, even in those days attracted by the prospect of peace, solitude and outstanding scenery that the region offered. One of the first of these visitors was the Archduke Luís Salvador of Austria, who was responsible for the construction of many of the impressive manor houses in the area.
Over the last hundred years or so, the little village has a built a reputation for is its literary and musical connections and inhabitants, both past and present. Its idyllic landscapes of orange and olive groves perched on steep cliffs served as a refuge for German, English and American artistes after the First World War and over the past century, the village has welcomed a number of celebrity guests.
Eminent amongst these is the English poet and novelist Robert Graves, who first bought property there in 1932 with his mistress Laura Riding. He subsequently returned in 1946 with his second wife Beryl Hodge and used the town as the setting for many of his stories, including the historical novel "Hercules my Shipmate". He is buried in the parish churchyard, where his headstone simply reads: Robert Graves, Poeta, 1895 - 1985.
The famous erotic writer Anais Nin also visited the village in the 1920's, and wrote a short story set on the village's beach, whilst the Costa Rican novelist Carmen Naranjo has also visited and written about the village.
In recent decades, the stars of rock and roll have eclipsed the stars of literature. Virgin owner Richard Branson has a luxury residence in the town and his record label's stars have often visited the village, sometimes playing at one of the local bars, "Sa Fonda". Mick Jagger, Mark Knopfler and European music icon Mike Oldfield could all be found there at various times during the late 1980's. Branson has also contributed by refurbishing the stately houses of Son Moragues and Son Canal to create the best known hotel in the area, the very exclusive La Residencia.
Perhaps the most famous current residents of the municipality are the actor Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta Jones, who are often known to visit their fabulous villa in the village during the summer months.
It is perhaps not surprising that Deia, despite being one of the smallest and most remote municipalities on the island, is widely regarded as being the cultural centre of Majorca. Instead of the nightclubs and karaoke bars so popular in the southern resorts, it is the museums, art galleries and literary and musical heritage that attract visitors to Deia.
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