Experience the distinctive feel of Majorca's second-biggest city
Manacor is the industrial heart of Majorca. The town is famous for its beautiful pearls and ornate pieces of furniture. Today, I’m going to show you why you should head to this interesting destination on your next holiday!
With 30,000 inhabitants, Manacor is the second-biggest city on Majorca after Palma. Situated to the east of the island away from the coast, it has a reputation for being a little grubby and unappealing to tourists. Manacor is Majorca’s home of industry. It is the centre of the pearl and furniture industries in the Balearic Islands. But, the town also has another side to it. The Old Town is full of winding lanes, small boutiques and pretty houses, the culture is rich and diverse, you’ll find dreamy hotels in perfect locations. There has also been a concerted effort from the residents to spruce up their town for visitors. These are all reasons why you should do more than just take a look at Manacor on your next holiday to Majorca.
Manacor – pearls, siestas and a Majorcan way of life
The name Manacor comes from the Catalan, “man a cor”, which means “hand on heart” in English. It’s a really romantic name for the town and the surrounding district. Although Manacor is generally known for its industry, vast forests and countless nature reserves characterise the area. Manacor’s infamous reputation of industrial charm is now wearing off. It is an appealing city with many attractions and a very famous son – Rafael Nadal.
Fun Fact: In Manacor, there is a willow tree, which is said to have healing powers.
Money isn’t normally thrown at Manacor so the residents have taken things into their own hands. They have been cleaning up their town themselves for a few years now. In past centuries, money flooded into Manacor because it was an industrial centre. You can see this reflected in the old manor houses and the picturesque remains of its fortifications. Today, only a tower remains of the walls. Lots of small boutiques have settled in the middle of the town and promise a successful shopping experience. Plaça Sa Bassa and Plaça Constitució are particularly beautiful and have a Mediterranean flair, which is in no way inferior to Majorca’s tourist resorts. Tourists are now beginning to recognise this potential but the town is much less crowded than many others in Majorca.
This is why Manacor can boast a typically Majorcan way of life. Siestas are taken seriously here and lots of sights shut their doors at midday. They are then open longer in the evenings. In terms of sightseeing, you generally don’t have to pay entry fees in Manacor. This is just another why you should look to the east and see this lovely place for yourself.
The nearest airport is the Palma de Majorca Aiport. As the third-biggest airport in Spain, it is well-connected. Dublin, Cork and Shannon fly direct. You can find bargain prices for flights to Majorca on Skyscanner. Manacor is 50 kilometres away from the airport. It takes about 40 minutes by rental car. On the way, you can admire the vast forest as well as the countless almond plantations. The trees thrive particularly well in the middle of the country. The journey to Manacor is a real highlight when the almond trees are blooming in the spring! If you don’t want to hire a car, you can also reach the town using the public transport. You can either take the T3 train or the L412 bus.
The most famous hotel near Manacor is La Reserva Rotana. The five-star hotel was built in a traditional Majorcan style. It is simply dreamy. It has everything you could possibly want, from a private, 9-hole golf course to a wellness area with an indoor and outdoor pool as well as a whirlpool. They even have their own casino. In Rafal Nou, you can look forward to modern apartments in an old sheep barn. The combination of the very latest technology – iPads in the room – and rural charm – bleating sheep – creates a fascinating atmosphere and makes country bumpkins as well as lovers of good design happy.
The two-star Hotel Ca’n Guixa is right in the middle of the Old Town. The small guesthouse is great for road trippers. It is good value for money and offers clean rooms with their own bathroom and has lovely staff.
Yes, there’s a red carpet and a huge windmill. But, no, the Parisians haven’t moved the famous Moulin Rouge and set up shop in Majorca. Instead, you’ll find Molí den Sopa, which serves both traditional and international dishes daily from 12 til 11 pm. From outside, the CAN Vinyes looks unremarkable. The small restaurant seems to be somewhere between a canteen and a Lebanese restaurant. The menu serves mainly vegetarian dishes so the vegetarians among you will be happy. I recommend Entrevius Menjar i Beure for tapas. It’s located in the shadows of the towers of the Church of Nostra Senyora dels Dolors. On the lunch menu, you can choose one of three starters and three mains for just 9€. The snug spot in the courtyard is obviously included as well.
Weekly markets are a typical feature of Manacor. A market takes place every morning in the Plaça Constitució. Here, you can purchase fresh fruit and veg as well as some hand-made trinkets from the surrounding area. It’s no wonder then that the square is known to the locals only as “vegetable market”. In addition, there’s a weekly market every Monday in the Plaça Ramon Llull. As well as food, you can also buy all sorts of things made from olive wood.
Manacor became famous through the manufacturing of pearls. The most well-known as well as the biggest manufacturer is Majorica. Majorica pearls are deceptive imitations of real pearls. They look as though they were found in an oyster! The company was founded in 1890 by the German, Eduard Heusch. He was also the inventor of the method of production still in use today.
The production process is supposedly simple but the devil’s in the detail. First solid glass balls are created. The nuclei are then dipped in a special pearly liquid, which shines like a real pearl. It’s not mother-of-pearl though. The paste is actually made of mashed up fish scales and shells. The exact ‘recipe’ is top secret! Nevertheless, you can watch the production of the pearls at the Majorica factory in Manacor. Don’t worry! The pearls don’t smell of fish after they have hardened. They are resistant to sweat, cosmetics, and heat. However, the investment is for life as they are not cheap at all!
Torre dels Enagistes
The country house and its surrounding defences date back to the 14th century. Today, it is home to the History Museum of Manacor. Four permanent exhibitions cover different periods and are supplemented by special, temporary exhibitions, which are changed regularly. The courtyard of the museum is circular and completely surrounded by a wall. There is only one small entrance where visitors can get in and out. Exhibits in the museum include finds from the archaeological sites of the ancient basilicas of Son Peretó and Sa Carrotja. You can also visit the ruins of the Basilica de Son Peretó near Manacor. There is no entrance fee here or in the History Museum.
Nostra Senyora dels Dolors
The Church of Nostra Senyora dels Dolors is right in the centre of Manacor. The Neo-Gothic building dates from the 19th century. The church was probably built on the ruins of an abandoned mosque so there have been different places of worship on the same site for centuries. The clock tower of the Church of Nostra Senyora dels Dolors is Majorca’s tallest building. At 89 metres tall, it towers over the Torre Rubí as well as Palma’s cathedral. The altar paintings are really worth seeing. The church is a welcome oasis of calm in the midst of Manacor’s lively hustle and bustle.
Cloisters of Sant Vicenç Ferrer
Also situated in the middle of Manacor, the monastery is made up of a cloistered courtyard and a church dating from 1617. It has an unusual history behind it. Since the monks left the cloisters, they have been home to all sorts of things from a telegraph office to a prison. Today, the rooms are used by the local government. The beautiful courtyard, as well as the church, are free for visitors. Its interior is simple and reflects the style typical of Majorca. You can find the same style in cloister chapels across the island. There is one exception though. The Rosary Chapel on the right side of the nave is a fine example of the opulence of the Baroque style. It is decorated with lots of gold ornaments.
Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy
This major project of tennis star, Rafael Nadal, makes Manacor particularly interesting for sports fans. The 40,000 m² complex is home to an active hotel, which is fully adapted to the needs of vacationing athletes. There is also a huge fitness studio and a diverse sports programme. You have to adhere to special diet plans too. If you can’t get fit here, there’s no hope. ;)
For those of you who prefer to watch sport rather than play it, there’s the Sport Xperience. The interactive museum is split into three main parts. You can admire Nadal’s trophies and tennis rackets among other things. There is also an Experience Room, which is entirely tailored to your own experience. Do you want to drive a Formula One car or rush down the steepest mountains on a mountain bike? That’s not a problem in the simulators – and there’s less risk of injury! In the last part, in the projection hall, you can watch the key moments in the careers of different sports stars up close. Pure sports fascination is guaranteed!
The Sport Cafe has a view over Rafa Nadal’s own centre court, which is part of his Tennis Academy and not open to visitors. If you’re lucky, you can see the superstar himself hit a few balls around the court as you’re drinking your coffee.
The countryside around Manacor is so beautiful
So, what’s missing? If you can’t think of anything, I’ll tell you: Manacor doesn’t have its own beach. To make your holiday in Majorca absolutely perfect, I recommend two beaches nearby. The Playa Romàntica and the Cala Mendia both invite you to sunbathe on them. Porto Cristo and the famous Coves del Drach are nearby too. I would also like to draw your attention to the Via Verde eco-trail. This takes you along an old railway line through Majorca’s fascinating nature to Artà.
It’s safe to say that Manacor’s old reputation has been well and truly buried. I can only recommend you choose Manacor as your next holiday destination, especially if you’re thinking about going to Majorca anyway. I can say, hand on heart, that it’s really really beautiful.
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