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PATH OF THE ARCHDUKE

PATH OF THE ARCHDUKE

This is the most well-known of the paths that Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria had built. It was drawn up by the Archduke in 1883, the year he purchased the estate of Son Moragues in Valldemossa. The route will take you to the snow house of Son Moragues. Unlike the other old routes in the Serra, this one was not built for economic reasons, rather the Archduke simply had it built in order to enjoy the impressive landscapes of the cliffs, with the Foradada rock taking centre stage.

The route is of intermediate difficulty, and 11.2 km long. It takes 5 hours and the route is not signposted.

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Pla des Pouet

The route begins in the town of Valldemossa. The path begins at the bottom of Calle de les Oliveres and to start, it runs up a gentle slope to a metal gate with a set of stairs made with branches, to be jumped over, “botador”. Continue on for about twenty metres until there is a sharp right hand bend in the path. If you take a two-step detour off to the left at this point, you will come to a mine fountain. This is the fountain of s’Abeurada whose purpose was to provide water to the coalmen that worked in these woods.

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Return to the path, which is now steeper, and it will take you an opening without a gate that leads into the pla des Pouet. Once you have gone through the opening, you will see remains that bear witness to the intense coal mining activity that took place in this area until midway through the 20th century. In the surrounding area, you can see “sitges”, the charcoal miner huts and “clapers”, piles of stones used in order to clear the land for growing.

You continue straight along this path; from the gate it leads to the mine shaft that gives its name to this plain.

 

Estret de Son Gallard

You leave behind the mine along the path that emerges on the right. Following a gentle climb and a number of bends, you will arrive at the strait of Son Gallard (770m).

A “coll de caça” is still preserved here. The hunting of thrushes with a net stretched between two branches in places that birds pass through, is a bird hunting technique that is typically found in Mallorca and Menorca.

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The Cave of s’Ermità Guillem

Continue along the path on the right where, in five minutes, a detour on the right, will take you to the cave of s’Ermità Guillem. The hermit Guillem spent many years living in this cave and died in 1635. Subsequently, the hermits of the Trinitat kept his skull in the hermitage of La Trinitat in Valldemossa. The anchorites were people who voluntarily went off to live in solitary places like this one in order to lead a life of silence and prayer.

In Die Balearen written by Archduke Ludwig Salvator this cave appears under the name of the cave of s’Ermità de Son Moragues.

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From Puig des Caragolí to the Pla de ses Aritges

You get back on the path which climbs gently, taking you up to the most spectacular stretch of the Archduke´s path. The impressive views are presided over by the Foradada which will accompany you along the rest of the journey to the Puig des Caragolí. Here, the route continues towards the right.

The peak of the Puig des Caragolí offers spectacular views of the Serra and the northern coast of Mallorca.

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Having passed the Puig des Caragolí, the path descends gradually until you reach the pla de ses Aritges. If you look around, you will see some rounded bushes, shaped like cushions. These are the “coixinets de monja”, Mallorcan sarsaparilla (Smilax aspera subsp. Baleárica), which give this plain its name, and the “eixorba-rates blanc”, cat thyme, (Teucrium marum), which are endemic plants of the Balearic Islands. The two are very similar. Their shape has adapted precisely to the conditions they exist in.

Further along, the path comes to a pine grove that crosses the path of ses Fontanelles that will once again lead you to the pla des Pouet. Continue straight on along the path of the Archduke.

 

The Snow House of Son Moragues

When the pat begins to descend, you definitively leave behind the pla de ses Aritges and enter the wood of the Cairats. You will soon come to the snow house of Son Moragues.

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The snow house of Son Moragues is well preserved. You can still see the doorway and the four shutters. On the back embankment, there are the remains of four walls (“marjades”) that were used to encourage the build-up of snow and collection work.

You continue the route crossing the coma a des Cairats and in five minutes you will reach the refuge of Son Moragues. From here, the path descends sharply and takes you to Valldemossa.