I step off of the wooden train car into a state of isolation in Sóller. For centuries Sóller kept to herself, cut off from the island. The sea functioned as Sóller’s only means of communicating with the outside world. The peaks of the Tramuntana mountain range wanted to keep Sóller forever in that isolation, but the historic train route from Palma altered that agenda in 1912. The train station welcomes in a variety of languages, suggesting Sóller is not so alone these day. The building itself used to be an ancient fortified house from the 17th century. It would later take on the identity of a hotel before becoming a train station by the late 20th century.
My first stop is the Sant Bartomeu Parish Church. Built in several stages throughout time, the current church is a mix of baroque and Art Nouveau styles. The façade suggests a Gaudi influence. Joan Rubió I Bellver, a student of Gaudí, designed it in 1904. Sóller’s patron saint has watched over the church and town through good times and bad. The town’s main source of revenue grew out of the agriculture of olive and fruit trees, specifically citrus trees. The booming economy of the 19th century was quickly humbled in 1865 when a plague attacked the orange trees in the valley. Many would leave Sóller as a result, but the Sant Bartomeu Church has always remained.
Sóller prefers an Art Nouveau style to its architecture. I stumble upon several structures and homes as evidence of that fact, but the most impressive is easily Can Prunera. The Home was built between 1909 and 1911 in the Modern Style of Mallorca. From the inside and out, Can Prunera harks on Art Nouveau elements with wrought iron detailing and original furniture.
Today, Can Prunera serves as a museum to the Modern Style with restored rooms. The colorful tiles catch my attention in each room. You realize you don’t need carpets in Sóller. You merely need intricate and eye catching tiles on the floors of each room in the home, telling a story of design and pattern. A small permanent exhibition of the great masters of the 19th and 20th centuries such as Picasso, Klee and Miró can be found scattered about the home.
I wander a little deeper into Sóller and catch the moon taking a siesta. The Casa de la Lluna house is one of the city’s testaments to time. Hailing from the 15th century, it is a small sample of popular Mallorcan architecture. The façade features the half relief of the face of the waxing moon. The face of the moon might be suggesting a siesta is imminent.
Mallorcan boats bob in the port, creating a hypnotic trance. And while the tourists have found Sóller, the town remains in a strange state of isolation. Like dropping into a place for a short time and leaving it, Sóller disappears from my radar just as quickly as she entered it. My only chance of staying in touch comes by way of the sea and perhaps through a refreshing glass of orange juice, the fruit of Sóller’s lands.
Have you been to Sóller?