Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Raixa, Mallorca


Raixa is a manor house that traces its beginnings back to the Islamic times when it most likely was a farmstead. The development of the house came when the first count of Montenegro, Ramon Despuig i Rocaberti, bought Raixa in 1660. It then became a family home. The house was expanded over the next century. The most important persons to the development of the house were the brothers Joan and Antoni Despuig i Dameto . Joan (1735-1813) was the fourth count of Montenegro and the seventh count of Montoro. His brother Antoni (1745-1813) followed an ecclesiastical career and was appointed Cardinal by Pope Pio VII in 1803. He was the one who had ambitions for Raixa and was a patron and collector of art and antiques during his stay in Italy. He also sponsored excavations near Rome. With the finds, which he transferred to Raixa, he established a museum in the house. He is also the man behind the carved, terraced garden that lingers along the hill on the back of the house. It was decorated with Neo classical statues, fountains, pavilions and a chapel along the hillside. There are two water pools, which provide water for the garden and the house. You can walk up the hill to enjoy the pools and the pavilion with a wonderful view towards the Bay of Palma. 

The modern toilett with
two water tanks on
either side
View from the balcony

Both brothers undertook extensive works in improving the house and gardens and turning it into a museum. Unfortunately, both brothers died in 1813 though and the task of organising the museum went to Joan’s children Ramón and Joan. In 1910 the estate was sold to the entrepreneur Antoni Jaume. The estate went into decline and was in the end sold to the Consell de Mallorca in the beginning of the last decade. They have renovated rather the restored the house into the museum it is today. Of the rooms the only reminders of the old days are old photographs. The rooms are plastered in white with not much more. There is a little bit of furniture in some rooms and you can get an idea of how the kitchen was. Unfortunately, the atmosphere of the times of the Despuig family is gone, but lives on in the garden. Most of the rooms contain an exhibition of the Sierra Tramuntana as a UNESCO World Heritage, which is quite interesting.

The house and gardens has been used for locations for films. ‘Evil under the Sun’ (Agatha Christie) and ‘Presence of mind’ (‘The Turn of the Screw by Henry James) has been shot here.  The most important place for the story was the stone steps which lingers up towards the hill behind the house.

The stairs are magnificent and if you see the films you will recognise them right away. In 'Evil Under the Sun' you will also recognise the pavilion and the other houses clustered along the hillside. 

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