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Visiting the Carthusian Monastery in Valldemossa, Spain: Refuge of Chopin and George Sand

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Valldemossa village in Mallorca, Spain

Valldemossa village in Mallorca, Spain

Valldemossa, Spain

One day while on the Island of Mallorca, my husband and I decided to take another tour. We had already taken a City Tour of Palma but wanted to see more. One of the first stops was in Valldemossa's very scenic town, which is only 17 kilometers from the City of Palma, where we were staying.

Riding there on the tour bus, we saw forested areas amidst the rolling landscape of rocky shorelines and interior plains and many olive and almond tree groves. The growth of those crops is a significant industry on the island in addition to tourism.

Hundred-year-old olive trees lend their gnarly forms to the landscape, and the 7–8 million almond trees make the Mallorca look like it's covered with snow in February when they bloom.

Many different peoples, including Romans, Carthaginians, and Arabs, have all lived on this beautiful island. All have left their marks of influence easily seen by some architectural remains. Native stone is the construction material for the majority of buildings.

This island has domiciles dating back to ancient royalty and modern-day individuals wealthy enough to call Mallorca their home. Artists choose to live here in great numbers, and inspiration for their creativity is seemingly endless by the beauty seen everywhere.

This former Moorish hamlet lies 425 meters above sea level and is the highest village. Fishing villages and ports dot the landscape around the perimeter of Mallorca. Valldemossa's town is also known for its crafts, including forging, ceramics, and numerous hand-crafted embroideries. Many shops offer their unique handicrafts for sale.

Carthusian Monastery in Valldemossa

King James ll of Mallorca had a palace built on this spot in Valldemossa, and in 1399 it was given by King Martin the Human of Aragon to the Carthusian Order of monks for a monastery to be constructed.

Many renovations took place during the years, and at some point, it became a convent. This change dates back to the 18th century. In 1835 the government "dis-entailed" the convent, and except for the church and vestry, it sold on a public auction.

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While the monks were in residence, they each had three cells (rooms), and these rooms looked out onto a garden plot which each monk tended. It overlooked a beautiful view of the town below, as well as terraced hillsides.

An abundance of roses planted outside the monastery serves as markers for headstones in the cemetery for the monks who died here. After the monks left the monastery, many people stayed there as guests.

Chopin and George Sand

One of the more famous guests was Frederic Chopin. In December of 1838, Chopin arrived in Valldemossa, intending to stay there through the winter and improve his precarious health. He suffered from chronic pulmonary pneumonia.

Chopin lived with George Sand (pseudonym for Armandine Aurore Lucie Dupin), the French writer who wrote the booklet A Winter in Mallorca. Her staying there was very scandalous, especially for that day and time. She wore pants and smoked, was not married, and she was there with her two children! Their several month-long affairs have now become part of a local tourist attraction.

Today the site of the Carthusian Monastery is the most symbolic of structures when people think of Valldemossa. It certainly dominates the skyline of the small town. Now open as a museum, tourists can roam through the rooms seeing how the monks and priests would have lived. There is a music room where people hold local concerts. An annual Chopin concert is also in this location. A Pleyel piano Chopin played while there during the winter of 1838–1839 remains inside the monastery.

Recommendation

The spectacular beauty of its location with all of the stone houses, terraced hillsides, pretty little seaport, and historic Carthusian Monastery makes for a fascinating visit to Valldemossa on the Island of Mallorca. This author would recommend a visit to anyone who comes to the Island.

Sources:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

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