Language

Currency

Discover our villas

The Culture, Tradition and Heritage of the Balearic Islands

Renowned for its rich heritage and traditions, the Balearic Islands captivate curious travellers in search of something different. Its history continues to inspire painters, musicians and authors. These Mediterranean islands were once Greek, Punic, Phoenician, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, Moorish, Catalan-Aragonese and independent, before finally becoming part of the Spanish crown.

The Culture, Tradition and Heritage of the Balearic Islands - Ibiza

The heritage of the region

The centuries of occupation endured by the Balearic Islands have given rise to a colourful architecture visible throughout the islands. For example, the houses of Menorca bear witness to the Anglo-Saxon style of the 1700s, while the cathedral of Palma symbolises the victory of the Catholic Spaniards over the Muslim Moors. 
The Balearic Islands' heritage also includes a renowned craft industry whose skills in producing goods have been handed down from generation to generation. Each island has its own specialities. Mallorca, for example, is famous for its blown glass, ceramics (Gerrettes), pottery (Siurell), fabrics (tela de lenguas), leather, musical instruments and iron, steel and palm leaf work. Menorca is known for its leather work, with its Menorquinas, the island's signature shoes, known throughout the world. Ibiza and Formentera have developed a craft industry based on jewellery and textiles, which was greatly influenced by the hippy community in the 1970s. Numerous markets and craft fairs are regularly organised on the islands: something not to be missed during your stay in our Balearic villas.

Festivities and traditions: San Juan festival

For many years, Spain has been a proudly Catholic country. The Balearic Islands are no exception to this rule: most of the traditions celebrated there are religious in origin. Masses and processions are still important, and festivals are organised in honour of the patron saint, the Virgin Mary or to commemorate historical events. Whether religious or not, there is a continuous stream of village festivals all taking place in a jovial atmosphere.

Saint John's Day, on 23 and 24 June, is one of the most emblematic events in the Balearic Islands. The way it is celebrated differs depending on which island you are on. In Mallorca, devils (dimonis) run through the city of Palma, noisily crossing the Parque del Mar with torches in their hands, in a theatrical display known as a correfoc, in which locals run under the shower of sparks produced by the torch fireworks. Later, the islanders gather on the beaches around large bonfires and dance the night away. The tradition of bonfires is similar on Ibiza and Formentera. Menorca has its own version of San Juan. On 23 June in Ciutadella (the island's former capital), the horse is the star of the day: riders parade through the streets and make their horses jump to the rhythm of the music.

The Culture, Tradition and Heritage of the Balearic Islands - Ibiza

The Balearic Islands like a local: our advice

Knowing the regional traditions and customs is necessary if you want to become like a local. In the Balearic Islands, some of these can be surprising. Read our tips to learn more about the customs of the archipelago. 

- Unlike in French, the use of the familiar 'tu' form is very common in Spanish and Catalan. This may surprise you, especially if it comes from a shopkeeper or a taxi driver. However, the use of first names in Spanish only expresses a desire for friendship and sympathy and is not a form of disrespect. 

- As a general rule, the streets are busy from mid-morning until 3pm, when Spaniards have their lunch break. The activity picks up after the siesta around 5pm and does not end until late in the evening. 

- The Balearic archipelago is a very devout region, attached to its religious traditions. It is therefore important not to visit the churches during the prayers and services that take place there. 

- Unlike the seaside resorts where the popular dress is a swimming costume, it is necessary to dress decently in the cities and when visiting monuments.

Discover the Balearic Islands by reading, watching and listening...

Many painters, musicians and film-makers have been inspired in their work by the Balearic Islands. To read, watch or listen to these works is to further immerse yourself in the local culture and discover new sides of the archipelago. 

Cinema:

More by Barbet Schroeder: This 1969 film tells the story of a German travelling to Ibiza in the 1970s. During his stay, he discovers the pleasures and horrors of drugs through an American woman with whom he falls in love. The film depicts a wild Ibiza, still empty of tourists. The soundtrack is by Pink Floyd.

Isla Bonita by Fernando Colomo: This 2015 film was shot entirely in the Balearic Islands. It tells the story of Fer, an advertising director who, following his divorce, moves to Menorca to live a sort of retirement. While there, he meets people who alter the course of his life. 

Literature:

Legend has it that Jules Verne ventured to the Pityuse Islands (Ibiza and Formentera) to write one of his most famous novels: The Mysterious Island.

Meanwhile, A Winter in Majorca by George Sand: this autobiographical travelogue published in 1942 tells the story of George Sand on holiday in the Balearic Islands with her two children and her gravely ill lover Frédéric Chopin.

Cabrera, or the Emperor of the Dead by Baltasar Porcel, 2002: is a novel set in the Balearic Islands. A veteran tells the story of his internment in one of the islets of the archipelago (Cabrera Bay) after the defeat of the French Napoleonic troops in Andalusia in 1808. 

Art and Architecture:

It is impossible to talk about the cultural heritage of the Balearic Islands without mentioning Joan Miro. This 20th-century Catalan-Mallorcan artist of international renown turned the art world upside down with his avant-garde works. He considered the island of Mallorca to be the place that allowed him to fulfil himself. Indeed, it was in this region that Miró, initially a Fauvist, Cubist and Surrealist, finally found his definitive style. 

This relationship with the Spanish island undoubtedly began with the artist's childhood, punctuated by stays in Soller, his marriage to his wife, Pilar, of Mallorcan origin, and the Second World War, which he fled by taking refuge in Mallorca. To show his gratitude to the island that had given him so much, in 1981 the artist created the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation in Palma with the aim of providing the city with a living cultural centre. The establishment is currently open to visitors and houses more than 6,000 works by the artist. 

After his death, Miró's descendants made a conscious decision to donate some of his works to the city of Palma to honour the artist's relationship with Mallorca, the best known being the bronze sculptures in the gardens of the Palau de Marivent, the Monument to the Dona next to the Palau Reial and the ceramic mural in the Parc de la Mar.

To visit the Balearic Islands is to discover a land of distinctive character, whose traditions have been shaped by the different civilisations that have succeeded one another there. It is also a festive land populated by warm and welcoming inhabitants. In short, the Spanish archipelago shines brightly thanks to its unique architecture and its substantial cultural heritage.

Discover our selection of luxury villas for your next trip Ibiza

Can Ribes

4 Bedrooms

Villa Garroba

3 Bedrooms

Villa Lolea

7 Bedrooms