Just because the lush, seafront city of Alcudia is a mere 24 square miles (60 square kilometres) that has no bearing on how much this lovely port and ancient city on the island’s nether region, can offer holiday makers.
You can find it, as the Romans did, in the northern reaches of Mallorca around an hour or so away from Mallorca’s capital, Palma. Sure it doesn’t have the buzzy boozy nightlife of Magaluf – thankfully. Instead it is home to gorgeous landscape, plenty of heritage (history books cite a Bronze Age population), a lovely family friendly beach and a sensational art destination that is crying out to be found.
Exploring the old town of Alcudia
The Moors got there in the 9th century and stayed for 300 years. They named this ancient hill top city “Al-Qudya” which means the hill in Arabic.
They were defeated by King James I in 1298. But it was King James II who designed the 14th century quadrangular shaped ramparts. The 6m high walls are still intact and they make for a lovely stroll giving views over roof tops and private terraces. Its 1.5 km length is dotted with 26 towers and two gates – Porta de Xara and Porta de Mallorca – which have been declared National Monuments.
They almost surround the compact old town whose quaint winding roads are hemmed by sandstone architecture that look prettiest in the golden-hued late afternoon sunlight. Within them are a flurry of quaint shops and restaurants.
You are bound to pass the white-washed Ajuntament d’Alcúdia (Town Hall) and its pretty gold topped clock tower in the Calle Mayor area.
Alcudia has a fabulous wide-brimmed, soft-sand beach on Platja d’Alcúdia and is one of the longest on the island. It’s ideal for young families because around here the beach has reassuringly shallow waters, especially by Playa De Muro. Yet it also offers hidden coves and impressive cliffs that feature along its 14km long stretch all the way to Can Picafort. For the kids there’s a fun theme water park by the water’s edge, go karting and crazy golf.
The Roman town of Ciudad de Pollentia
Located close between Bahía de Pollensa and Bahía de Alcudia, and conveniently close to old town of Alcudia are the remains of a the Roman capital of the Balearic Islands. It’s called Ciudad de Pollentia (which means city of power, a name that gives an insight as to how the Romans perceived themselves). It’s been years of excavation to reveal an incredible 12 hectares of ruins from the 1st century BC. Most of it is easy to discern and each segment has a notice board of information to help the juices of the imagination conjure up visuals of what might have been.
Founded by Quinto Cecilio Metel the city comprises three segments: the residential district – barrio de La Portella – where you can see some streets and buildings of the time, a 100m segment of the city walls and the Forum. Around 15 minutes away on the outskirts of the Roman city is the Roman theatre. Yes, it’s a long walk but as a perk, you get to see some verdant land and pretty wild flowers along the way.
The Romans loved theatrics and this theatre’s capacity of up to 2,000 people is testament to that. Test the acoustics, you’ll be impressed with the sound. Or climb the steps to the top for a highly instagrammable photo. Beware though, depending on the time of year, mosquitoes linger here, so keep repellant handy.
The entrance fee is 4 euros a person (kids free) and gives access to the museum located elsewhere in town. Just follow the red Roman symbols painted on the pavement from the entrance of the site to the monographic museum next to the church.
Museo Sa Bassa Blanca
For art lovers Sa Bassa Blanca museum is the highlight of Alcudia and a destination in its own right. Yet it is squirrelled away just outside town so you’ll need a car to get there.
It has its roots in the 70s when artists and collectors Ben Jakober and Yannick Vu acquired a farmhouse. With the help of Egyptian architect, Hassan Fathy, they transformed it into an impressive, sprawling Hispano-Moorish building with appealing white domes, tiled floors and doors and a courtyard with several styles of gardens with lush mountains as the backdrop and views of the sea beyond.
Though they no longer live there, this gorgeous building makes for a interesting nose-around. It’s full of curiosities and various collections of modern and contemporary art and 50 photographic portraits of key artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. One room is dedicated to sculptures by Meret Oppenheim, Antoni Miralda, Takis and Alan Rath. An entire room is also dedicated to the creations by Vu Cao Dam, Yannick Vu’s dad.