On a warm August night each year, some 10,000 people set off from Plaza Güell in Palma to walk the 50 km to Santuari de Lluc , on a moonlight pilgrimage known as Des Güell a Lluc a Peu.
The roads leading from Palma to Lluc are transformed as cars are replaced by thousands of people walking to the monastery. At a good pace it takes around 11 hours to reach Lluc monastery. If you join in, you will see young and old participating in this right of passage, so much so that it is rare to find someone on Mallorca who has not attempted the challenge.There is a return shuttle from Lluc back to Palma .
Santuari de Lluc is Mallorca’s most sacred pilgrimage site. Nestled in a forested valley the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Tramuntana Mountains, it is really quite breathtaking .
Lluc, comes from the name given by the Romans to the natural location of the sanctuary (lucus), meaning‘sacred forest’.
Legend has it that in the 13th century a Moorish shepherd boy, newly converted to Christianity, discovered a dark wooden statue of the Virgin in a cleft in the rock. The image was placed in the local church but three times it returned miraculously to its cave, whereupon the villagers recognised this as a message from God so a small chapel was built on the exact spot where the discovery was made.
La Moreneta (‘the Little Dark One’) or Black Madonna, as it is known is a statue depicting the Virgin with baby Jesus in her arms now encrusted with precious stones which sits in its own side chapel within the basilica. The Virgin of LLuc is revered as the patroness of Mallorca.
News spread of this miracle and pilgrimages to the area began, and in the 14th century a hospice, Els Porxerets, (the pilgrims quarters ) was built with stabling beneath. It is still possible to stay overnight in these rooms, but without your horse as the stable is now an en-suite bathroom! Popular with hikers who are walking the Dry Stone GR221 route which runs from the south to the north of the island LLuc, offers a perfect stopping point especially as the site is serviced by a cafe, restaurant and bakery.
Today pilgrims and tourists flock to the site , especially on Sundays and weekdays at 11am to enjoy the daily concerts by the famous Lluc Cathedral Choir established in 1531 or `Los Blauets de Lluc ´ as they are known ( named after their blue cassocks worn by the choristers ). Performing during Holy Week, they sing from the Song of the Sybil, a melody with a Gregorian base which dates back to the Middle Ages.
An ecclesiastical college and monastic building housing the chapel and museum have been added to the complex that we see today.
In the mid-50’s, Lluc Botanical Garden was established, intended as a garden of meditation.
Remodeled and expanded it is now home to more than 300 different species, including rare plants, medicinal herbs from the Balearic Islands and trees and shrubs from all over the world.
Santuari de Lluc is open year round, so whether you intend to visit on foot, two wheels or four, make sure it is on your Mallorca itinerary.