The Raixa country estate and gardens in the foothills of the Tramuntana mountains, just 20 minutes from Palma, are a delight.
Originally a Moorish farmstead, it was the Montenegro family, who took ownership in 1660, who have has the most significant impact on the history of Raixa.
The manor house was updated into the neoclassical style at the turn of the 18th century by Cardinal Despuig, the third son of Count Montenegro, yet still conserves some 16th century elements such as the vaulted ceiling in the chapel and the portico of the “clastra” or courtyard.
But it is the gardens as much as the house that attract today´s visitors. A small stream ran through the estate but it was never sufficient for the immense ornamental gardens that Cardinal Despuig had in mind for the estate so a huge reservoir was built behind the house in the mid 1700s.
Cardinal Despuig became Archbishop of Seville, which meant spending time in Italy where his passion for gardens began. During his travels he bought many Roman antiquities and shipped them to Mallorca to be displayed around the garden.
When the Cardinal died, his nephews continued his work. They developed the gardens further in front of the house which can now be enjoyed from the Italian style loggia (balcony with ornamental arches).
They also continued to develope the gardens behind the house, adding statues, steps and follies set amongst the pine trees and cypresses. Over some 200 years the Montenegro family established a world class estate which drew interest from around the world.
Over the years the Raixa estate has inspired several writers, including Agatha Christie who referred to it in her novel ‘Evil under the Sun,’ the movie of which was later filmed there.
Holding such historical treasures the estate was declared a Cultural Heritage Site in 1993 when it was purchased by the Consell de Mallorca who set about renovating the house and gardens in 2002 after it had fallen into disrepair.
Restoration work on the fabric of the house and gardens was completed in 2009 when the estate was opened to the public.
The gardens are an absolute pleasure to walk around, enjoyed by the Spanish Royal family below, and the renovated house is a fine example of a 17th century Mallorcan manor house, complete with a loggia on the southern façade and a central courtyard.
The gardens are accessed via a grand terrace and monumental neoclassical flight of steps. A large reflecting pond, a small hermitage, a bandstand, a historical pavilion and other elements have been integrated into the landscape. With the Tramuntana mountains as a backdrop, it is hard to beat.
Opening times are from 10am to 5pm from Tuesday to Saturday.
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