Treasure white in the Serra de Tramuntana
Among its virtues, the landscape of the largest of the Balearic Islands hides a corner that seems designed for poets, musicians and artisans. On the northwest coast of Majorca, Serra de Tramuntana rises imposingly above the Mediterranean, making a natural barrier for the island against the northern winds, winds that formerly came laden with snow. For centuries, this idyllic spot was a huge ice factory and important economic activity for its inhabitants. In spring, when the last snowfall ceased, the 'nevaters' went up to the highest areas of the mountain, about 900 meters above sea level, to collect and store what the clouds had left during the winter.
Armed with shovels and baskets, they worked for weeks around the 'cases de neu', wells built in stone inside which they placed the snow, trod on it to press it and turned it into ice. Then they insulated the constructions with tiled roofs or canes and went back to the village to wait for the good weather. In summer they returned to the well to cut blocks of ice that were transported by donkey overnight to ports and nearby towns, where it was sold both to make therapeutic remedies and for culinary uses (ice cream, beverages, etc..).
Today, Serra de Tramuntana still hides more than 40 of these craft refrigerators amongst the rocks, some of which have been restored to the millimetre. This is the case of the de'n Galileu snow house in Escorca, a well built in 1692 and which produced ice for three centuries until it was finally abandoned in 1908. From Puigpunyent to Pollença, over a whole network of hiking trails, these stone structures are now a good excuse see one of the most beautiful and hidden sites on Majorca.
Photos: Consell de Mallorca
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