History is a mirror in which we see ourselves reflected, both individually and jointly. Esporles is an ancient town and so it guards many keys to understanding its character, slowly forged generation after generation. This route offers an insight into Esporles through ten places that represent important landmarks in local history.
Places steeped in history
The route begins at a bridge called Pont des Badaluc, one of the town's place names of Arab origins, derived from the word ba'da al-lyy, meaning ‘behind the precipice’–an apt description as you will see. It then passes Sant Pere Church, founded in the 13th century after the 1229 conquest. From its construction through until modern times, it was surrounded by countryside. The church that can be seen today is the outcome of major alterations in the early 20th century at the initiative of parish priest Mateu Togores i Maimó. Next to the parish church is the rectory, the oldest building to survive in the town (documented as existing in the 14th century).
Vila Vella (the old quarter) is the oldest part of the town, largely built between the 16th and 17th centuries. It grew up on land belonging to the rectory and on the fringes of Son Dameto estate. In contrast, in the far south of the town is a new quarter called Vila Nova, which first began to be developed in the 18th century to house the growing population with the establishment of Rafal des Capellans estate. Architecturally, they are simple, sober-looking properties, including an interesting series of houses with painted roof tiles (such as Can Joan Raveta,1778; and Ca ses Cartes, 1808).
With Spain's first constitutions (in the 19th century) and the early growth of factories and industrial activities (1870), Esporles' economy started to diversify. With the establishment of Son Tries estate, the avenue known as Passeig Joan Riutort was created, lined with properties in belle époque style.
The 20th century brought changes with it, particularly social ones. One sign of this is the Casa del Poble, a building inaugurated in 1930 by the Esporles Workers' Federation. It housed a theatre, meeting rooms, a library and different local trade unions from the construction, textile and agricultural sectors.
Among other things, the 20th century was an important century for education. To combat illiteracy during Spain's 2nd Republic, the schools known as Escoles Velles were built, based on plans by architect Guillem Forteza. Today they house the offices of Imedea (the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies).
The last place of interest is the town hall, built during the first half of the 20th century to embody the values of representation, participation and equality. Today, these may sound like everyday words, but it must be remembered that many generations of people from Esporles fought to make these things a reality.