Where are we and how is the geography of Calvià?
The municipality of Calvia is located in the western part of Mallorca, forming with the municipality of Andratx western peninsula historically known as the Pariatge. It is a neighbour area to Palma, but until the arrival of mass tourism it was a marginal area within the whole of the island, to such an extent that Jovellanos doesn't mention it in his description of Mallorca. Marginal land consistings of two rural small towns: Calvià and Es Capdellà. With the arrival of tourism it will become the second municipality on the island by population and today is an economic engine for our island.
The western foothills of the Serra de Tramuntana come to an end in Calvià, setting at the same time the northern part of the Bay of Palma and forming one of the longest coastines all the municipalities of Mallorca with 39 km in length. The municipality has an area of 145.52 square kilometres, amonsgt the largest of the island. A great area of Calvià borders the sea, being the land borders the municipalities of Palma, Puigpunyent, Estellencs and Andratx. Since 2009 the population has risen over 50,000 inhabitants and is scattered about in 28 residential areas.
If you want to know more about our geography, download the article ,"Calvià en el Occidente mallorquín" written by M. Seguí Llinás of the Universitat de les Illes Balears.
The Sierra de Tramuntana
Our orography through the main Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range is divided into two parallel smaller ones, leaving a valley in the center. Towards the north, the mountain range includes the Galatzó and s'Esclop mountains, and at the south, it ends at the sea at Peguera and Cala Fornells. Further east, from the Puig de na Bauçà and the Puig de Benàtiga, it binds with another parallel ridge that we call Serra de na Burguesa and that also ends at the sea by the Puig d'en Saragossa and the cliffs of Cala Figuera, forming the south coast of the Bay of Palma.
In the middle of the two mountain ranges we find the most fertile land traditionally dedicated to agriculture, that is where the two villages of the municipality are: Calvià and es Capdellà. So, we have a municipality bordered by mountain elevations, with a central valley that opens to the sea by a very jagged coastline, forming coves, beaches and cliffs, hence its great coastal variety.
It is the Sierra de Tramuntana which gives us our excellent climate, as it protects us from winds, and the Puig de Galatzó is the most important elevation of the municipality, the symbol of Calvià and the mythical place of the villagers imagination, that is why it has become the true landmark of the Calvià.
Around the Galatzó estate
The main first circular area or crown from the Galatzó estate is formed by the raised portion of the plain, where the two old villages of es Capdellà and Calvià are, both separated by an elevation forming Son Font. This area symbolizes the rural Calvià and, despite the proliferation of secondary residences, some foreign resident homes and a few agrotourism, it still preserves the traditional flavour of the Mallorcan villages.
This is where the fields are still breathing an ancient smell, and where properties with their almond, carob and olive trees, and grazing sheep, give it this bucolic environment so far from the bustle of the coast. There are two worlds separated by just a few kilometres, but radically different, and this space wants to be used as a new tourist lure in the process of tourism diversification that promotes the coastal sector. This area is crossed by the torrent of Santa Ponça, which receives different names depending on the section. From the foot of the Galatzó hill and along the entire plain, a lot of torrent beds collect rainwater and they are joined together to form very near to its mouth, the torrent of Santa Ponça.
The second circular area or crown would be formed by the descent from this plain to the coast and limits with the western motorway as a man-made. This transition zone between the deep rural area and the tourist one, consists of two very different aspects. The westernmost from Son Vic Vell to Peguera, is crossed by the torrent of Es Gorg and is the one that preserves its rural aspect in a better way, that barely sees change from the first crown; and the easternmost, which is losing gradually its rural character faster due especially to the implementation of the industrial area of Son Bugadelles, becoming a transition zone between the rural and the urban world, with modern residential areas such as the Galatzó neighborhood, close to the motorway.
The urban area has overcome the motorway barrier and this psychological barrier has collapsed, causing this transition zone in which the second crown has turned into.
The Serra de na Burguesa
The third area or crown is formed by the Serra de na Burguesa and continues between the motorway and the sea. Despite the varied terrain of this coastal zone, human occupation has been intense and homogeneous in residential and tourist function. This part of the municipality is the one that has completely changed the idiosyncrasies of Calvià, its functionality and its economy.
In general terms, the coastline is quite rugged. From Cas Català and Illetes coast has cliffs, with lots of ins and outs and some small beaches such as Illetes. The first bigger open beaches start at Palmanova and Magaluf. From Cala Vinyes and along the entire tip of Cala Figuera the steep coast with clifftops dominates again, with just a few small coves, such as Portals Vells or Cala Figuera. You have to wait until Santa Ponça to find a wide beach, which is quickly limited by the cliffs as we head towards Costa de la Calma and Peguera where we find the last big beaches before returning to the cliffs on the Cala Fornells and Cap Andritxol area.
Finally, very near the coast, there are several islands, some very interesting in terms of flora and fauna, and some, such as the Malgrats islands, with an underwater platform. These islands are, starting at eastern end, the Illetes islands, Sa Porrassa, El Sec, El Toro and Malgrats islands.
The northern part of the municipality of Calvià is right inside the mountainous area of the Sierra de Tramuntana. Orographic alignments of the region have a number of dislocations with a structure of scales and shifts of high importance. The predominance of limestone, with intense karstic activity, makes admirable poljes filled with red earth, lapiaz and sinkholes. On the plains there are valleys of torrential origin, and, along the escarpments of the mountains, extensive copies of erosion glacis.
The folds are generally directed from SE to NW, presenting the sharp front on the coastal side. However, on the southern slope, the mountain has a smooth shape with plenty of vegetation, while on the north face it is staggered, steep and rectilinear. Differential erosion, guided by the faults network and karst depressions, has opened a series of valleys.
At the foot of the mountains, especially in the Calvià-Puigpunyent sector, we also find a number of typical shapes of glaciar erosion. In these and other sectors erosion has played an important role in digging their beds. Arable land only reaches where the glacis begins, marks the limit of their use as best land for crops.
Finally there are considerable extensions from the quaternary that cover the Cala Figuera península and which are formed by ancient alluvium, shallow and ancient beaches, along with other modern sediments, being the land that emerges ancient dunes.
The ancient alluvium have resulted today due to marine erosion, in the cliffs of Penyes Rotges and Portals Nous. The land from ancient beaches of marine transgressions are common in the area. The consolidated dunes cove the material structure in Portals Vells and Cala Figuera. These dunes were used to produce building sandstone, as evidenced by the presence of abandoned quarries.
Calvia has an oceanic climate of Mediterranean character, characteristic of the island of Mallorca, with a warm and dry summer with little rainfall, as opposed to a mild winter. The average temperature in summer is 27º and 14º in winter, so we have a climate with mild winters, where temperatures below 0 ° C are rare, and quite hot summers.
The region in which Calvià is has a very irregular distribution of rain. Annual rainfall totals range from a lowest of 313.54 mm at the station Lighthouse in Cala Figuera, the southernmost point, up to a maximum of 863.48 mm at the northern end of the municipality. Overall precipitation grows steadily northward as we move into the Sierra de Tramuntana.
The rainy season begins abruptly with strong and even torrential rain, sometimes stormy. This season begins in late August or early September and reaches the end of December. October is the wettest month in the region. After the autumn rains, the winter ones comes, moderate and long lasting. These winter rains are interrupted in January, the month in which usually an anticyclonic regime that reduces rainfall predominates. After this time, the rain returns with a slight increase in rainfall in the months of February and early March. In spring it rains again, although not so strong as in autumn. After these, we enter the summer dryness.
The distribution of land units in the municipality of Calvià partially coincides with the vegetation and human use.
In the Cala Figuera area the substrate is very permeable, and low rainfall conditions cause pronounced aridity. The area is dominated by heather and rosemary, which are normally covered with pine forest. In this region mankind had created farming land, which coincided with the low land areas. Therefore, until a few decades ago, the landscape was characterized by the contrast of pine trees rooted to the mountains, hills, coastline and large areas treeless, dedicated to crops, with a few fences and marked by the yellow colour range of the soil.
In the contact area between the coastal area and the central part of the municipality there were two important wetlands, which constitute another different type of landscape: the big salty area of Magaluf and the salty area of Santa Ponça. At present, from the first one there are only some traces in not very good condition; in other times it was characterized by the presence of large areas of reeds and plants adapted to conditions of high salinity. Until the last century this pond was one of the distribution areas of water turtles. The Santa Ponça one has also been reduced to a minimum.
Towards the north, in the central part of the municipality and especially around urban areas, the terrain changes significantly, with deeper soils in which there are loamy substrates (of whitish color), softer and not very permeable. The coincidence of these circumstances with more significant rainfall causes wetter conditions, which allows the growth of aok forests (Quercus ilex) and pine forests, which often have a very thick undergrowth in which madrones (Arbutus unedo) grow, mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), steppes (Cistus sp.), etc. This area is the only known habitat in Mallorca for the Spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) and forms one of the most notable biogeographical particularities of the municipality.
The landscape becomes a mosaic in which the crops that occupy the bottom of the valleys and gentle slopes, alternate with forests, which are often rooted in the peaks and steepest parts. As a note of contrast, small areas of irrigated land appear not too far from the water streams. In these places, the presence of an interesting spontaneous vegetation linked to watercourses stands out, and so in the final stretch of the torrent of Santa Ponça torrent a riverbank forest appears with deciduous species such as ash and poplar trees, and thick areas of common reed grass.
Another sector also located in the central area of the municipality, which has a peculiar landscape is the foothill, linking the area of the Serra de Na Burguesa with the coast. The transition of these areas of land is marked by a slightly sloping plain and human occupation has modified large fields of almond and carob trees that reach the coastline.
The landscape of the municipality's land fully included in the Sierra de Tramuntana is similar to that of the neighbouring municipalities of Esporles and Puigpunyent, with the tops of the great mountains covered in oaks, often mixed with pine trees, and the slopes and bottom the valleys with almond, carob and olive groves that once were part of complex dry stone wall terraces, that reach amazing masonry skill levels around Valldurgent.
The northern end of the municipality and around the Puig de Galatzó and Mola de s'Esclop and has the typical landscape of the highest part of the Serra, with the absence of trees and large stretches of calcareous rock colonized by mallorcan mountain scrubland formations, highlighting the presence of reeds, dwarf fan palms and small thorny bushes. The calcareous composition of land has favored the existence of important forms of karst land, with caves and some potholes. There are lots of these cavities in the area of Na Burguesa.
The current landscape has received strong impact of the urban expansion process, which has changed the coastline and an important part of the grounds of the coastline of Cala Figuera and the central part of the municipality. In contrast to the models of the pre-tourism landscape, some very different models have appeared, but marked by the imprint of urban activities from residential areas of low density, to the residential areas with houses between division walls and areas brought to a standstill by the proliferation of apartments and hotels. Athey all contrast with the inland areas that maintaining the previous landscape before the building processes of the last 50 years.