Heritage properties: Historic country estates on Majorca

Traditional country estates on Majorca, known as posesiones, have remained in the same families for many centuries. In recent years, as estates pass to the next generation, they have occasionally come up for sale on the market. Wealthy Europeans make up the largest buyer group. “It is their historic charm, their often incredible locations, and their sheer size, which would be impossible to reproduce today, that make these properties so special,” said Florian Hofer, Managing Director of Engel & Völkers on the Balearics.

Hondarribia-Irun - The Son Cós estate is situated on a raised plot close to Santa Mariá. It affords panoramic views of the Tramuntana Mountains and the island’s capital Palma de Mallorca. The estate spans more than 100 hectares in total. The land is primarily used nowadays for growing almonds and carob beans. The property is now on sale with Engel & Völkers Majorca Central for 6.5 million euros. (Image source: Engel & Völkers Majorca Central)

A part of Majorca’s history

The history of the posesiones dates back to the 13th century. In 1229, James I, King of Aragon and Catalonia, recaptured Majorca from the Moors. He divided the island up into different regions and rewarded his most trusted aides with landed property. Large agricultural estates were formed and owners divided up the land further over the centuries. It was also James I who laid the foundation stone for the building of the famous cathedral in Palma – as a monument to liberation from Moorish rule.

Many of the country estates were self-sufficient for a long time. Their aristocratic owners had olive oil and wine made, cultivated crops, fruits and vegetables, and kept livestock for meat, cheese and wool. The majority of posesiones can be found in the region of the Sierra Tramuntana, due to the many mountain springs that provided indispensable water sources for agriculture. The main house of a Majorcan posesión traditionally had three storeys: A servants’ kitchen and working quarters on the ground floor, the grand owner’s living quarters on the first floor, known as the “Planta Noble”, and an attic used as servants’ quarters and for drying food. The historic properties also featured many outbuildings such as stables and buildings for the olive oil press or making wine. In most cases, there was also a private chapel in the grounds for mass.

Availability of posesiones remains rare

The interior of such historic properties often spans over 1,500 square metres, while the land on the estate encompasses more than 100 hectares in some cases. “Land is a finite commodity on Majorca. Properties are no longer built on this scale due to strict building regulations and environmental laws. These restrictions are aimed at preserving Majorca’s natural scenery. Anyone looking for a home of this size, therefore, needs to acquire an existing property,” said Florian Hofer. Despite generational changes, it is still rare for posesiones to come onto the market. Alongside size, factors such as location, condition and fittings determine the price. Some historic country estates require extensive renovation, while others come up for sale having already been painstakingly modernised and refurbished. While the posesiones enjoy complete seclusion in the heart of nature, the nearest villages and the international airport in Palma are often just a short drive away. This makes these historic properties highly attractive as second homes. Buyers are usually wealthy business people from Europe aged between 40 and 60 years old. Most are drawn by the privacy, the space and the panoramic views of the mountains or the sea that the posesiones offer. An additional sales argument is the opportunity for interested buyers to produce their own wine, honey and olive oil. Investors make up another buyer group. Their main focus when acquiring these former estates is to convert them into hotels or event venues with a traditional charm.

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