It is the middle of summer, the best time to enjoy life. Holidays, trips, the beach, dinners, meetings with friends, love… And in Mallorca, if possible, you can enjoy it even more, because we have a fantastic coast and sea and an atmosphere for all tastes. So today we suggest an idea that both children and adults love: a ride on one of the oldest trains in Spain. Today we will talk to you about the Sóller train.
The industrial revolution emerged in Europe and brought many changes, one of which was the railway. England was the pioneer and it was in 1825 that the first train in the world was inaugurated. It arrived in Spain later (1848) and Mallorca took a little longer, but finally in 1875 we had our train from Palma to Inca. In 1900 we already had 126.75 kilometres of train tracks, quite a lot considering the size of the island.
Sóller is a beautiful place, nestled in the mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana and in a valley surrounded by orange trees. It is barely 30 kms from Palma in a straight line.
But it is precisely the mountains and orange trees that have marked its most recent history. Because in the past the land connection with Palma was complicated, as it was done with an animal-drawn “Diligence”, similar to that of the American West.
However, thanks to its magnificent port, maritime connections were very good, and this benefited greatly the orange trade, which was exported in large quantities to the south of France. Sóller opened up to the world and became richer.
A time of development and new ideas
The beginning of the 20th century was a boom in technical progress: the car, the telephone, the train, even the aeroplane.
In addition to this general context, Sóller also had a good economic level, not only because of trade with France but also because of the return of wealthy people from the last colonies (Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines). The inhabitants of Sóller were eager for modernity, and had advanced elites and even their own bank, the Bank of Sóller.
So in 1905 the “Sociedad Ferrocarril Palma-Sóller SA” was constituted, with 150 founders – shareholders.
The works begin
After resolving all the bureaucratic and legal issues, work began in June 1907. The route would have 4 stations: Sóller, Bunyola, Son Sardina and Palma. But the most complicated would be the tunnels to cross the mountains, 5 in total, the longest with almost 3 kilometres, a challenge for the time.
The work was started with some 400 workers, most of them from the Peninsula and especially Aragonese, Catalan and Valencian, and with a daily wage of approximately 6 pesetas, but charged per meter drilled.
The train starts!
After several years with construction complications, workers’ strikes and other details, the train finally made its first journey on 7 October 1911. After all the tests and adjustments, it has been able to provide its services regularly since April 1912.
But the big official opening party is on April 16th, on a beautiful spring day. At 3 p.m. the convoy of 2 steam engines and 5 wagons full of guests leaves Palma. After the spectacular tour you arrive in Sóller at 17.00, where 3 music bands, a magnificent decoration with flowers and oranges, the authorities and a large crowd await you. The day is exciting, it is a before and after for Sóller, the train has broken the isolation.
1929, a key year
After several years of coal and steam boiler operation, the train in Sóller takes a huge leap forward and switches to electricity, with direct current of 1200 volts. More modern, cleaner, more efficient and quieter.
And so it remains to this day, like a beautiful wagon train and wooden locomotive, with the flavour of the 1920s.
The train, today
Go to the Plaza de España in Palma and you will see a large train and bus station, the intermodal station. But no, what we are interested in is a small, old and coquettish, the station of our wooden train that will take us to Sóller.
We buy a ticket and get into one of the carriages, but we have to hurry, better to take a seat next to the window. The view is worth it.
The whistle blows and the train starts, it’s a journey through time. It feels like 1929. Little by little it is advancing among the traffic, in the middle of the city that has been developing during these years.
Follow the route and the best begins
The rattle can be heard, we are already leaving the city and the views are clear, the air hits us in the face through the old windows. Soon we will arrive at Son Sardina, and later at Bunyola. But the most spectacular thing comes when you reach the mountainous area, with its tunnels, and when you come out of them, impressive views. As we approach the valley of Sóller the view of the little stone houses, the orange trees and above all the aroma of orange blossom fills our senses…
We contemplate the landscape and we don’t want the journey to end, but little by little the train descends and after 1 hour we will have reached our destination. There is a lot to see in Sóller, so both the train ride and a short walk are worthwhile.
If you come to Mallorca… are you going to miss it?