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Apart from the stunning mountain scenery surrounding the town, the most popular attraction in the area around Alaro is a visit to the Castell d'Alaro, which is situated 822 metres above the town on the top of the mountain of the same name. As we mentioned briefly on our general introduction page, walking to the summit of the mountain is certainly not for the faint hearted, or those with mobility problems, and generally takes about two hours from Alaro, but once there you can certainly reward yourself with a well earned glass of sangria at the XVII Century Mare de Deu del Refugi sanctuary and hostelry, whilst admiring the panoramic views over the island towards both the Palma and Alcudia bays and the magnificent Tramuntana mountain ranges.
Although on the peak of the mountain there are also a number of archaeological sites dating from the talaiotic period, it is believed that the Romans where the first built a fortification here. The first historical documentation of the Castell d'Alaro dates back to around 900AD during the Muslim conquest of the island, where towers and walls were raised, and water cisterns constructed. This occupation continued for over 300 years, until the reconquest of Mallorca was undertaken in 1231 by King Jaume I of Spain. During the 14th Century minor alterations were made to the structure of Castell d'Alaro, but unfortunately from the 15th Century onward it was allowed to fall into a state of neglect, and today all that now remains is evidence of the walls, towers and wells.
Despite the long and bloody history of the Castell d'Alaro, to most residents of the town the castle will always be most closely
associated with the legend of the two Mallorcan independence fighters, Guillem Cabrit and Guillem Bassa, and the army of King
Alfonso of Aragon. Local legends say that in 1285 Guillem Cabrit and Guillem Bassa were given the opportunity to surrender
to the armies of Alfonso, during which the exchange between the two parties went as follows:-
"In whose name?" shouted Cabrit (Cabrit in Mallorquin means Kid goat)
"In the name of Alfonso" (Alfonso being a type of fish in Mallorcan) came the reply.
In a play on words, Cabrit then replied that he preferred his fish to be served with parsley.
The reply from the leader of the attackers was that he preferred his kid to be roasted on a spit.
Cabrit and Bassa were eventually defeated by the army of King Alfonso, and as a further acting out of the exchanges the Mallorcans were then publically roasted alive in the Plaza del Lledoner in Alaro. Even today the story of Cabrit and Bassa is told in Alaro, where the local population revere them as Saints.
Fiestas on Mallorca are taken very seriously, and despite it's modest size, Alaro does seem to have more that its fair share throughout the year. However, most visitors to the island will normally miss the first event of the year which is held on January 17th in recognition of Sant Antoni Abat the patron saint of animals. The event normally begins on the evening of the 16th with the lighting of small bonfires, which the local residents sit around and sing traditional songs and roast "botifarrons", which are locally made blood sausages. During the evening the "devils and demons" will normally arrive, causing chaos as they move from one bonfire to the next, usually partaking in a drink or two on the way, and so the night becomes more lively as they travel onwards until the early hours. The following day there is then a colourful parade through the town, culminating in the blessing of the animals in front of the local parish church.
Other fiestas in Alaro also take place to commemorate Sant Pere on the 29th of June, along with Sant Roc, the patron saint of the town, on the 16th of August each year.
Although not strictly a fiesta, a local tradition amongst many of the locals is to walk to the Castell d'Alaro twice a year in order to celebrate a mass in honour of Our Lady del Refugi. Normally this is undertaken on the Sunday after Easter, and again 5 months or so later in September.
Each Friday afternoon a colourful open market is held around the main town square in the centre of Alaro, selling fresh local fruit and vegetables, as well as flowers and craft goods. Also there's a smaller covered market, which opens its doors daily.
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