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For many small sized towns and villages on Mallorca, the need to arrange a hire car for the duration of your stay is ever more apparent. Whilst we would not go as far to suggest that a stay in Sant Joan does not warrant the use of a hire car, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that a good number of attractions are found here. This, coupled with the towns central location allows the visitor to avail themselves to a good variety of attractions, all of which are within short travelling distance.
As already mentioned, the majority of the attractions here take on religious contexts. The most notable of these is the parish church of Sant Jean Baptiste. Built between 1927 and 1939, this comparatively modern building mixes old with new. The temple that existed on the site from 1751 to 1791 remains intact, as do the walls at the front of today's chapel.
The bell tower, balcony and pyramidal spire all remain from the original temple. Once inside, you will find that the interior has three naves whilst the central hall resembles that of a gallery. The ceiling and isles are carefully decorated with coffers of Joan Ginart, whilst between the pillars in the gallery stand statues of the apostles.
The central wall of the gallery is decorated with paintings depicting the birth, preaching and martyrdom of St John the Baptist. Various pieces of furniture have also found their way to the newer building, with the organ and the alter all having previously been set in the former church.
In keeping with the religious theme that dominates rural Mallorcan villages, the sanctuary of our lady might also hold some appeal. Located 1 km from the town, the sanctuary can be reached by a long and broad set of stone steps. This building is a fine example depicting the lives of the indigenous populations. The beautiful cloisters here make up part of the chapel, built in the 13th Century.
Later renovations in 1755-1780 have also helped created the unique character of the place, whilst more recent changes made between 1959 and 1966 have given the chapel a round skylight portal with polychrome glass. The main hall contains coffered sotil and is illuminated by a dome and six windows. The four arches attached to the side walls are shallow chapels dedicated to St Peter in a great table from the convent of Santo Domingo city, Santo Shristo, Santo Domingo Soriano in san Onofre, and with the image altarpiece of Sant Marcel, san Lorenzo and St Thomas here. Before entering the sanctuary, the hillside steps leading to it contain the mysteries of the rosary in ceramic form.
For those that would like some variety in what they visit, the pleasant surrounding countryside offers many opportunities. The Puig de Sant Nofre are the remains of an old hermitage, the hermitage of Sant Nofre. Although private property, this building dates back to the 15 Century and is set amongst the tranquil and idyllic agricultural lands of Sant Joan. On the lower slopes of the mountains there are fields of wild olive and carob trees in addition to oaks and shrubs that dissect the typically Mediterranean landscape.
Located a little further afield, the Els Calderers is an old farmhouse situated at the foot of the Puig de Bonany. This rustic estate contains buildings that are typical of the architectural style of the Pla de Mallorca municipality. Built in 1700, the charm of this era seems to have been recaptured in the working farm that can be visited today. In the stables and pens, a good number of animals are kept, many of which are indigenous breeds.
A small workshop containing a wine cellar as well as agricultural equipment and tools in their original form can be viewed here too. Perhaps ideal for those that wish to view an authentic side of Mallorca that isn’t dominated by religion.
Sant Joan holds a good number of festivals throughout the year. In addition to the usual Christmas and Easter celebrations, several festivals occur during the conventional tourist season. These include the "Esta del Sol que Bailla" or known in English as the Fiesta of the Dancing sun. This celebration takes place on June 24th each year which marks the birthday of John the Baptist and is organised by the PTA of the Collegi Son Juny. Early in the morning, the children get up to go to the Santuari de Consolacio to watch the sun rise where it seems to be dancing for joy. Games and a party usually follow.
Another festival that celebrates St John the Baptist is the Fiesta Patronal de Sant Joan Degollat and occurs on the 29th of August each year. This feast was initially celebrated on the 24th June to mark the saints birth date, but was changed to the present date at the beginning of the 20th Century. This celebration appears to be older then one might initially suspect. An ancient document dated 1498 suggests that special events and celebrations were carried out in the village to mark the patrons feast day.
Other festivals of note include the La Mare de Deu de Lluc set on the 12th of September and is the date when many villagers walk to the monastery at Lluc. Just over a week later on the 21st, celebrations are held in honour of Sant Mateu. This is the time of the grape harvest and more recently, is also the date of the founding of the Sant Joan Folk Group, Aires de Pagesia (1976). The day is usually celebrated with dancing and music by the group.
A weekly market is held each Thursday in the Calle de Mestre Mas and offers the visitor the opportunity to purchase several varieties of local produce.
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