San Marroig enjoys some of the best Views of Tramuntana
Jun 04, 2015
Perched high in the Tramuntana Mountains, about two miles west of Deia, is the large estate and country house of the Archduke Ludwig Salvator, son of Leopold III of Tuscany and an ardent admire of Mallorca. Today his former home, Son Marroig, houses the splendid Ludwig Salvator Museum. Son Marroig makes for a fabulous day trip destination with car hire from Mallorca Airport.
As a distant member of the ruling House of Habsburg-Lorraine, Ludwig Salvator led a carefree and privileged life, but was unhappy in marriage. He had married Princess Mathilde at the age of 21, but during a parade, when the young princess couldn't bear the endless standing around any longer, she sneaked off for a quiet cigarette and somehow managed to set fire to her elaborate attire, suffering horrific burns. She died as a consequence of her injuries, leaving behind a heartbroken young Ludwig.
The young Archduke Salvator von Habsburg-Lothringen, as Ludwig was officially called, visited Mallorca's north coast, after he retired from Vienna's court. He initially visited the island incognito, using his title Count of Neuendorf as a pseudonym. Ludwig adored the clean air, dazzling azure skies and sparkling crystal clear waters and fell in love all over again, this time with nature.
He went hiking in peasant clothes and explored the Tramuntana region, making notes and sketches along the way, which he later used to compile one of the most comprehensive books ever written on the island, "The Balearics", a work in several volumes published in 1884.
Ludwig owned two steam-yachts, Nixe I and Nixe II, with which he explored much of the Mediterranean. Today, many people regard the Archduke as an early ecologist, way ahead of his time, taking an interest in island eco-systems and a stance against over-development when nobody else did.
Saving Mallorca's natural Beauty from Development
He purchased his first property in 1872, Miramar and Miramar Monastery, which had been founded in 1276 by none other than Mallorca's most revered philosopher and teacher, Ramon Llull. Following this first step, Ludwig Salvator continued buying property, including Son Marroig, various neighbouring estates and historic olive plantations situated along Mallorca's northern coastline in order to prevent development on this stretch of land.
Sadly, at the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, Archduke Ludwig Salvator was recalled home by his anxious family. He was never to set foot in Mallorca again. Ludwig died at the family's castle in Bohemia in March 1915 and was buried in Vienna, not his beloved Balearics.
Today, much of the Archduke's properties and estates belong to Hollywood actor Michael Douglas, but Son Marroig, the Archduke's main residence on the island, has been managed by his secretary's family since 1927. Antoni Vives' family has been responsible for preserving the estate, maintaining the house in the same manner and style as the Archduke would have done. Brimming with paintings, books and photographs as well as many objects of Ludwig's interesting life, Son Marroig is well worth a visit, if you happen to be touring the island with car rental from Mallorca Airport.