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Decision : 35 COM 8B.34
Cultural Properties - Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana (Spain)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-11/35.COM/8B and WHC-11/35.COM/INF.8B1,

2. Inscribes the Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana, Spain, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii), (iv) and (v);

3. Takes note of the provisional statement of Outstanding Universal Value:  


Brief synthesis

The cultural landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana exemplifies the Mediterranean agricultural landscape, which, after centuries of transformations of the terrain morphology to exploit the scarce available resources and thank to the specific orogenetic, climatic and vegetation conditions, has made productive and well-adapted to human settlement. The system of terraces, common to many Mediterranean landscapes, is combined with an articulated network of devices for the management of water, revolving around farming units of feudal origins.

Criterion (ii): The landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana is an exceptional example of the introduction, by the Arabs, of complex irrigation systems into an island with long periods of drought, to create orchards and vegetable gardens to produce food and generate wealth for the local inhabitants. This waterwork network is combined with the terraced systems created after the Christian conquest, when the changeover to a feudal model expanded the hillside terraced and complex drainage systems. The landscape was transformed becoming covered in hillside terraces of olive groves, and moving from Islamic small farm holdings to the big estates (posesiones), villages and towns that make up the Serra de Tramuntana.

This landscape exemplifies an important cultural exchange between Muslims and Christians, between the North and the South, representative of the Mediterranean area.

Criterion (iv): The cultural landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana represents an outstanding example of the use of Islamic water supply technology combined with terraces and other elements built with the dry-stone technique. All this, over the centuries, has led to a unique place where many different expressions of dry-stone architecture and water technology can be seen. The Islamic world introduced many underground water galleries that perforate the land horizontally in search of water, with narrow galleries that can be hundreds of metres long covered by a vaulted ceiling with vertical ventilation shafts. Subsequently, via complex networks of irrigation ditches and minimal gradients, the water is transported to places where irrigated terraces could be created for citrus fruit trees or orchards. Dry-stone elements are well represented by the construction over the centuries of kilometres of dry-stone walls to sustain the terraced crops that can range from a few centimetres high to several metres, covering hillsides like scales and retaining the little soil there is. Likewise, sophisticated drainage systems were introduced, which help to drain away surplus water and avoid erosion. Additionally, very long walls enclosing estates and endless cobbled roads form a spider's web across the peaks and valleys of the Tramuntana mountains that make this one of the most spectacular dry-stone landscapes in the world.

Criterion (v): Settlements in the Tramuntana area are living examples of the evolution of the Roman model of a settlement through to the Islamic culture and beyond, with their progressive transformation over the centuries to constitute the farm holdings, towns and villages that today mark it. The large plots of land called 'posesiones' make up this landscape through a land use pattern that includes rocky areas on the tops of mountains, strips of woodland, slopes with hillside terraces of olive trees, terraces where crops were intensively grown near dwellings, extensive grazing land, fields for reaping, vineyards or different non-irrigated fruit crops on flatter land. The estate houses are made up of a series of buildings surrounding a central courtyard. Round it are rooms for processing and storing the produce and dwellings. Towns and villages are based on a medieval urban design of irregular little streets with steps and cul-de-sacs, marked by the complex water supply systems that led to their original creation. Irrigation ditches, public washing places, orchards, mills and well-type water tanks can be seen amid stone houses piled up on the slopes, forming a fascinating urban ensemble that blends perfectly with the natural surroundings.  The Tramuntana area is thus an interesting testimonial of the conservation and evolution of settlements and urban structures in a rugged area of the island characterized by steep slopes.


The property is characterised by a high level of uniformity, in which the defining elements are the terraced land arrangements, the olive groves, the spatial organisation in rural estates and the water supply network. The property is exemplary of the historical processes that have taken place in the Tramuntana area and have shaped its actual aspect. The nominated property has received formal protection since 1973 as a "picturesque landscape of the Island of Mallorca" and this has contributed to preserve its values and physical features. The legal and planning instruments in place recognise the value of the cultural landscape of Serra de Tramuntana and contribute to its preservation.


The property is the authentic product of the continuous human presence that different cultures have imprinted on the natural environment, gradually shaping the landscape by erecting the dry-stone walls, clearing the plots of stones, creating the water supply network and thus transforming it into a productive area. The physical aspect of the property bears witness to a socio-economic process that has survived until the present day. Additionally, a wealth of scientific research and publications support the material evidence. The tangible dimension is enriched by intangible expressions that sustain and enrich the significance of the property: technical skills are still alive and contribute to maintaining the main features of this manmade landscape, many festivals and local traditions survive, as well as the rich toponymy. The presence and work of artists and writers amplify the evocative and associative value of the property. The materials and techniques used to repair and restore the traditional structures are the same as in the past, and this ensures the retention of traditional skills. These have been consciously maintained through the establishment of a school for dry-stone wallers, to counter the changes brought by social and economic evolution.

Protection and management requirements

The entire property is included in the Picturesque Site that has been under formal legal protection via a decree since 1972 (Decree 984/1972). Following the approval of the Spanish Historic Heritage Act (1985) and of the Balearic Historic Heritage Act (1998), the site has been declared an Item of Cultural Interest as an historic site. The Balearic Act (1991) governing natural spaces and urban planning regulations provides for the identification of areas to be protected for their ecological, geological and landscape values. The pivotal instrument for spatial planning is the Mallorca Spatial Plan (2004). This plan provides for regulations concerning the human settlement, land-use on the basis of features, values and vocations of different areas, activities and protection of the environment. The Plan acknowledges the cultural and natural values of the Tramuntana Area. Other existing plans related to specific areas are: the Plan for the Regulation of the Tramuntana Area's Natural Resources (2007) and the Special Plans for: the Protection of the Historic Site of Archduke Ludwig Salvator's Estate (2002), for the Dry-Stone Route (2008), for the Protection of Artà-Lluc Route (2008), for the Historic Artistic Architectural, Ecological and Scenic Value of the Municipality of Deià, for the protection of the Village of Lluc, for the protection of the Village of Escorca and of the Historic Centre of Pollença. The Consortium 'Serra de Tramuntana Paisatge Cultural' is the body in charge for the management of the site. It is composed of the regional government of the Balearic Islands and the Council of Mallorca, and aims at coordinating all the different cultural and natural policies, which are being implemented in the Serra de Tramuntana. It also includes a body for the involvement of local stakeholders.


4. Recommends the State Party to:

a) Continue with the implementation of the approved management plan for the property,

b) Continue with the implementation of plans and programmes, as well as inventories related to the management and conservation of the waterwork networks, dry stone terraces and the rest of the heritage elements that feature the cultural landscape,

c) Keep on with the scientific research programmes on the features of the agrarian landscape in terms of the grain and pattern of the landscape mosaic.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Spain
Year: 2011
Decision Code: 35 COM 8B.34