All success is backed by a reason. We should therefore ask ourselves why the Balearic Islands have been upheld as a privileged place since the 19th century. What was it that made them not only a tourist hotspot but also a powerful source of creativity, art, music and a place to communicate with the world and its landscape.
The explanation lies in three words: Variety, sincerity, intensity.
The Balearic Islands constitute the furthest Mediterranean archipelago from the mainland. They are a world unto themselves. But their geographical uniqueness does not standardise them, just the contrary. Even though they are in the same territory and linked by proximity, each island has its own character. Together they form a kind of large house, in which every island represents a room - a lounge, a balcony.
Variety means that Mallorca is both mountainous and flat. That it contains the rainiest and driest places. A land of torrents, fertile plains and majestic towns. Mallorca represents something like a miniature-sized continent.
Menorca, however, is a variation of few elements. Gentle hills, green expanses, the dramatic, cliff-lined coast and beaches at the end of the gullies. Its towns and villages have a special singularity and are a world apart from Mallorcan towns. They are white, much more open and in harmony with the landscape.
Not at all like Ibiza, which is full of valleys and mountains. This island is characterised by a mixture of greens and blues. The Greeks called the island “Pitiusa” pine: a land rich in pines. The sea, the stretches of sand, the small islands. Eivissa means "Vila", the only significant town. Surrounded by spectacular walls, abound with hidden nooks and recalling the alternative years, it is cosmopolitan and scented with the aroma of patchouli.
Opposite, Formentera is essentiality. Pure landscape. As the Ibizan poet Marià Villagómez wrote, a sea of brilliant turquoise tones, calm weather and never-ending sunsets. Formentera is solitude, stone, isolated houses, stone walls and huge fig trees.
This variety would probably be anecdotal if it were not accompanied by a second category:
sincerity. All travellers have always praised the way of life in these islands, their particular way of perceiving time and human relationships. And this authentic component, which has been preserved despite busy tourist activity, is conferred to everything. To the language, the protocols of social relationships, to place names, diminutives and even to gastronomy. How can you define that deep, real, unfussy flavour of the ensaimada (typical pastry), the sobrassada and the confectionary unique to each island? Sincerity understood as the living taste of existence. The easygoing and direct relationship with people and the land. That is why so many visitors have stayed on the islands forever. Because on the islands, you live by your heart.
And that brings us on to the third essential feature. Intensity. From the brilliance of the colours to the fluency of the natural elements, everything is upped in scale. It is pictorial, sculptural, literary. It does not accept grey tones. One may prefer the romantic cliffs of the Tramuntana mountain range of Mallorca, whilst others opt for the coves of Menorca’s Migjorn; some will lean towards the Sant Joan festivities in Ciudatella, the night-life in Ibiza and others who choose a stroll with the wind brushing their face, listening to the sea washing pebbles, along the Cap de Barbaria in Formentera, a setting made famous by the film “Lucía y el sexo” (Sex and Lucía).
What links such diverse things? An almost musical intensity, which declares that every minute that passes in the Islands has a meaning, flowing like the drops that fall from the roof in the huge caves. And slowly but conscientiously, they end up building the stalactite of happiness.
The Balearics, within their geographical boundaries, are immense, never-ending. And not because of their real size but the depth of worlds, the moving experience they offer and the rare balance they hold between inner and outer life.
Which is why they have been world-famous for two hundred years.