Calvari Steps – Pollensa

The Calvari Steps are a striking landmark in the town of Pollensa (Pollença) in northern Majorca. This monumental stairway consists of 365 stone steps that lead up to a tiny chapel and viewpoint high above the town.

Tracing a winding route up the hillside, the steps are lined with cypress trees and stone crosses representing Jesus’ journey to crucifixion.

For visitors to Pollensa, climbing the Calvari Steps is an unmissable experience that combines sightseeing, history, stunning views and even some light exercise!

Historical Background

The precise origins of the Calvari Steps are unknown, but they are inextricably linked to the history of Christianity in Pollensa. A tiny chapel dedicated to Calvary has stood at the top of the hill since the 13th century when Pollensa was under the control of the Knights Templar. The steep stone staircase leading up to the chapel was constructed in phases during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Calvari Steps hold deep religious significance for the local community. The 14 stone crosses lining the route commemorate the Stations of the Cross, representing the suffering of Jesus on his way to crucifixion. During Holy Week each year, solemn torchlit processions depicting the Easter story take place on the steps.

Beyond religion, the steps also reflect the local heritage and identity of Pollensa. Climbing to the top is seen as a symbolic pilgrimage honouring the town’s past. The addition of a step for each day of the year gives the stairs further meaning for both locals and visitors.

Architecture and Design

Winding gently up the pine-clad hillside, the design and alignment of the steps blend seamlessly into the natural landscape. The stone used for the steps themselves is smooth and worn, contrasting with the stark angular crosses that punctuate the climb.

The Calvari Chapel at the summit is built in a simple Baroque style, with a small bell tower and whitewashed walls that glow in the Mediterranean sun. Inside, the chapel contains a carved figure of Christ on the crucifix, which is paraded through the town during Holy Week.

The most striking architectural feature is the staircase itself. Ascending almost 100 meters from bottom to top, the contouring alignment of the steps is a technical feat of design. Their irregular width and height add character and authenticity, embedding them in local tradition.

Exhibits or Collections

As a landmark, the Calvari Steps themselves form the attraction, rather than housing any exhibits or collections as such. However, located at the top inside the tiny Calvari Chapel is an intricate woodcarving of Christ crucified, which holds great religious significance.

This wooden figure was created in the 14th century and is paraded annually through Pollensa during the dramatic Easter processions. Visitors can view the carving when entering the chapel.

While not a museum as such, ascending the steps almost feels like walking through an exhibit chronicling the 14 Stations of the Cross. The striking stone crosses along the way commemorate each stage on Christ’s journey to the crucifixion.

Visitor Experience

Climbing the 365 steps to the top of Calvari hill is an unforgettable experience combining sightseeing, culture, history and a touch of adventure! Setting out from the bottom it initially seems an easy stroll, but the climb soon intensifies with the steps becoming steeper and narrower.

The sense of achievement upon reaching the top viewpoint is immense, as the stunning panoramas across Pollensa and beyond open up.

The physical ascent usually takes around 15 minutes for the average visitor, depending on fitness levels. There are a few spots to pause for rest and photos along the way. Be prepared for the climb down to be tougher on the knees!

Accessibility and Practical Information

The Calvari Steps are located right in the heart of Pollensa, so they can be easily reached on foot from anywhere in town. Ascending the steps is free of charge and open to the public at any time of day or night. The route is lit up until late evening, creating atmospheric views after dark.

Be aware the steps themselves are uneven, narrow in places and have no handrails, so wear sturdy shoes for the climb. Visitors should also consider their own fitness and ability levels. As an alternative, it is possible drive or taxi to the chapel and viewpoint at the top, with free adjacent parking.

There are no visitor facilities, cafes or shops along the actual staircase, but the charming main square of Pollensa at the bottom offers a wide choice. Here you’ll also find tourist information, museums and transport links.

Local Surroundings and Attractions

The Calvari Steps occupy an easily accessible spot right in the heart of Pollensa old town. After descending from the viewpoint, spend time wandering the picturesque squares and lanes nearby. Traditional bakeries, family-run cafes and high-end boutiques line the narrow streets.

Culture vultures should visit the fascinating Museum of Pollensa, housed in an impressive 18th century mansion. Exhibiting local archaeology and art, including stunning Orthodox icons, this small museum provides great insight into the area.

Foodies will adore the weekly authentic food market each Sunday, bursting with local produce and artisan treats.

Beyond the town itself, the Pollensa area offers fantastic beaches, sleepy villages and legendary hiking trails across the Tramuntana mountains. Scenic walking routes lead directly from town into the foothills and forests.

Personal Reflection

Calvari Steps Top

Hiking up the ancient Calvari Steps utterly absorbed me into the local history and culture of Pollensa. As both a physical and metaphorical journey, climbing the steps creates a deep human connection to the town itself. I felt transported back centuries, picturing religious processions winding slowly up past those same stone crosses.

Reaching the summit filled me with immense satisfaction and the far-reaching views are utterly unforgettable. As part of a wider trip across Mallorca, my visit to Pollensa – and especially the iconic steps – ranks among the highlights. I would urge everyone to ascent and experience this emblematic slice of local heritage.

What Visitors Think

Based on the reviews, people generally have a very positive view of the Calvari Steps.

The Ascent

  • Most describe the climb as challenging but manageable. The steps are low and wide but get steeper towards the top.
  • Reviews mention taking 10-15 minutes to climb up. Several suggest going early/late to avoid heat.
  • Many highlight places along the route to pause for rest if needed.

Views from the Top

  • Almost all reviewers felt the views were stunning, beautiful, and worth the climb.
  • They highlight seeing amazing panoramas of Pollensa town, the surrounding countryside and some towards the sea. Clear days offer views of Menorca.
  • Many describe the views at sunset/moonrise as particularly special.

The Chapel

  • The small chapel at the summit draws praise for its simple beauty, whitewashed walls and tranquillity.
  • Some mention lighting candles inside and feeling the history and faith.
  • The intricate crucifix carving from the 14th century and the parade during Holy Week are also highlighted.

Overall Experience

  • Most describe it as an unforgettable, rewarding experience to climb the steps despite being demanding.
  • Many highlight the cultural and historical significance of the landmark.
  • Several recommend stopping for refreshments at the café at the top, with friendly owners.

Overall the Calvari Steps come very highly recommended by visitors seeking culture, views, exercise and a memorable experience while in Pollensa.

Conclusion

Being part of the UNESCO-listed Tramuntana mountain range, the town of Pollensa holds great allure for visitors, from its laidback squares bursting with lemon trees to the lively cultural festivals.

However, it is the monumental staircase of Calvari Steps winding skywards that form the true iconic heart.

Climbing to the tiny hilltop chapel not only earns magnificent panoramas but also provides a profound link to the town’s past. The 365 weathered steps carry walkers on a crossing between culture, faith, history and landscape.

For any tourist to Pollensa, ascending the Calvari Steps promises an unmissable and memorable experience, with picture-perfect views as your reward.

Location

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