Situated in a valley, Soller is sheltered by the Serra de Alfabia mountain massif and overshadowed by the lofty Puig Major (1,445 m/4,740 ft). Its name reputedly derives from the Arabic word suliar, meaning “golden bowl” – the valley is famous for its many orange groves.
Arabs, who settled here in the late 8th century, built canals and irrigation ditches and the town grew rich thanks to its plentiful supply of oranges and the vineyards and olive groves, planted on the slopes of the Serra de Tramuntana. In exchange for its oranges and wine, it imported goods from France and links between the town and France remain strong.
Placa Constitucio is a lively square and the centre of Soller. Mature trees, fountains and lively cafe give the place its unique atmosphere. Notable buildings include the Modernista castle-like Banco de Soller, which is the work of Joan Rubioi Bellver, a disciple of Antoni Gaudo and the Neo-Gothic church of Sant Bartomeu, also designed by Rubio.
Particularly eye-catching is the vast rosette window on the church facade, carved in stone, and the Baroque sculptures contrasting with the dark interior. To the north of the square stands Museu Casa de Cultura, occupying a renovated building in Calle Sa Mar. Here, you can recapture the atmosphere of old Soller as you stroll through rooms decorated with antique furnishings, a courtyard and an old kitchen with amusing majolica plates.
Museu Balear de Ciencies Naturals (Balearic Museum of Natural Science), on the outskirts of Soller, was opened in 1992 in a late 19th-century mansion house. Its exhibits include a collection of Mallorcan fossils and rocks and specimens of the local flora. The adjacent Jardo Botanic contains plants native to the Balearic Islands.
The town’s vintage electric train, nicknamed the “Red Arrow”, which runs between Palma and Soller, provides a superb ride through the mountains. From the Soller terminus you can hop aboard a vintage tram, which takes you on to Port de Soller.
Port de Soller, situated 5 km (3 miles) from Soller, is a pleasant although crowded resort with numerous seafood restaurants next to the harbour and by the beach. Here, you can enjoy a boat trip along the coast, or go for a hike to the nearby lighthouse.