Some cities in the world, such as Lisbon, San Francisco or Melbourne, are famous for their historic tramways still in circulation. The one in Sóller has a peculiarity that makes it special compared to other urban streetcars: it joins the mountain and sea in a half hour trip, from the valley in the heart of the Serra with the port and the beach.
Inaugurated in 1913, the tramway of Sóller is not only a tourist attraction, but also a means of public transport used for more than a century by the inhabitants of the small town to travel to its port and beaches and backwards.
The tramway, besides transporting passengers, has also been used to transport boxes of fish from the docks to the market or oranges to the ships that sailed to the French ports in the past, to carry vegetables from the orchards to the town and even to carry coal and war materials to the naval base of the Navy located in the Port of Sóller.
In the Plaza de España, in front of the entrance to the historic building of the Sóller train station, under the shade of a leafy plane tree, is the first stop where you can take the tramway to the beach and the port.
The fact that you can purchase tickets on board (or have purchased the combined train-tramway ticket) and the extensive schedule of routes allows you to stroll, shop or sit on a terrace before your short trip.
In the same square you will find the Sóller Tourist Office located in an old train carriage fitted out for this purpose.
You can also start the journey from the stop located on Avenida Cristòfol Colom, which connects the main square with the Municipal Market.
Riding the streetcar in front of the station gives you the opportunity to cross the center of Sóller through its streets and squares.
The streetcar leaves the Plaza de España to go down the tree-lined promenade of Es Born, with the monumental parish church on the right and the terraces of cafés and bars on the left.
From Es Born the convoy enters the Plaza Constitución, the nerve center of the town, always busy and bustling, especially on market Saturdays. To your left you have the town hall and to your right you can see the architectural ensemble of modernist style formed by the facades of the church of Sant Bartolomé and the Bank of Sóller.
In the months of good weather, the tramway is equipped with wagons called jardinieres. These are open at the sides, which makes it possible to enjoy the atmosphere and the scenery.
Leaving behind the main square and the municipal market, the tramway enters a less urban and more rural territory, composed of the back gardens of the houses and the orange and lemon orchards. Soon, on the right, you will also see the Torrent Major, crossed by the tramway on a small steel bridge.
In that area, called Es Camp de S'Oca, the sollerics achieved a historic feat, still remembered and celebrated festively every year. In May 1561 a battle took place there where the inhabitants of the valley managed to repel and defeat a much larger horde of Barbary pirates who were trying to sack the city.
As the tramway is also used by local residents, there are two more stops in the L'Horta neighborhood. The driver only slows down the train if the passenger warns him by ringing the bell placed for this purpose, pulling a strap that hangs from the roof of the wagon. One more peculiarity of this unique transport.
Leaving l'Horta, the rails cross the road that connects Sóller with its Port at the height of the Monument to the Heroes of May 11, 1561. Already in open country, the view can enjoy the mountainous landscape of the surroundings or the closer one of the orange and lemon groves.
The streetcar continues its way to the sea between the road and the Torrent Major riverbed, with the occasional stop to let a passenger on or off.
At the height of Sa Roca Rotja there is a track split where it may be necessary to wait a few moments to let the twin convoy pass on its way back to Sóller.
The sea breeze announces the proximity of the sea. One more stop at Sa Torre square, called like this because it is located at the foot of an old defense tower, so that travelers heading to the area of Playa d'en Repic can get off the tramway.
From there, the tramway glides along the pedestrian promenade of Es Través with the unbeatable panoramic view of the bay on the left. The Mediterranean in all its splendor: the beach, the boats resting in the center of the bay and the horizon line framed between two points crowned by the lighthouses of Es Cap Gros and Sa Creu.
You are arriving at your destination. The streetcar ends its route at the old streetcar station that goes down from Sóller to the port, reconverted since May 5, 1929 into the restaurant and hotel Mar y Sol. From the beginning it has been managed by the Sastre family, since 1979 by Vicente Sastre.
Only during the Civil War the building was expropriated and served as accommodation for the officers of the Italian submarines that were moored at the base. In the sixties the 5-room hotel was closed and since then it only functions as a bar and restaurant for hikers who come to Port de Sóller or who make the famous "Vuelta isla", which combines with the boat to Sa Calobra the trip from Palma by train and tramway.
You have all the time in the world to stroll along its piers, take a dip in the beach, go shopping, enjoy the magnificent views over the sea from its viewpoints or eat in one of the many restaurants.
Or, if you feel like going further with your excursion, embark on a sea trip to the coastal destinations of Sa Foradada, Tuent, Sa Calobra and Torrent de Pareis.
On October 4, 1913 the first electric tramway line in Mallorca was inaugurated, between Sóller and Port de Sóller.
The project of this line was designed and directed by Mr. Pedro Garau, and 4,868 meters of track were laid. The iron bridge over the "Torrent Major", which was built by the Maquinista Terrestre y Marítima, stands out as a work of art.
The tramway initially had its own power station located in the Sóller station itself. This power station was powered by a 65-horsepower explosion engine that drove a Siemens-Schuckert dynamo, giving a direct current of 600 volts.
Although the Sóller tramway was designed for passenger transport, it was also used for freight traffic to the port. In a small isothermal wagon fresh fish was transported from the Port to Sóller and in trailers coal was taken to the old military submarine base at Port de Sóller, to the "el Gas" factory; as well as mines and torpedoes transported from the Caubet powder magazine..
The three streetcar cars numbered 1 to 3 and their trailers 5 and 6 are the originals of 1913 that were ordered from the Zaragoza firm of Carde & Escoriaza. The planters were acquired from the Palma tramways in 1954.
In addition, the Sóller Tramway has five streetcar cars from Lisbon, numbered from 20 to 24, adapted to the 914mm gauge.