Leave all notions of tranquility behind and take part in one of the largest festivals in Mallorca set to the backdrop of historical warfare. Every year Fira i Firó in Sóller reenacts the epic battle of 1561 between the Moors of Algeria and the Christians of Mallorca on one Monday in the middle of May.
Replicas of North African boats land upon the shores of Port de Sóller loaded with locals dressed as fighting Muslims ready to take back the land that was once theirs; alas, the Christians were prepared, and by the time the smoke clears in La Plaza de la Constitución, the Christians, led by their courageous women, have repelled the invasion.
While large crowds, fireworks and plenty of festiveness surround the historic battle, the first two weeks of May leading up to the reenactment also provide a wealth of opportunity to envision the past. Fira translates to Fair and is technically observed on the day before Firó – the battle. But all told, Fira i Firó is a two-week long celebration of the history of Sóller.
History of Fira i Firó
After the initial settlers, the Romans, and the Phoenicians had their time on the island (3500 BC – 800 AD), the Muslims of Northern Africa had their turn, ruling Mallorca and much of the Iberian Peninsula in the late 10th Century. Christian Europeans refer to these peoples as the Moors. Due to the Moors’ lengthy stay in the region, their cultural influence is found all over Spain and even in the language: 8% of Spanish is, indeed, of Arabic origin.
The Moors were in Mallorca for over three hundred years until King Jaume I of Aragon (a region of Eastern Spain) overthrew the island in 1229 and began Christian rule.
The Moors, however, did not give up on the Balearic Islands. For the next 600 years from the northern shores of Africa the Moors waged numerous attacks upon the archipelago. One such attack was in the spring of 1561 upon the shores and town of Sóller. The Viceroy of Mallorca, however, received tips from Mallorcan prisoners in Algiers that an attack upon the shores of Sóller was imminent. The town prepared by manning its watchtowers and gathering food and artillery.
The Moors floated into Port de Sóller on wooden boats at 3am on May 11th, 1561. There the battle began, and here is where the battles of Firó begin. If you happen to be dressed as a straw-hat wearing Christian, beware! The Moors of the reenactment may well pierce it from your head, as, true to history, the Moors win the first encounter at Port de Sóller and push into town.
From Port de Sóller you will be able to follow the party and history to the roundabout at Monument Restaurant. Here the second battle is fought and highlights the historical gallantry of Sóller’s women. Documented stories describe how brave women struck down invaders with the crossbar of a door and by catapulting heavy objects from windows and roofs. These women are justly celebrated throughout the fair.
The final battle of the reenactment takes place in the middle of Sóller in La Plaza de la Constitución. While fighting did in fact take place within the town of Sóller, it was not until the Moors were making their way back to their ships with their hostages and loot that the decisive battle – once again upon the shores of Port de Sóller – declared victory for the Sóllerics. All told, 27 men, 11 women, and 9 children were killed and hundreds of Sóllerics were wounded in the invasion.
A large stone tower – Torre Picada – was erected after the attack of 1561 and to this day can be seen high on the cliffsides overlooking the sea and Port de Sóller. Until 1830 this tower was manned to warn the island of invaders. Today, in the weeks leading up to Firó, both the Moorish and Christian flags are seen flying in Torre Picada.
In fact, starting in April, hundreds of Moorish flags (a red flag with a crescent moon in the middle) and Christian flags (a white flag with a red cross) are hung from windows and over streets as a nod to both ethnicities that made history in Sóller that day. By May the town is absolutely draped in the banderas.
What to Do at Fira i Firó—2023 Dates
Traditional outfits are sold in La Plaza de la Constitución every Saturday for several weeks leading up to the festivities. It’s a great way to be a part of the action – just be sure to know who you are fighting for!
Follow the Battle
On Monday the reenactors will chart a course from Sóller to Port de Sóller for the first battle. The battle then proceeds to outside Monument Restaurant and finally into the center of Sóller at La Plaza de la Constitución. Following the battle from spot to spot is definitely a great way to imbibe, but to be able to join the final battle in La Plaza de la Constitución, one must obtain a wristband from Sóller Town Hall.
Enjoy Some Music
Throughout the first two weeks of May there will be many opportunities to catch modern and traditional music. A few examples include a trio playing the music of Cuba and Ukraine in Les Escolàpies Chapel on May 5th and DJs playing the evening of May 6th at the Camp de Futbol in Port de Sóller. On May 12th xeremier (Mallorcan bagpipe) players will wander the streets of Sóller by day and live music and DJs will rule the night.
Carnival Rides and Livestock
For the kids (and brave adults) small carnival rides are stationed about town. Near Plaza America you can expect to find food stalls and even Mallorcan livestock!
Fira i Firó 2023
Getting to Sóller
Access to the Sóller Valley from the city of Palma is fast and abundant but be aware that this event is large. Plan accordingly as roads, parking and public transportation will be packed.
By car: Once you get on the Ma-11, Sóller is a straight shot from Palma and takes only 35 minutes to arrive. Port de Sóller is just another 5-10 minutes up the Ma-11. Parking is available for free along some roads and in paid lots but may be a struggle during this event.
By bus: The TIB bus 204 begins running at 6:00 am and leaves practically every half hour from Estación Intermodal de Palma to Sóller and returns from Sóller to Palma practically every half hour until 23:35. Bus tickets can be bought online or by simply scanning your bank or credit card on board. A one-way trip costs 2.70€. If you choose to pay cash directly to the driver, the one-way fee is 4.50€. The trip takes 50 minutes one-way.
Tren de Sóller: To get the full experience of this historical weekend, take the train! The roundtrip cost from Palma to Sóller is 25€. The train runs about 6 times a day from Palma to Sóller and back, from 10:10 am to 7:40 pm.
Tram de Sóller: While the train from Palma only takes you to the town of Sóller, the tram will get you from the town of Sóller to Port de Sóller. The short 15-minute tram ride from Sóller to Port de Sóller leaves every hour from 8am to 9pm at peak season and costs 8€ one way.
Tren de Sóller + Tram de Sóller: A combined train and tram ticket from Palma to Port de Sóller and back to Palma costs 32€. Only combined train and tram tickets can be bought online. All other purchases must be made at the stations.