End of XIX century. Francisco Vivó Pons buys the plot
It is believed that Mallaui’s forest and plot was purchased by an ancestor, Fransco Vivó Pons, at the end of the XIX century. Francisco Vivó Pons (the father of Alfonso Vivó Triay) split the large plot in two properties, and gave the East part to one to one of his sons, Antonio, and the other to his other son, Alfonso (his third son Roberto received another piece of land nearby). Mallaui didn’t exist at that time.
Portrait of Francisco Vivó Pons, ca. 1900, oil on canvas.
20’s. The house construction starts
Mallaui’s construction started ca. 1925, with the construction of the access road and the building foundations. Alfonso Vivó Triay decided to follow an almost strict symmetry in its architecture, both inside and outside. The style of the building is influenced by the the so-called neo-Paladian architecture. Several buildings in the island from the same period follow a similar style.
Mallaui owns its name to a town in Egypt, called Mallawi, where Alfonso Vivó Triay, the first owner of Mallaui (and its constructor) was born. Alfonso remained in Mallawi until he was 6 years old. He always showed full respect for the country where he was born, and spoke perfect arabic until his death.
Alfonso Vivó Triay, the designer and first owner of Mallaui
- The military accident
Mallaui was still not fully built when an accident occurred at the plot nearby. In 1929 a military exercise was being performed in the surrounding forest and a hand grenade exploded accidentally. The explosion caused serious injuries to several members of the military personnel. Mallaui was used as an emergency military hospital to attend the injured. Both Alfonso Vivó Triay and his wife (Francisca Squella Rossinyol) received the “Cruz del mérito militar”, a Spanish military award for his heroic behavior helping the personnel during the crisis.
“Cruz del mérito militar con distintivo blanco”, awarded by the king Alfonso XIII to Alfonso Vivó Triay for his heroic behaviour during the military accident of 1929.”Cruz del mérito militar con distintivo blanco”, awarded by the king Alfonso XIII to Francisca Squella Rossinyol for his heroic behaviour during the military accident of 1929
30’s. Mallaui construction finishes. Mallaui during the Spanish civil war
The construction of Mallaui was finished in 1930. Francisco Vivó Pons (the father of Alfonso Vivó Triay) had his own room at the house. Both the bed and the wardrobe are nowadays fully restored. You can still sleep there, at the room situated at the north-west wing.
The bed and wardrobe of Francisco Vivó Pons, fully restored. Mallaui, north-west wing
However, the history of the building just started. Political instability started during the 30’s in Spain, ending with the breakout of the Spanish civil war (1936-39). Menorca remained republican until February of 1939. During the war period, the owners were evicted, and Mallaui became a military post, where soldiers and their families lived. Military garrisons used Mallaui as their base, mainly for coast surveillance tasks. Once peace was restored in 1939, Mallaui was returned to its owners.
40’s-50’s. Mallauí changes its colour
Mallaui house witnessed no abrupt changes during the 40’s and the 50’s. The only interesting event was the fact that the house was repainted, changing its colour from English red to pale yellow (“albero”, in Spanish). The houses were known as “ses cases vermelles” (the red house), and the nickname is nowadays still alive in town (Ciutadella).
Mallauí during the 40’s. The colour of the house still had to change from English red to pale yellow
60’s-70’s. The tourist boom: Mallauí and its surroundings remain unchanged
Spain witnessed an economic boom (known as the Spanish miracle) during the 60’s and the 70’s. One of the features of this boom was the birth of the tourism industry in the country. The island was a perfect target for tourist developments. At Mallaui (and its surrounding areas), the possibility to develop large touristic resorts (including a new harbour at the beach, large hotels and touristic business) was real. Despite the interesting monetary offers, Mallaui’s owners declined to develop tourist resorts, keeping Mallaui and its forest intact. The family loved the place so no economical offer could convince them to destroy the beautiful peace and the nature surrounding it. The unspoilt beaches and forest preserved to this date, including for example Cala Turqueta, are some of the most remarkable in the Spanish coast line, as numerous tourist guides will attest.
80’s-90’s. Mallaui’s forest overwhelmed: the tourist pressure booms.
While Mallaui’s and its surroundings were kept untouched, other areas in Menorca witnessed touristic development. Son Xoriguer, Cala Blanca, Cala’n Blanes or Cala Morell are examples of these developments. Soon the area became protected by law, making it impossible to develop a tourist resort. At the same time, the amount of visitors (living in the already developed tourist resorts) wanting to visit Mallaui’s forest and the surrounding beaches (Cala Turqueta, Es Talaier or Son Saura) mounted. As the amount of visitors increased, so did the pressure on the area. Mallaui’s forest started to suffer the consequences, receiving up to ~1000 visitors a day. During the 90’s some surveillance was set up to control the amount of visitors and clean up the place regularly. The system lasted a few years.
00’s and 10’s. Parking areas for the beaches and the “camí de cavalls” become public.
During the 2000’s a solution to ease the pressure of tourism became effective when the so-called “camí de cavalls” became public, opening a corridor of public space between the different beaches of the South coast of Menorca. Mallaui remained intact. At the same time, a public parking space was set up next to the beaches of Cala Turqueta and Son Saura, serving the visitors that wanted to go to Cala Turqueta, Es Talayer and Son Saura. This action solved the issue of pressure of visitors, helping to obtain a regulated parking space and limit the number of people visiting the beaches.
During almost a century, Mallaui witnessed lots of changes in the island and its society. Nevertheless, as of today, Mallaui remains untouched, with its original environment intact. For the visitor that enjoys Mallaui, the spirit of the beginning of the XXth century can be experienced throughout.