Es Firó of Sóller

The most popular festival of Sóller

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The history of Soller's firó festival

The history of <em>Es Firó</em> of Sóller: one of the most popular festivals of Mallorca.

Every year in Sóller, one of the best known popular festivals in the municipality and Mallorca is celebrated on the second Monday in May: Es Firó. Commemorates the landing of Turkish and Algerian corsairs in the port of Sóller on May 11, 1561.

How did it be the attack? Keep reading to learn more.

The warning:

In early May 1561 the Viceroy of Majorca, Guillem de Rocafull, sent two corsair frigates to North Africa. Their objective: to attack the coasts of Algiers, considered a nest of pirates that frightened the entire Mediterranean. The viceroy’s frigates captured eight Turks, who after being tortured said that a Turkish and Algerian squad would shortly attack the coasts of the western Mediterranean and one of the targets was a village on the Majorcan coast. But they did not say which one … Days later, on May 10, news came that a fleet of 23 Turkish ships had arrived in Eivissa for water supplies. The viceroy knew immediately that his next destination would be Mallorca, but the objective was not yet clear, so he gave notice to all the captains of each town to organize for the defence.
Vista aérea del puerto de Soller en el Firó
Puerto de Sóller

The landing

On Sunday, May 11, 1561 the Turkish fleet arrived in Ses Puntes: they were between 1700 and 1800 Turks and Algerians. It is believed that they were led by a former escaped slave who knew the area very well. The pirates landed shortly before 4 a.m. Immediately, the Coll de s’Illa guards realized their presence, they ran towards the village, blowing the horn to warn the entire population. The Muslims all went up together to the Coll de s’Illa and from there they continued towards the Sa Figuera farm, Son Llempaies and Coll de’n Borrassà, until they reached Son n’Avinyona where they split into two groups. The largest went to s’Horta to cross the Pont de’n Barona and enter the village on Carrer Nou. The other group entered through Ses Argiles, Carrer de la Victòria and Carrer Lluna. In this way, the sollerics were found at dawn between two fires…. Very cunning corsairs.
Es Firó of Sóller
Es Firó of Sóller

The defense

The Muslims, who believed that they had the surprise factor on their part, were overconfident … they didn’t know that the viceroy already knew his presence and that he had put the entire defensive system into action: he sent to Sóller the captain to gather all the men capable of holding a weapon and fighting and asked for help from the municipalities of Bunyola and Alaró. In total, between 450 and 500 men from Sóller and Fornalutx were gathered under the command of Captain Joan Angelats and 111 men from Bunyola and Alaró under the command of Captains Ignasi Garcia and Pere de Sant Joan respectively. At 5 in the morning, an hour after the landing, the notice came to Sóller of the landing of the pirates, just as Captain Angelats had just gathered his men and was placing them in Camp de s’Oca (the faster port access). At the same time, the Joan Angelats gave the order to ring the bells and for the women, the elderly and children to leave the village and take refuge in the mountains. With them, he sent Chaplain Antoni Canals to assist in the eviction.
450 and 500 men from Sóller and Fornalutx under the orders of Captain Joan Angelats to defend the town of Sóller.
450 and 500 men from Sóller and Fornalutx

The battle at the bridge: Pont de'n Barona

A short time later, the largest group of corsairs arrived at Puente de’n Barona, and from the bridge, they discovered the Christian camp. At that time there was much confusion, as they didn’t expect this Christian surprise. They didn’t know how many or how defensive they were, so they decided to start shooting from the bridge to see how the Christians reacted. At that time news came from Sóller: another group of corsairs has entered from another side and they are looting the village. Now it is the Christians who are confused and surprised. They have to make a quick decision. Sergeant Antoni Soler, a veteran of the armies of Felipe II, commented that the best option was to fight the group on the bridge and then return to Sóller to defend it. And they do it like that. Emboldened the sollerics, they attacked with all they had the Turks and Algerians. Seeing the fierce attack, the Muslims flee to the port and in Son Avinyona the Christians manage to kill the rais (captain) of the invaders: Yusuf, son of Ulutx Ali, commander of the fleet. Towards the port, the invaders found another surprise: bandolers (bandits) with hunting dogs that face them, attack and disperse them.
Citizen of Sóller disguised as a Muslim pirate at the battle of the "pont de'n Barona".
Citizen of Sóller disguised as a Muslim pirate

The battle in Son Avinyona

Once the invaders have fled, Captain Angelats decides to wait with the group in Son Avinyona since he believes that the group that is looting Sóller will return to the port there. And he was not mistaken. After a while, the corsairs loaded with the loot appeared: clothes, money, jewellery…. And prisoners. Thus begins another battle in Son Avinyona where the Turks were frightened by the fierce Christian attack and flee, abandoning all the loot and weapons. The surviving Muslims left the port of Sóller shortly afternoon.
Aerial view of the battle of Son Avinyona during the firó of Sóller
The battle of Son Avinyona during the firó of Sóller

The ending

It seems that 211 dead Turks were counted, including the three rais and 6 sollerics, not counting a large number of wounded on both sides, some of whom possibly died due to injuries. Much of the loot was recovered. At the end of the day, all the recovered objects were placed in the village main square and returned to their owners under oath. Besides, it is worth noting another fact that today is also represented in the celebration of Es Firó: Les Valentes Dones, when the two women of Can Tamany, Francisca and Catalina Casesnoves, killed two Muslims who were trying to attack them with the bar with which they closed the door.
The final climax of the Sóller firó in the town square
The Sóller firó in the town square

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