Sights in Palma

La Seu Cathedral, Palma de Mallorca

Cathedral Palma Mallorca Hotel Feliz

The stand-out landmark building of Palma – a magnificent Gothic cathedral whose sandstone walls seem to rise out of the sea.

Tradition has it that a storm arose as Jaume I was sailing towards Mallorca. He vowed that if he landed safely he would build a great church in honour of the Virgin on New Year’s Day 1230, a day after the fall of Palma, the foundation stone was symbolically laid on the site of the city’s main mosque. Work continued for 400 years – and had to resume in 1851 when an earthquake destroyed the west front. More touches were added this century by the Catalan architeat, Antoni Gaudi.

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Palace de l'Almudaina

Palace de l'Almudaina

A royal palace has stood on this site next to Palma’s cathedral since the Muslim walis (governors) built their alcazar soon after the Arab conquest.

It was converted into Gothic style under Jaume II, but elements of Islamic architecture remain – like the Moorish arches seen from the seafront, lit up at night like a row of lanterns. Inside you’ll find tapestries, paintings and furniture from different time periods throughout its history.

The courtyard, laid out in 1309 and flanked by palm trees, is at its best in late afternoon when the sun falls on the cathedral towers overhead. Just off the courtyard is the royal chapel, Capella de Santa Ana.

The S’Hort del Rei gardens beneath the palace make a pleasant place to sit beneath the fountains watching the world go by. Look out for the Arc de la Drassana, once the gateway to the royal docks; near here is a statue of a hondero or Balearic slinger. The gardens were rebuilt in the 1960s, forcing the demolition of several houses; their best known landmark is Joan Miro’s Egg sculpture, which few people can resist sticking their heads through.

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Banys Arabs (Arab Baths)

Banys Arabs (Arab Baths)

These 10th century baths are virtually all that remain of the Arab city of Medina Mayurqa (now known as Palma).
They were probably part of a nobleman’s house and are similar to those found in other Islamic cities. The tepidarium has a dome in the shape of a half orange, with 25 round shafts for sun light, supported by a dozen columns.

Notice how each of the columns is different – they were probably salvaged from the ruins of various Roman buildings, an early example of recycling. Hammams were meeting-places as well as wash-houses, and the courtyard with its cactus, palm and orange trees would have made a pleasant place to cool off after a hot bath.

Open: 9.30AM – 6.00PM all year round. There is a small entry fee.

Basilica de Sant Francesc

Basilica de Sant Francesc

The painter and sculptor Joan Miro spent most of his life in Barcelona, but both his wife and mother were Mallorcan and he always longed to return to the scene of his childhood holidays to draw inspiraton from what he called ”the light of Mallorca”.
In 1956, aged 63, he bought a house and studio in Cala Major. He lived here until he died in 1983 after which the house was enlarged to hold a permanent exhibition of his works.

The collection includes more than 100 paintings, 25 sculptures and 3,000 studio pieces, but only a small amount is displayed at any time. The paintings are almost childish, all vivid splashes of bright primary colours, influenced by his love of peasant traditions and his fascination with siurells (clay whistles).

Castell de Bellver

Castell de Bellver

A well-preserved 14th-century royal fortress with fragrant pine woods, an interesting museum and superb views over Palma Bay.
Looking up at this castle, so perfectly maintained, it is hard to believe that it has been standing for almost 700 years. Begun by Jaume II in 1300 and built by Pere Salva, the architect of the Almudaina Palace, it is unique among Spanish castles in being entirely round.

Three large towers surround a central courtyard, connected by an arch to a free standing keep. The courtyard itself is on two levels, the ground floor with semicircular arches and a flat roof, the upper level with Gothic arches and rib-vaulting. For the full effect, walk around the moat then climb onto the roof and look down into the courtyard to compare the contrasting styles. While you are there, look out over the city and the bay for one of the best views in Palma. Bellver means ‘lovely view’ in Catalan.

For many centuries the castle was used as a prison; Jaume III’s widow and sons were imprisoned here for most of their lives. These days it contains Palma’s museum of municipal history, which traces the development of the city through its artefacts, with pottery from Talaiotic, Roman, Arab and Spanish periods.

Castell Bellver is only a short walk from Hotel Feliz. Follow the sign at Placa Gomila and climb up through the pine woods above Carrer de Bellver, passing a chapel on the way. It’s open every day.

Mallorca Free Tour

Mallorca Free Tour

One of the best ways to learn about the historic Palma is to join a guided city walk. Mallorca Free Tour offer a tour in three languages: Spanish, English and German, it takes around 2 hours and starts at 11:00 in front of the tourism office just below the Cathedral. You will walk around the city centre and enjoy the most important attractions and buildings in Palma

Catedral
Palacio de la Almudaina
Ayuntamiento
Paseo del Born
Castell de Bellver
La Lonja
Consulado del Mar
Baños árabes
Palau March
Plaza Mayor
Iglesias (San Miguel, San Francesc, etc…) Famosos patios
Mercado del Olivar
Calle San Miguel y Plaza España, where the tour will end.

Read more about Mallorca Free Tour here

Fundacio Pilar i Joan Miro

Fundacio Pilar i Joan Miro

The painter and sculptor Joan Miro spent most of his life in Barcelona, but both his wife and mother were Mallorcan and he always longed to return to the scene of his childhood holidays to draw inspiraton from what he called ”the light of Mallorca”.
In 1956, aged 63, he bought a house and studio in Cala Major. He lived here until he died in 1983 after which the house was enlarged to hold a permanent exhibition of his works.

The collection includes more than 100 paintings, 25 sculptures and 3,000 studio pieces, but only a small amount is displayed at any time. The paintings are almost childish, all vivid splashes of bright primary colours, influenced by his love of peasant traditions and his fascination with siurells (clay whistles).

Anyone tempted to remark that their child could do better should take a look at the heavily realistic work that Miro was producing aged eight – the fantasy came later. Works on display include the draft for UNESCO’s Mural del Sol in Paris. Glance into Miro’s studio, left untouched since his death, with work in progress, open tins of paint and black stains all over the floor.

The gallery is closed on Mondays.

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