Walking tour through Palma's enchanting old town

Walking tour through Palma's enchanting old town


Palma, the capital of the holiday island of Mallorca, is not a small, tranquil place. Palma is a veritable big city with well over 400.000 inhabitants, which is also visited by thousands of day visitors every day. The city is the hub of island tourism, not least because of its busy airport and the cruise and ferry terminals. On top of that, Palma is the episcopal see as well as the administrative and university center of the Balearic Islands.

Passeig des Born - one of the promenade in Palma

Passeig des Born - one of the promenade in Palma


In Palma, Moorish architectural styles mix with those of the Gothic and Renaissance periods. There are also a few notable buildings in the style of Spanish “Modernisme”. All of this is reason enough to stroll through Palma's old town on your own with your eyes wide open. We invite you to accompany us on our tour. And we promise you it's worth it.

La Seu Cathedral - rose window above the main portal

La Seu Cathedral - rose window above the main portal


Starting point Plaça Major - Palma's central square

We begin our tour at the rectangular Plaça Major, Palma's most important square in the center. On the more than one hectare area, surrounded by stately buildings, cafés and restaurants invite you to daydream. No matter what our plan for the day may be, we like to dawdle on Plaça Major.

The Plaça Major

The Plaça Major


We leave Palma's "parlor" through one of the three archways set into the front of the house and suddenly find ourselves in the Plaça del Marquès del Palmer. This Plaça is one of what feels like countless squares in the center of Palma. In addition to the many shops, we particularly appreciate the modernist monument "Can Forteza Rey". The architect of the eye-catching Art Nouveau building was influenced by the star architect Gaudí, who oversaw the renovation work on the La Seu Cathedral from 1904 onwards. We know Gaudí mainly because of the buildings he created in Barcelona, ​​above all the Sagrada Familia. The richly decorated Can Forteza Rey building is a rare eye-catcher in the architectural monotony of the surrounding buildings.

Modernisme House - Can Forteza Rey

Modernisme House - Can Forteza Rey


Plaça de Weyler and Plaça del Mercat

Two other adjoining squares are also worth a visit. Both are in the Barrio de Sant Nicolau. The first, the Plaça de Weyler, is difficult to identify as a square. It looks more like a street. We visit him because of an outstanding Art Nouveau building, the former Gran Hotel, completed in 1903. The building is currently used by the CaixaForum cultural center. The cultural foundation of the bank "La Caixa" regularly organizes exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events. The CaixaForum houses a permanent exhibition dedicated to a Catalan painter of post-impressionism and Art Nouveau: Hermenegildo Anglada Camarasa.

CaixaForum cultural center


CaixaForum cultural center


CaixaForum cultural center - facade details


CaixaForum cultural center - facade details 


The Plaça del Mercat, which adjoins the Plaça de Weyler, is worth a visit to us, mainly because of two buildings. We are particularly interested in the Art Nouveau buildings known as “Casas Casasayas”. The two identical four-storey buildings separated by Calle Can Santacilia were built between 1908 and 1911. According to the "Patrimonio Histórico Español" they are a protected cultural asset.

Casas Casasayas


Casas Casasayas


Casas Casasayas - Adjacent to the Supreme Court


Casas Casasayas - Adjacent to the Supreme Court 


The massive construction of the Supreme Court of the Balearic Islands is attached to one of the buildings. He is also an eye catcher.

Plaça de Cort - location of the historic town hall

We like to see this place too. In the past, Plaça de Cort was the "zero" kilometer of Mallorcan roads. It is comparable to the "Monolith Kilometro Zero Argentina' in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires and.

The Plaça is worth seeing because of the historic town hall and a huge olive tree.

The "old" town hall in baroque style was built between 1649 and 1680. After a major fire in 1894, changes were made to the building. The work didn't do any harm. The magnificent facade, the large balcony draped with flags and the window front catch the eye. As soon as you enter the interior of the building, the steep grand staircase catches your eye. The plenary hall and the mayor's office are also worth seeing.

Palma's historic town hall on Plaça de Cort

Palma's historic town hall on Plaça de Cort


The age of the olive tree in Plaça de Cort is estimated at 500 to 600 years. The "Olivo de Cort" originally grew in the Tramuntana mountains. In 1999 he was transplanted to Palma's old town. The mighty tree, weighing several tons, survived the move unscathed. It bears fruit every year and delights passers-by and guests of the surrounding cafes with its whimsical shape and shadow.

Plaça de Cort - Olive Tree


Plaça de Cort - Olive Tree


Plaça de Cort - Olive Tree


Plaça de Cort - Olive Tree 


Basilica de Sant Francesc - second largest church in the Balearic Islands

Our path continues to the Plaça de Santa Eulalia, and past the Esglesia de Santa Eulalia to the Basilica de Sant Francesc. The second largest church on the Balearic Islands was built in the Gothic style in the 13th and 14th centuries by order of the Franciscan order. A lightning strike destroyed the facade in 1580. The repairs took place 100 years later in the Baroque style. A huge rose window takes up a significant part of the sober facade. Inside, the basilica is magnificently designed.

Basilica de Sant Francesc

Basilica de Sant Francesc


A monastery and a cloister with a trapezoidal floor plan belonged to the church. The magnificent cloister with its 115 slender columns is considered one of the largest in Europe. The monument in front of the entrance of the basilica shows the Majorcan Franciscan monk Junipero Serra. Starting from mission stations, he founded famous Californian cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Cloister of the monastery of Sant Francesc

Cloister of the monastery of Sant Francesc


The Arab Baths - Palma’s Moorish Heritage

The Banys Àrabs remain hidden from most visitors to Palma. That's a shame: the Arab baths, built between the 10th and 12th centuries, are considered an important relic from the Moorish era. Only a small part of the originally extensive complex has been preserved. A video presentation informs visitors in several languages, including German, about the former design of the baths. A small garden in front of the rooms invites you to linger.

Banys Arabic


Banys Arabic


Gardens of the Banys Àrabs


Gardens of the Banys Àrabs 


Jardí del Bisbe

From the Arab Baths we walk a good 600 meters through mostly deserted streets and alleys of the old town to the La Seu Cathedral. On the way are the Jardí del Bisbe, the bishop's garden. To get into the gardens of the diocese of Mallorca, visitors pass through a magnificent portal. The path to the garden is lined with cypresses. There is an orchard to the left of the path, with a herb and flower garden next to it. The green area is closed on Sundays.

In the Jardí del BisbeIn the Jardí del Bisbe


Palmas Cathedral La Seu

The cathedral is one of the symbols of Palma. After more than 350 years of construction, the church was provisionally completed in 1587. Even after that, the work on the church did not rest. In Spain, the 110 meter long cathedral is considered one of the finest Gothic buildings. The 44 meter high nave, the two 30 meter high aisles, the magnificent furnishings and the light effects of the glass windows impress visitors at any time of the day.

La Seu Cathedral and Palacio Real
La Seu Cathedral - main nave
La Seu Cathedral - Capella del Corpus Christi
Stained glass windows of La Seu Cathedral

Royal Palace of Almudaina

Opposite the cathedral is another gem of Palma. It is the 20.000 square meter royal palace Palacio Real de La Almudaina. It is the seat of the military command; at the same time it serves as the residence of the Spanish king when he visits Mallorca. The building was originally a Moorish fortress.

Real Palace of La Almudaina
Real Palace of La Almudaina
Real Palace of La Almudaina
Real Palace of La Almudaina

If we stay at the cathedral and the Palacio Real, we look at the park below the cathedral with the artificial saltwater lake. It becomes Parc de la Mar called. The S'Hort del Rei garden, below the Palacio Real, is also fascinating. Both are public parks that couldn't be more different.

Fountain in the Parc de la Mar
Sea Park
Entrance to the S'Hort del Rei park
S'Hort del Rei park

Placa de la Reina

Between the Avenida d'Antoni Maura and the Passeig del Born, guarded by sphinxes, lies the Queen's Square. In the center of the roundabout is an eye-catching fountain. The Parliament of the Balearic Islands and the Cathedral are clearly visible from the square.

Placa de la Reina

La Llotja-Born - a trendy district as it is in the book

After looking at the S'Hort del Rei, we cross the Avenida d'Antoni Maura and walk a few steps through the Carrer de la Boteria to the Llotja. What is meant by this is the former trading exchange. Palma was an important trading center in the Mediterranean in the 15th century. The magnificent building of the Llotja was the meeting place for the merchants. The 46 meter long and 28 meter wide building consists exclusively of a huge, bright room. We think: Must see, if open!

Llotja dels Mercaders


Llotja dels Mercaders


The hall of the Llotja dels Mercaders


The hall of the Llotja dels Mercaders 


The trading exchange is located in the trendy district of La Llotja-Born. Many restaurants and bars have sprung up in the surrounding streets and alleys. We speak from experience: We enjoyed our evening breaks in the surrounding bars.

Placa Drassana

Placa Drassana


Our path ends at Plaça de la Porta de Santa Catalina

We leave Llotja, pass Plaça Drassana and continue towards Plaça de la Porta de Santa Catalina. Our destination is the Es Baluard Museum. It is one of the most famous and largest museums in Mallorca and a haven for modern and contemporary art. Over 500 works by local and international artists are exhibited. The museum is part of the former fortress of Bastió de Sant Pere.

Museu Es Baluard - entrance area
Museu Es Baluard - View of the courtyard
Museu Es Baluard - art object
Museu Es Baluard - Art object by S. Calatrava

The Plaça de la Porta de Santa Catalina “shines” with an unusual art installation. Dennis Oppenheim's upside down church is shown. The referential title is: "Device to Root Out Evil". The "device to eradicate evil" fights the demons in hell with the church tower stuck in the ground, said the artist. Other art installations in the square are two giant pigeons. We like to look at them too. Our tour ends at Plaça de la Porta de Santa Catalina.

Device to Root Out Evil


Device to Root Out Evil


Plaça de la Porta de Santa Catalina


Plaça de la Porta de Santa Catalina 


Our Conclusion

Anyone who follows our footsteps through Palma's old town will get to know many sights in a short space of time. By the way: We covered three kilometers on our walk.

 

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