- Travel Healthy
- TEN OF…
- Contact Us
Palma de Majorca: A Place Where the Modern Is Sometimes Buried Within the Ancient
by Roberta Sotonoff
There’s a street in Palma de Majorca called Carrer de la Torre de L’Amore (Tower of Love Street). It’s called that because once a man took the term “love thy neighbour” literally. Smitten by his neighbour’s wife, he built a tower to spy on her. The lady’s husband didn’t appreciate his behavior, called the police and had the tower destroyed.
If Palma’s old streets could speak, they could tell hundreds of such tales. Today, the Spanish city on the isle of Majorca, just a 50-minute flight from Barcelona, is a thriving tourist destination with friendly people, beautiful , sand beaches and an average of 300 days of sunshine a year. Within ancient buildings there are some very modern surprises. So while the beaches are the island’s draw, afterward explore Palma.
Stroll the waterfront path when sun beats down and soft breezes float through the air. Water and palm trees bound one side while refreshment stands, artists and woodcarvers border the other. Strumming guitarists provide pleasant background music.
The most imposing building on the water’s edge is the nearly 1,000-year-old Cathedral of Palma de Majorca (Le Seu). To hold up its nave, it takes 14, 70-ft tall columns, which fan out like palm trees on the ceiling. The rose glass window, which is 40 feet in diameter, leaves one’s mouth agape. The altar looks like it is made of pure gold. This church is so massive that one almost needs binoculars to see the priest when he is celebrating Mass.
Just behind the church sits the Jardins de s’Hort del Rei (Kings Gardens). Surrounded by lush, verdant landscape, numerous fountains arch into a large rectangular pool. It is a step away from the crowds and into serenity.
Walk a little farther to the 19th-century Plaça Major. Honey-colored buildings housing outdoor restaurants, shops and handicraft markets border it. On weekends in July and August, craft markets fill its square.
Near the Cathedral, 16th-century, old city walls are now the backdrop for modern works of famous artists like Picasso, Calder, Magritte and Miro at the Museu d’Es Baluard (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Porta de Santa Catalina 10). (A bit of trivia: Jean Miro made Palma his home in later life.) The museum’s courtyard showcases a tranquil ocean view and the marina.
Just opposite the church are the many horseshoe arches and rook-like corners of the Almudaina Palace (Palau de l’Almudaina). There’s no mistaking it was once an Arab citadel. Tours explore the now military headquarters and the king’s official residence when he is on island.
This Palace marks the beginning of the Old Jewish Quarter located just east of the Cathedral. Wander through the medieval maze of narrow, cobblestone streets that look like a picture torn from a 14th-century book. Only doorways are visible. If one is open, peek in to see the flowering plants that decorate the courtyards.
This old neighborhood mixes the old with the new. An 800-year-old building houses a very hip boutique hotel, the Santa Clara (C/San Alonso, 16). Some of the interior is decorated with Jackson Pollack-like designs.
The last practicing Jews were expelled over 400 years ago and only a few European Jews have returned in recent years. So, it’s amazing to find a Sephardic (Spanish Jewish) restaurant, Las Olas Bistro, (C/ Can Fortuny, 5) which serves Sephardic entrees like a pastry-filled lamb and eggplant. Even more surprising is that the cook is Cambodian.
Between Palma’s museums, beaches and history-filled attractions, it is easy to find something to love.
Need travel help?
If you're thinking of traveling, Indulgedtraveler will design a 'bespoke' trip just for your needs, wants and enjoyment. We have specialized travel pros who will make your travel dreams a reality. Contact us
|Print article||This entry was posted by Barbara Kingstone on August 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm, and is filed under Destinations. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|