A guide to the history of Palma de Majorca
January 25, 2014

If you’re looking for a sunny holiday destination that boasts wonderful beaches and excellent cultural attractions in equal measure look no further than Majorca. The Balearic Island is renowned for its stunning coastline but it has a truly fascinating history too.

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Even if you’d like to spend the majority of your getaway sunning yourself on one of the gorgeous stretches of sand, I’d strongly recommend setting aside one day to discover the delights of Majorca’s capital – Palma. To whet your appetite, I’ve put together some information about the city’s history, as well as some of its most famous landmarks. If you still need to take care of the practical details of your trip, check out this site for deals on hotels in Majorca.

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There is evidence of prehistoric settlements where Palma now stands, but it was the Romans who officially founded the city in 123 BC. It was then conquered by the Moors before eventually falling into the hands of King Jaume I in the 13th century – it was he who made Palma into the thriving city you see today. Under Spanish rule, Palma became an important port and commercial centre in the Mediterranean.

In fact, many of the city’s top monuments date from his period, although there are still remnants from the Moorish civilisation that developed Palma after the Romans. During the 18th century, walls were erected around the city to protect the settlement from attacks by pirates and corsairs. These were pulled down more recently to create a ringroad around Palma.

Top historical sites in Palma

It would be easy to spend several days discovering Palma and you’d still miss some of its historical attractions. The following are a few of the most important monuments that you can visit:

Almudaina Palace – We’ll start with one of the few landmarks remaining from the period of Moorish rule. The Almudaina Palace was constructed by the Moors and then modified by the Spanish monarchs after they took control of the island. So, what you see today is a mixture of Moorish and European architecture. There are some charming courtyards within its walls, while inside the fortress itself are displays of tapestries and furniture from various historical eras.

La Seu – La Seu, also known as Palma cathedral, is one of the city’s most important landmarks. Construction began in the 13th century and the Christian place of worship took the spot of a former mosque. However, it wasn’t until several centuries later that the structure was finally completed. It’s a stunning example of Gothic architecture and is a real wonder to behold – especially if you can take a boat trip to see it from the water.

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Bellver Castle – Situated on a hill overlooking Palma is Bellver Castle, a 14th century fort that was constructed on the orders of King Jaime II. It’s unusual in that it’s one of the few circular fortresses remaining in Europe and it has a distinctly Gothic style. Throughout the years it has been used for various purposes, including as a prison and a mint. Now, it houses the city’s history museum, making it a must-visit if you’re keen to learn more about Palma and Majorca’s fascinating past.

La Llonja – La Llonja is an interesting architectural mix, combining elements that make it look like a church from some angles and like a castle from others. It was designed by Guillem Sagrera – the architect responsible for the Portal del Mirador on the cathedral – as the city’s exchange in the 15th century. This grand building represents a period when Palma was a powerful maritime trading centre and is truly beautiful. It’s now used as a gallery to house temporary exhibitions and is only open to the public when there are artworks on display. Otherwise you’ll have to content yourself with taking in its amazing external appearance.

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