Many visitors to Majorca will see nothing of its largest city, They’ll fly in to Palma airport and head straight off by transfer coach to one of the popular beach resorts such as Magaluf and Palma Nova. Palma (or in full, Palma de Mallorca) comes as a surprise to many people – it is stylish and sophisticated with plenty of charm. Located on the south coast of Majorca, the island’s capital city looks out over the sparkling blue seas of the Mediterranean.
Palma has a fascinating history, having been subject to numerous invasions. Roman remains are frequently being discovered and the Moors have left visible evidence of their occupation of the city before they were overthrown by the Spanish in the 13th Century. Palma’s multicultural history is reflected in the superb variety of architecture visible throughout the city. The magnificent Gothic cathedral (built on the site of a mosque which in turn was once a Roman temple) rises out of the city walls and dominates the skyline of the old town. The heart of Palma is found behind the cathedral. It’s worth spending an afternoon exploring the narrow alleys and lanes full of tiny tapas bars and shops selling anything from trendy clothes and shoes to traditional souvenirs of olive wood, pottery and wine.
For enthusiasts of art and culture Palma will not disappoint. The excellent Es Baluard Museum of Contemporary Art is well worth a visit. It has some delightful Majorcan landscapes, Picasso ceramics, and portraits by Picabia and Magritte, among others., housed in an impressive modern building which rises up from the old city ramparts. The outdoor sculpture gallery containing works by leading artists including Rodin, Moore and Chillida is the main attraction at the Palau March in the heart of the old town.
A different kind of culture can be enjoyed when Palma hosts one of its fiestas. If you are staying in Palma on January 20th you’ll experience the fiesta of the city’s patron saint, Sant Sebastian. The city comes out in force to celebrate the feast day with parades, music concerts & fireworks. One of Palma’s liveliest dates on the annual calendar takes place on the evening of 23rd June during the Fiesta of Sant Joan. On this ‘Nit de Foc’, or Night of Fire, bnfires are lit throughout the city and a crazy ‘fire run’ takes place where locals dress as demons & devils and run through the streets bearing torches. Everyone eventually gathers in the Parc de la Mer for rock concerts, more bonfires, fire crackers and an impressive fireworks display.
Everyone staying in Palma should find time to wander along the fabulous palm-lined promenade, gazing out at the shimmering waters of the Mediterranean. If you have a little longer to spare you should also take the quaint wooden train from Palma to the seaside town of Sóller, 17 miles away to the north. The line follows a pretty route through a string of tunnels that cuts through the Tramuntana mountains to the delightful town of Sóller with its Art Nouveau houses.
Stylish, sophisticated but also full of fun – there’s plenty to amuse every visitor to Palma.