The capital of Majorca is Palma. Over half of Majorca’s population live in the capital (residents not including tourists). The most striking feature of Palma is the spectacular Gothic cathedral, La Seu, which towers over the town. It’s considered one of Spain’s most outstanding Gothic buildings. The building of the cathedral began in around 1300 and took approximately 300 hundred years to fully complete.
In around 123 BC the Romans founded Palmeria following their invasion of the island. Here they established their center of government and that’s how it’s stayed even until today.
When the Moors took the island in AD 902 they renamed the city Medina Mayurka and built a Mosque on the site of the present cathedral. They also enlarged the city walls constructed by the Romans and build public baths, one of which you can visit today at Banys Arabs.
Following the Christian conquest by Jaume I, the city was renamed Ciutat de Mallorca and nearly all traces of Moorish architecture were removed including the Mosque which was replaced by the La Seu cathedral you see today. The city walls were upgraded in the 16th century but the boundaries they set, as defined by the Arabs, remained unchanged until the early 20th century when Palma finally outgrew it’s confines.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s the city grew rapidly adding industrial zones, health and educational districts. In 1978 the university (Universitat de les Illes Balears) was built. In the 1990’s, following many years of neglect, the city interior was given a facelift and traffic was diverted around it’s many medievil streets.
Sight-seeing in Palma
Aside from the city’s cathedral, which you cannot miss on your visit to the capital, there are many other sites worth a visit…
Banys Arabs – Arab Baths
If you want to take a glimpse at one of the few remaining arab buildings then take a look at the Banys Arabs. Here you’ll find the stone baths which date back to the 10th century. They’re set in a small courtyard and are accompanied by a citrus garden which makes for a very relaxing way to spend an hour or so.
Palma Carriage Ride
For those wishing to see the sights of Palma in a more relaxed fashion, why not hire one of Palma horse and carriages. As cars are not allowed in the old city, it’s perhaps the only alternative to going on foot.
Basilica de Sant Francesc
At the Basilica de Sant Francesc you’ll find gothic cloisters, a central well, gothic pillars, baroque altar, elaborately decorated chapels and the tomb of Ramon Llull, 13th century Mallorcan writer.