Palma de Mallorca
The capital of the largest Balearic Island — Majorca — relaxed like the siesta, playful and joyful like sangria. There is a legend that this city appeared because the rugged Roman consul Caecilius Metellus, wearing a palm crown, got off the ship and fell in love with the land by the Mediterranean Sea from the first sight. The past of Majorca is filled with tragic and happy events, so the city got a fascinating architectural layout — a unique combination of Arabic and European cultures. And Spanish nature became a great frame for this exceptional city.
Districts of Palma De Mallorca
Old Town is the historic center and heart of Palma that tourists adore. Its boundaries are delineated by six broad avenues that were once the site of the powerful city walls. This area has the highest concentration of historical and cultural attractions. The Old City is where the ancient Arab baths are preserved. There are many beautiful buildings constructed by noble citizens in different epochs. The most famous of them is the house of the Marquis de Vivot. You can find wonderful cafes and restaurants, homemade shops, and cozy stores in this area. There are many luxury hotels and bars full of Spanish charm, where you can enjoy a glass of hot drinks and a variety of tapas.
The La Lonja area is geographically part of the Old Town but is very different. It owes its name to the trading exchange building of the same name, designed and built in 1426-1456 by the architect Guillem Sagrera. Nowadays, various cultural events take place in the building with unique interiors. Tourists like to visit La Lonja in the evening when it's a lively place to be. Stopping for a drink or two in the pub or bar, a tourist has all chances to become a listener of this mini-concert. Live jazz, rock, flamenco, and Cuban music are practically traditional in these establishments.
El Paseo Del Borne is not only the most elegant avenue in Palma but also the center of the commercial and social life of the island's capital. It has been the site of major parades, demonstrations, and public festivities for more than a century. Famous designers adore this area. Here you can find a lot of chic boutiques. Thanks to this, the street has received its second name — Golden Mile. Walking along the avenue, tourists do not deny themselves the pleasure of visiting one of the popular restaurants and admiring the architecture of the ancient Palace Morell (Palacio Morell).
Santa Catalina is an extraordinary neighborhood in the city. It was named after the patron saint of merchants and sailors. It was not part of the city many years ago. At first, it was a fishing village, and shipyards operated later. Today, Santa Catalina is one of Palma's most glamorous neighborhoods. It is built with beautiful Art Nouveau buildings and remarkably photogenic traditional old houses with brightly painted facades, wooden shutters, and small balconies. But the real center of attraction is the Mercat de Santa Catalina. This is the oldest food market in the city. The best restaurants in Palma buy their food here.
The promenade El Paseo Maritimo (Paseo Maritimo) was built during 1940-1962 by engineer Gabriel Rock. It stretches for 5 km along the coastline and gives tourists and citizens a great opportunity to admire the sea scenery and yachts bobbing on the waves. There are many hotels along the waterfront area, including some with their own beaches.
El Portixol is an area on the outskirts of the city, a former fishing village. A boardwalk leads to it. It is very popular with cyclists and rollerbladers. There is a beautiful beach, many bars, and restaurants. On hot days, Portixol is pleasant and refreshing.
Attractions in Palma De Mallorca
You can't limit your stay in Palma de Mallorca to just a beach vacation, no matter how inviting the white sand and warm azure waters are. There are so many beautiful places, historical monuments, and attractions that you would need a real strategic plan to visit them all in one trip. Maybe, there's no need to strive for that. After all, Palma de Mallorca is especially welcoming to its guests, who return here more than once.
Active colonization of Mallorca by the Phoenicians began in the VIII century BC. Carthage controlled its entire territory for a few centuries, and after its fall, during the Second Punic War, the pirates reigned here. In 123 BC, the Romans took control of the island, and the plunderers were suppressed. Wishing to consolidate their power in this part of the Mediterranean, the imperialists founded the port city of Palmaria (Palma). From here, they carried on trade with Africa and the provinces of Spain.
In 427 AD, when the Roman Empire broke up, the Vandals occupied Majorca under the leadership of Gunderic. They used the island as a base for many years, returning here after the raids and looting. But this milestone in the city's history ended when the Byzantines came to Palma in 534. Christianity spread on the island during their rule, churches were built, and infrastructure was developed.
In 903, the Arabs conquered the Balearic Islands, including Mallorca. The local inhabitants were converted to the Muslim faith. The city of Palma renamed Medina Mayurqa during this period, was rebuilt, expanded, and transformed into one of the largest ports in the Caliphate of Cordoba. It saw the development of manufacturing, agriculture, and trade. The Balearic Islands became an independent territory in the XI century after the collapse of the Caliphate, becoming the Muslim state of Taifa of Dénia. This is quite a dark period in the city's history, as it turned into a pirate port for almost 100 years, from which attacks on the ships and coastal settlements of the Christian states were carried out.
At the beginning of the XIII century, an army led by King James I of Aragon reconquered the Balearic Islands from the pirates, and they became part of his kingdom. And Palma was given the status of capital of the kingdom of Majorca.
After the expulsion of the Arabs, the Catalans settled in the city. Shipbuilding and trade flourished here. But in the middle of the XIV century, another black page of the city's history opened when a plague broke out on the island and took a large part of the population.
In 100 years, Mallorca became part of Catholic Spain. Later, when King Philip V won the civil war of the XVI century, a decree was signed defining the territory as an autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. Beginning in 1810, Mallorca began to receive Spanish refugees fleeing the occupation of the mainland by Napoleon's troops. During this period, the island's capital was given its present-day name.
By the middle of the XIX century, the city has become a popular vacation spot for European nobility and bohemians. There is a version that Frederic Chopin and his beloved Baroness Aurore Dupin (George Sand) were the "pioneers" of the resort.
The development of the resort potential of the city was temporarily suspended by World War II. But at its end, tourists returned to Palma de Mallorca. The construction of a new airport in 1965 and the active development of infrastructure contributed to the fact that Palma became a very popular resort in a short time.
Over the past 50 years, the city has become even more beautiful. A subway line was opened in 2007, and the tourist infrastructure has not ceased to improve. Now the number of visitors to the island's capital annually counts in the tens of millions. Aristocrats and the artistic elite still love the city. Walking through its streets, a tourist is as likely to meet the Queen of Spain as Michael Douglas.
The best time to visit Palma De Mallorca
November is the wettest month in Palma de Mallorca. It opens the gates for a bit of winter chill, which is somewhat relative. Daytime temperatures don't drop below +13°C between December and March. You have to forget about sea bathing during this time, but the beautiful resort is famous not only for sea bathing.
Tourists come here in the off-season to enjoy the flavor of local festivals, get acquainted with the culture of Mallorca, and enjoy the blossoming almond orchards. And do not forget the perks — inexpensive airfare, nice prices for accommodation (they are cheaper by 2-3 times), and the lack of crowds of tourists.
The most important festival for the city — the day of San Sebastian, the patron saint of Palma and the entire island — is held in winter. The evening of January 19 is a time for fun — concerts, parades, theatrical performances, exhibitions, and fireworks shows. More formal events are held the next day to commemorate the saint.
Citizens of Palma follow the same principle with the second most important festival in the city, the Festival of San Juan, which falls on the summer solstice. On the evening of June 23, the most memorable event of the festival, the Nit de Foc (Night of Fire), takes place. Campfires are lit on the streets, and townspeople put on their demon costumes and start a mad race with torches in their hands. At the end of the race, everyone gathers in the Parc de la Mar, listening to rock musicians, dancing, and blowing up crackers. Then comes the morning of June 24, and it's time for a more formal and relaxed celebration.
Visitors have a unique opportunity every year on the third Thursday in September to experience the Nit de l'Art (Night of the Arts). The city's many museums and galleries open their exhibitions free of charge to visitors, offering them wine and light refreshments. There are music, theater, and light shows in the streets.
Before the Christmas season begins, there is the traditional TaPalma tapas festival and chef competition. During this multi-day event, Palma de Mallorca's 47 restaurants and bars offer visitors exclusive and creative tapas and delicious cocktails at a discounted price. It's special fun for tourists to go from one bar to another with a noisy group of friends to have a glass of their favorite Spanish appetizer.
Another purchase that experienced travelers advise is beverages from Palma de Mallorca. Local wine is almost never exported, and it will definitely be a new taste even for the sommelier if they are visiting. The best are considered to be varieties from Binissalem and Santa Maria. And another must-have is the island liqueurs of Palo, Hierbas Dulces, Herbas Mixt, and Herbas Secas. They are made from herbs, carob fruits, and nuts.
Desalinated seawater is used in Palma as tap water. It is not suitable for drinking and cooking. It is better to use bottled water.
The best way to explore Palma on your own is by hop-on hop-off (a bus with an audio guide in eight languages). You can buy a ticket for 24 or 48 hours. As you go from one attraction to another, the transport makes 18 stops. You can get off and on at any of them as long as the ticket is valid.
Buy original souvenirs at the night market near the Passeig de Sagrera promenade. It's open from 7 PM to midnight. Here you can buy local handicrafts made of glass, ceramics, textiles, and leather. The traditional souvenir is a painted clay whistle siurell. Meanwhile, it is safe to buy jewelry made of organic pearls Majorica only in brand stores. Otherwise, there is a big risk of getting a fake.
The must-taste dishes are Majorca frit mallorquin with liver and lamb; locally produced sausages (sobrasada, butifarron, camaiore, and blanquet); and the traditional Palma dessert, coca de verdura, a triangular closed pie made with herbs and raisins.
Things to do in Palme De Mallorca
- Take a tour of the most important architectural landmarks. The list includes Bellver Castle, the only circular fortress in Spain constructed in the Gothic style. The Cathedral, or La Seu, towering over Palma's old harbor, is also a must-see. Third on the list is the Royal Palace of La Almudaina. During the Arab period, it was a just fortress. James II turned it into the residence of the Mallorcan kings in 1230. It is still the venue for official events during the royal family's stay on the island.
- Experience the beauty of vacationing in a resort that aristocrats and Hollywood stars love. Most of the beach areas are designated by the Blue Flag. The sand here is soft, the entrance to the water is gentle, and waves in the sea are very rare. The infrastructure of beaches is developed perfectly. They are all equipped with sun beds, toilets, and showers. You can rent umbrellas and sun loungers. Entrance to most of Palma's beaches is free, with the exception of a few private beaches (Anima Beach Club, Puro Beach, and Nassau Beach Club). These VIP areas offer additional services, and there are far fewer vacationers.
- Unclogging the club in one of the many golf centers for which Mallorca's capital and the island itself are famous. The Spanish and European golf championships, the Balearic Islands Trophy, and many others are held here. The Muntaner Golf Club is famous for its beautifully laid lawned course, an excellent restaurant, and a thousand-year-old olive tree growing right next to it. Golf Son Quint is a course located on one of the slopes of the Serra de Tramuntana with beautiful views of Palma and the sea.
- Do a marathon tour of the museums. The Spanish Village at Son Espanyolet in the western part of the city is particularly unusual and interesting. Models of the most famous buildings, monuments, squares, and streets of different cities of the country are built under the open sky on an area of more than six thousand square meters. Children will love the Toy Museum (Museu de Sa Jugueta). You can not only admire its rarities but also play with them. Palau March Museu presents a collection of sculptures by Rodin, Eduardo Chillida, and Henry Moore. The city has several distinctive monomuseums dedicated to the work of artists who have at one time or another lived and worked in Palma de Mallorca. They include the Joan Miró Foundation and the Krekovic Museum.
- Go scuba diving off the coast of Palma. The best time for this is late spring and early summer and the Indian summer. There are particularly popular diving spots. The first is Sa Madonna Cave, with air chambers inside and a statue of the Virgin Mary, which was installed at the entrance by one of the fishermen. The second is an area with ships sunk at a depth of 28-30 meters. There are barges, boats, and yachts. Divers can enter the living quarters, engine rooms, and cargo bays.
- Take a breeze ride on the old electric train from Palma to Soller. The trains leave from the station in Plaza de Espana, and the route is more than 100 years old. The retro trains retain their authentic finish, and the panoramic windows allow unobstructed views of the stunning fields, citrus groves, and towns spread out under the mountain ranges. The train stops at the most beautiful places, and passengers go out to the observation decks. The train passes through the steep mountain sections by underground tunnels. There are 13 of them on the way, and the longest one is 2,856 meters long.