About Palma de Mallorca
The capital of the Balearic Islands was founded in 123 B.C. by General Romano Quinto Cecilio Metelo. Since then the Mediterranean city suffered countless foreign conquests until 1229 when a young king of twenty-one years old managed to recover it for his kingdom. His name was James I of Aragon, better known as James I the Conqueror.
Today Palma is a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant population of nearly half a million inhabitants spread over a little more than 208 km2. Its mild Mediterranean climate makes it perfect for year-round visits. For its nearby beaches in summer, for its hundreds of restaurants to enjoy its gastronomy, for its art galleries and clothing stores of the most exclusive brands and much more, the capital of Mallorca is a perfect destination for a three-day getaway. Palma is also excellently connected to the main Spanish and European cities.
Places of interest – Things to see in Palma de Mallorca and surroundings
Below you can find a list of touristic places to see in the center of Palma de Mallorca and around the city, as well as a number of tips to improve your visit.
Palma de Mallorca Cathedral, the most beautiful thing in the city
Gothic style building built between 1229 and 1601. Known in Mallorca as La Seu or the Cathedral of Santa María, it was built by order of James I on his arrival to the island. It is located on the city wall, where the Great Mosque of Madina Mayurca was erected before, which is how Palma was known during the Muslim reign on the island.
This majestic building crowned the skyline of the ancient city. When you stand gawking in front of the temple, remember that it has taken almost 800 years for it to look that way. Enjoy its two chapter rooms, one in the Gothic style and the other in the Baroque style, marvel at its side naves and its central room crowned by the main altar. Stroll through the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament and discover the mural created by the artist Miquel Barceló between 2001 and 2006.
If you are thinking of visiting the Cathedral of Mallorca, don’t forget to visit its impressive terraces from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the city and the bay of Palma. Discover all the art of the interior of the church, visit its more than 10 tons of cast bells, chapels, the museum and much more.
In addition, if you’re planning your visit in the months of February or November, you can’t miss the show of the eight. On the 2nd of February, the Candelaria festival, and 11th of November, the feast of Saint Martin; due to the orientation of the Cathedral, the reflection of the larger rose window is projected under the smaller one on the main facade and the shape of an eight is created. Between 8 and 9 in the morning of these two days, hundreds of people come to the cathedral to enjoy what they say is the best light to visit it. And that’s not all, on the twenty-first of December, during the winter solstice, the two overlap. Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful things you can see in Palma.
Visiting hours and prices:
- April, May and October:
Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 17:15h.
- From 1 June to 30 September:
Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 18:15h.
- From 1 November to 31 March:
Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 15:15h.
- All year round:
Saturdays: from 10:00 to 14:15h.
- Price: Adults 7 euros (includes audio guide) and children free. If you want to visit the terraces of the Cathedral, the price is 12 euros (reservation required in advance).
Paseo del Borne and Jaime III Street
These are the two main arteries in the centre of Palma and its most commercial streets. In them you will find the best known stores of national and international brands. Without a doubt, two of the best places in the city.
The Paseo del Borne was planned by the Madrid architect Isidro González Velázquez at the beginning of the 19th century. This boulevard connects the Plaza de la Reina with the Plaza Juan Carlos I, better known in Mallorca as the Plaza de las tortugas, due to the stone turtles inside the fountain of the plaza.
On the sides of the Paseo del Borne we can find several of the most impressive palaces in the Mallorcan capital, among which is the Casal Solleric. These buildings have a traditional Mallorcan style, although we can also find buildings from the beginning of the 20th century.
The promenade is guarded by four sphinxes and has a leafy grove. In it there are many terraces where you can enjoy a nice coffee in winter or a refreshing beer when you press the heat of the Mallorcan summer.
Jaime III Street is an avenue with residential buildings and a multitude of shops in its arcades. It is one of the busiest streets in the city and is the perfect street for all those who like to go shopping. The street joins Plaza Juan Carlos I with Paseo Mallorca, where the city’s stream runs, a torrent that comes down with water from the Sierra de Tramuntana.
Typical Mallorcan gastronomy: Ca’n Joan de s’Aigo and Bar Bosch
If the day is not accompanied or you are simply tired of walking around the city, take a break and discover Ca’n Joan de s’Aigo, Palma’s most emblematic chocolate factory. What began with a place to have an ice cream or an ensaimada with chocolate 300 years ago, is today a meeting point for “palmesanos” and visitors. Here you can taste typical Mallorcan products such as ensaimada, quart, coca de trampó, cocarrois and much more, all accompanied by ice cream in summer or chocolate in winter.
This chocolate shop, one of the oldest in Europe, has three premises for your comfort located in Can Sanç Street, in the heart of the historic centre, another in the Jaime III area, and the last at the end of Sindicato Street, one of Palma’s commercial streets.
You’ll probably have to queue up before you can sit down to taste these delicious Mallorcan products. Don’t get impatient, it’s part of the ceremony. Technology has facilitated the process of making ice cream, sweets and chocolate, however, the essence, tradition and the feeling of travelling to the past have not been lost. You will feel as if you have travelled to the 18th or 19th century.
Another must-see gastronomic stop is Bar Bosch. This establishment has more than 80 years of history and it is a perfect place to take a break after a day of shopping as it is located in the Plaza del Rey Juan Carlos I, which joins Jaime III and Paseo del Borne, two of the most important commercial avenues in Palma.
The bar has a very large terrace where you can taste their typical “llonguets”, some sandwiches with hot bread and very crispy and the filling that you like. Enjoy the relaxed life of the Mallorcan capital and refresh yourself with a beer before continuing your visit.
Traditional festivities in Palma: San Sebastián and the Battle of Canamunt and Canavall
Every September the battles of Canamunt and Canavall, which took place in the 16th and 17th centuries, are recreated in Palma. In these battles, two important families clashed and divided the city’s areas of influence. One of them was the one that ruled the upper part of the city, “Canamunt” and the other one ruled the lower part, “Canavall”.
Today there is a representation of this battle between neighbors, yes, with water pistols. The party has limited capacity, so get your yellow or red t-shirt and water pistol and join a side – discover Palma’s traditions in a different way!
January 20th is the feast day of San Sebastián, patron saint of the city of Palma. On the night before this day the “foguerons” are celebrated, outdoor barbecues in the main squares and streets of the city. There are also many free concerts. This is one of the most atmospheric nights in the city centre, where tourists and people from Palma enjoy this special evening together.
You already know, if you are passing through Mallorca at this time, go to a supermarket and buy the typical kit for bonfires; chistorra, longaniza, sobrasada, pork loin, chorizos and whatever you prefer to drink.
Pueblo Español de Palma de Mallorca
Enjoy this open-air museum in which you can find several of the most representative buildings, squares and streets of several Spanish cities. It was built between 1965 and 1968 by the architect Fernando Chueca Goitia with the idea of reproducing the charm of a medieval city surrounded by a defensive wall.
This museum has an area of 24,000 m² and you can find an impressive combination of buildings from different periods of Spanish history, including Arabic, Gothic, Baroque or Renaissance styles. Enjoy 72 examples of Spanish architecture, built to scale and with materials brought from the original locations.
Lose yourself in the narrow streets and discover replicas of such impressive buildings as the hermitage of San Antonio, the house of El Greco in Toledo or the courtyard of Los Arrayanes de la Alhambra.
In addition to its function as a museum, the Pueblo Español de Palma hosts several craft and gastronomy markets throughout the year. If your visit coincides with one of these markets, you can enjoy one of the most beautiful walks of your visit to the Mallorcan capital and go shopping for the best Mallorcan crafts. Don’t miss it!
Route of Mallorcan patios of Palma – Courtyards of Palma
The courtyards of the old stately homes in the centre of Palma are one of the most characteristic elements of the city. Most of them were built in the 14th and 15th centuries and were a symbol of social status and power. These courtyards used to be built in houses of high nobility and important merchants, although some were also built in houses of the middle classes, clergy and civil servants. Daily life was done in them, as they had no roof, the air went through the courtyard and cooled it, making it the coolest part of the house. These courtyards were the air conditioning of the time.
All have a similar structure: a large access portal, a covered passage between the courtyard and the portal and the courtyard itself, a space without a roof, with arches, columns and capitals, with stairs leading to the dwelling.
Enjoy strolling through the centre of Palma and discover patios in almost every corner of the city. Look at the cobblestone structure of the courtyard, slightly sloping to collect rainwater and store it in a cistern. The houses are facing the courtyards so that windows, balconies and balustrades receive as much sunlight as possible.
In most of the courtyards you can see the family coat of arms as well as the old garages and stables. Today most of them are decorated with pots of green plants and in many of them you can see old horse carriages and other junk from centuries past.
Arab Baths of Palma
The Arab baths of Palma are one of the few architectural elements of the Muslim era that are still visible in the city. Most Muslim buildings were demolished or renovated after the Christian conquest of the Kingdom of Aragon in the 13th century.
The baths were built in the 11th century and were probably part of a palace of some Muslim nobleman. Today they are a museum and you can visit the old steam baths located in a square room with 12 columns that holds a dome with round openings. The room has a double floor with holes through which water and steam circulated.
Visiting hours and prices:
- From April to November from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- From December to March from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Price:5 euros (children under 10 free).
La Almudaina Palace
The Royal Palace of Palma, also known as the Almudaina Palace, is a modification of the old Muslim palace called “Zuda”, and is one of the few monuments preserved after the Christian reconquest. Construction began in 1281 and lasted until 1342 during the reign of James II, son of James I the Conqueror. La Almudaina was the seat of the Kingdom of Mallorca during the reigns of James II, Sancho I and James III until 1349, when Mallorca ceased to be an independent kingdom and was integrated into the Crown of Aragon. It is currently used by the Spanish Royal Family as an official residence for state ceremonies and royal receptions during their stays in Mallorca.
The palace is located just next to the Cathedral and consists of a rectangular tower that housed the Palace of the King and a wing that extends along the facade, which forms the Queen’s Palace. On the side of the wall facing the sea is a large room called the Tinell and the Royal Chapel. Among the palaces of the King and Queen are the Arab baths, recovered after the restorations of recent years.
At the top of the main tower, known as the Tower of Homage or the Angel, a bronze figure of the ancient Archangel Gabriel, patron saint of the city of Palma de Mallorca, stands out.
When you visit its interior you will be able to observe the different styles of the palace. On the ground floor a medieval style with works from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. The upper floor is decorated with objects from other Royal Sites from the 17th, 17th and 19th centuries.
Visiting hours and prices:
- Winter opening hours (October to March)
From 10:00 – 18:00h. Closed on Mondays.
- Summer timetable (April to September)
From 10:00 – 20:00h. Closed on Mondays.
- Price: 7 euros, reduced 4 euros. Children under 5 years old: Free of charge.
18 May, International Museum Day. (Except closing days).
12 October, National Day of Spain, without distinction of nationality.
Bellver Castle, the best thing to do with children in Palma
If you visit the city of Palma de Mallorca, you will be able to see Bellver Castle, just 3 kilometres from the city centre, on top of a hill 112 metres above sea level and surrounded by a forest.
This Gothic-style castle was built in the early 14th century during the reign of King James II, but it was his father, King James I, who ordered its construction. The hill on which it stands is full of history as it was a strategic point during the reconquest. King James I ordered the construction of the castle as a reminder of the Christian victory over the Muslims.
Its structure combines the needs of a palace with defensive elements. It is the only circular castle in Spain, one of the few in Europe and the only one of its kind.
The castle is called Bellver because etymologically it means “beautiful views”. If you visit the city of Palma, this is undoubtedly one of the places of tourist interest that you cannot miss, especially if you are accompanied by children. From the top of the castle you have a spectacular view of the city of Palma and its bay.
Visiting hours and prices:
- April – September:
Tuesday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. – Sundays and public holidays: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
- October – March:
Tuesday to Saturday: 10 am to 6 pm – Sundays and public holidays: 10 am to 3 pm. Closed on Mondays.
- Price: 4 euros. Reduced 2 euros. Free admission: Sundays and children under 14 years. Residents in Palma: 2.50 euros.
The Lonja de Palma is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the city. Due to the great commercial activity carried out on the island, it became necessary to build a mercantile building and a meeting place for merchants.
Built in 1420 by the local architect Guillem Sagrera, it was the building where all the island’s commercial transactions were carried out. Inside you can see a large open space with four naves at the same height separated by six helical columns without capital. Despite being a Gothic building of the fifteenth century and have a number of religious elements, including the Guardian Angel who protects the merchants, has the particularity that never belonged to the church but to the merchants of the island.
From the outside you can see that the lower part of the building is older than the upper, this is due to the earthquake that took place in the city of Palma in 1851. This earthquake damaged many of the buildings in the city centre, including La Lonja, and many of them had to be rebuilt. In the case of La Lonja the building was rebuilt after the earthquake, maintaining its original structure.
In addition, the building is located in one of the most atmospheric areas of the city of Palma. If you decide to visit this building you cannot miss the opportunity to lose yourself in the narrow streets around La Lonja and enjoy the wonderful bars and restaurants you can find. After lunch you can visit the shopping area in the centre of Palma which is less than a five minute walk away.
- April-October: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- November-March: 10:30 to 13:30h – 16:00 to 18:00h
- Admission is free.
Convent of Santa Clara
Discover this church founded in the thirteenth century, built on the remains of a Muslim building that was expanded and reformed over the centuries. Next to the church you will find the convent of Las Carmelitas founded in the same century. Although it is not possible to visit it, as it is a cloistered convent, you can buy the delicious cakes and sweets that the nuns make by hand. The small shop has a lathe where you can buy these traditional sweets. In the shop they have the letter with the prices and to be taken care of you have to ring the bell.
Depending on the time of year they add typical products from each season, even ice cream in summer to cool down during the hot Mallorcan summer. A good way to give a sweet touch to your visit and replenish energy during the route through the center.
Visiting hours of the convent and lathe:
- Mon-Sat 9:00-12:25h and 16:15-18:35h.
- Sun 9:00-11:35h and 16:15-18:35h.
- Admission is free.
Church of San Francisco
After the conquest of the island by James I, the Franciscan congregation arrived in Palma and began construction of the convent and church of San Francisco in 1286, being inaugurated in 1317 as a church, although it was not consecrated until 1385.
The original façade was removed in 1618 after being damaged by lightning in 1580. The present façade dates from 1700 although it has been remodelled several times until the middle of the 19th century. Above the main door we can see the figures of the Immaculate Conception and Ramon Llull on the left side. Next to the doors are the representations of Santo Domingo and San Francisco on the sides. All these elements are presided over by the rose window and the sundial at the top and inside the church we find the tomb of Ramón Llull.
Next to the church is the convent of San Francisco, built between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with one of the best-known Gothic cloisters in Mallorca due to its fine columns and arches that surround it. This trapezoidal cloister is the nucleus of the convent and was built to isolate from the outside noise creating an atmosphere of peace and silence that we can still enjoy today.
Visiting hours and prices:
- From 01 Mar to 31 Oct
Monday to Saturday- 10:00 to 18:00h. Closed on Sundays.
- From 01 nov to 28 feb
Monday to Saturday- 10:00 to 17:00h. Closed on Sundays.
- Prices: General: 5 euros, reduced: 3 euros and children free.
Church of Santa Eulalia
After the Christian conquest of the Kingdom of Aragon in the 13th century, the mosques were burned or converted into Christian churches. Santa Eulalia was the first church on the island next to San Miguel and these were the two churches into which the Christian population had been divided since the conquest. It’s a Gothic construction except for its bell tower and main façade, nineteenth-century Gothic style, which you can see from many parts of the city for its great height. The facade and bell tower were renovated after an earthquake that occurred in the city in 1851.
In addition to visiting the inside of the church you can visit the terraces, which occupy the same area as the floor of the church, at a height of 23 meters and from this point contemplate the 55 meters of the bell tower, the highest in Palma, and the fearsome gargoyles that protect the building. The bell tower houses 4 working bells, the largest weighs more than 4 tonnes and the oldest dates from 1788.
The church is located in the Plaza de Santa Eulalia, where the Palma market used to be held, which was distributed between this market and the adjacent Plaza de Cort. In this market the best silks, threads, cloths and even wood and reeds were sold.
- Monday to Friday: 9:30-12:00h and 18:30-20:30h.
- Saturday and eves of festive: 10:30-13:30h and 18:30-20:30h.
- Holidays: 9:30-13:30h, 18:30-19:30h and 21:00-22:00h.
- Admission is free.
Plaza de Cort
With the arrival of the Romans to the island, the city of Palma was founded and the first walls were built to protect the city. The current Plaza de Cort was just on the edge of this wall and housed one of the main gates of access and exit to the interior of the island, being a meeting point for traders, workers, travelers, etc..
After the Muslim conquest, the walls of the city were enlarged and it became known as Medina Mayurqa. This eleventh-century extension extended over the entire surface that is now known as the centre of Palma. Although the Plaza de Cort was not consolidated as the nerve centre of the city until the conquest of Jaime I, concentrating commercial, religious, legal and administrative activities. In the 13th century, the government chose the building of the Sant Andreu hospital as its headquarters, where Palma’s town hall is now located. The current building was built between 1649 and 1680 with its famous bench of the vagrants or “des si no fos”.
Next to the town hall we find the Consell Insular de Mallorca in a building dating from 1882, built to be the Provincial Council. Formerly this place housed the prison of the city that functioned until the beginning of the works of the present building. This prison had a torture room and precarious conditions, with capacity for forty prisoners.
Already in the nineteenth century began to create new streets and squares, which we know today. The Plaza de Cort was connected with Colom Street towards Plaza Mayor and with Conquistador Street towards Plaza de la Reina. In 1999 the Cort olive grove was planted, the most photographed and recognised tree in the city, as a symbol of peace and rootedness to the earth. It discovers in its trunk the different curious forms that are formed according to the angle in which you look at it.