Lose your heart to Palma – the multicultural Mediterranean capital
Original bars, classy restaurants, unusual shops and, most of all, creative people – Palma de Mallorca is changing at a breathtaking pace. If you know the Mediterranean capital from earlier times, you’ll rub your eyes in amazement because the city is becoming more and more cosmopolitan. It’s a hotspot for art, culture, architecture, gastronomy and shopping. There are many foreigners living and working in the Majorcan capital, having bought a property and made a new home to call their own here in this Mediterranean climate.
Cathedral, Royal Palace, La Lonja
Palma is a charming city with a great cultural heritage. The Cathedral, the Almudaina Royal Palace, La Lonja and the Castillo de Bellver are just some of the outstanding architectural monuments. And there are still plenty more reasons for Palma to be proud of its past. It has aristocratic palaces with impressive patios, numerous Catalan modernista buildings (Catalan modernism being comparable to Jugendstil or art nouveau) such as the Grand Hotel from 1904 and long-established shops and bakeries in the style of times gone by. These traditional Majorcan shops in the narrow, winding streets of the centre are a far cry from franchise stores. They actually form part of the city’s history. Their window displays show the same products as they have for decades. Among them, you’ll find specialist shops selling the finest fans, shawls, silver-handled walking sticks and the typical canvas espadrilles (known as alpargatas).
The most chic shopping boulevard in the city
It’s just lovely to stroll across the magnificent Plaza Major or through the San Miguel pedestrian area – perhaps even allowing yourself to be tempted by the window displays of the many shops in Avenida Jaime III or Paseo del Borne. Paseo del Borne, which everyone just calls “Borne” for short, has transformed into Palma’s most chic shopping street, with an international line-up that includes upmarket shops such as Hugo Boss, Escada and Louis Vuitton. You’ll also find Zara and H&M interspersed between them – just in case you don’t need a little handbag for €3,000.
Bar Bosch, legendary café
When you want to have a little break, you could pop into Bar Bosch, which is a legendary café in the Balearic capital, having been a constant here since 1936. The terrace, right by Plaza del Rey Juan Carlos I, is the best place to see and be seen in the centre of the city.
Cathedral of Light
Towering above the other buildings not far from here is Palma’s La Seu Cathedral – known as the Cathedral of Light. This Gothic cathedral is in a class of its own and contains works by the master of Catalan modernism, Antoni Gaudí, as well as the exceptional Majorcan artist Miquel Barceló. Directly above the altar hangs Gaudí’s canopy with a ring of lights. When illuminated, it transforms into a radiant, heptagonal crown. Growing out of it are spikes and vine leaves, and there are grapes hanging down – symbolic of the Eucharist. The combination is as daring as it is successful. Impressive Gothic architecture coupled with Catalan modernism!
15 tons of terracotta and a spectacular light show
A fantastic relief by Barceló in a side chapel is also an exhibition in itself. The artist worked 15 tons of terracotta clay to create this very modern representation of the “Feeding of the 5,000”. Another experience not to be missed is a tour of the outside terraces of the mighty cathedral, giving you the very best views of the old town and the sea. And then there is a phenomenon involving a spectacular morning light show, created by the reflection of a rose window on the opposite wall of the cathedral. This happens on 2.2. 2nd February and 11th November every year..
City of art and culture
The capital city of the Balearic Islands, with around 420,000 inhabitants, boasts a cultural scene that makes people sit up and take notice. You can even attend operas at the Teatro Principal. Then there is the Auditorium, where you can go to see famous solo artists perform or to be enchanted by the strains of the Symphony Orchestra of the Balearic Islands. Palma also has dozens of galleries and museums. Among them is the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Es Baluard. In an extravagant move, the museum has been integrated into the 16th century fortified city wall. Another venue to visit is the Gothic-style La Lonja, the former maritime trade building, with tall, slender columns that reach towards the sky. This building from the 15th century also makes a charming and unusual setting for exhibitions.
Palace with an orange grove in the old town
Would you like even more fine art? Then it’s highly recommended you stop by the splendid palaces in the old town – Casal Solleric and the Centre de Cultura Sa Nostra, the latter of which has an adjoining little garden of orange trees. After a stroll, it’s the perfect place to sit for a few moments on one of the stone benches amid the greenery, right in the middle of the city.
Lifestyle store in a former cinema
Rialto Living too is housed in a dignified town palace in Calle de San Feliu. Swedes Barbara Bergman and Klas Kall converted the former cinema into a lifestyle store that will take your breath away. This is the place to come for exquisite fashion, fine fabrics, accessories, perfumes, soaps, coffee-table books, and furniture. The store also includes a gallery and a bistro with palms.
The capital is home to a wide variety of individualists from all over the world, who have made their dream come true with a place in the sun. Perhaps that’s what makes this city so special. You can feel a spirit of optimism everywhere in this melting pot that is Palma. It’s an exceptional mix, which of course is also reflected in the saucepans of the city. For example, you only have to look at the many small, international restaurants in the district of Santa Catalina – a former fishermen’s and working-class area that’s developed into a hip and trendy neighbourhood.
If you have a passion for tapas, you can also pursue it here. You’ll see the mini snacks piled up on the counters in many bars and restaurants – arranged in such an appetising way that you’d love to try them all, one after another. Take the Sa Gerreria district not far from the town hall square, with its big, old olive tree. Even though it was once socially marginalised, the area has now built up its reputation thanks to a tapas trail every Tuesday – the Ruta Martiana – a veritable breakout of “tapas mania”. Another recommended spot is the San Juan gastronomic market housed in s’Escorxador, a former slaughterhouse dating back to 1905.
Triple the market hall atmosphere
And in the three Palma market halls – Olivar, Santa Catalina and Pere Garau – you can not only stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat and cheese, but also devour many a delicious morsel in proper style at the market counters.