Santa Catalina: an alluring multicultural mix
Santa Catalina… oh, how you’ve changed! What once began as a slightly remote fishermen’s and working-class district outside the city walls of Palma has blossomed into one of the Majorcan capital’s trendy quarters. Admittedly, Santa Catalina is not right beside the sea like the fashionable district of Portixol, another of Palma’s very popular spots. But that doesn’t make it any less interesting, as it offers plenty of other special features. Right in the middle of this neighbourhood, you’ll find the Mercat Municipal de Santa Catalina. This covered market is the place to go in the mornings for fish and seafood, meat and sausage specialities, fruit and vegetables, cheese, wine, flowers …
Sample the local specialities
This is also the perfect place for a wee snack, or even lunch. Piled on the counters, you’ll find countless varieties of appetising tapas. Sushi and oyster bars will entice you with mouth-watering seafood. And you can find stalls that are typically Majorcan such as the Bar Joan Frau. You can lean casually on the bar there while treating yourself to the day’s house special. Today it could be a typical noodle dish called “fideus”, tomorrow it could be stuffed aubergines… For dessert, you can’t possibly pass up the “coca de albaricoque”, which is a home-made apricot cake. If you’re very lucky, you might just manage to get one of the scarce seats behind the bar.
Of course, another option is to buy a few gambas (shrimps), langostinos (prawns) or cuttlefish at one of the fish stalls and hotfoot it straight over to the Bar des Mercat, where you can get them grilled on the spot. You won’t get fresher than that!
Creative, lively, unconventional
Santa Catalina has long been cherished by both locals and visitors – but not only for its covered market. It has many special small shops and bakeries too. Then in the evening, this neighbourhood or “barrio” turns into a popular nightlife area. It has cool bars and restaurants run by hosts from all over the world. Santa Catalina has become home to a set of creative individualists and a lively atmosphere prevails. It has a multicultural mix with lots of panache. This district is ideal for anybody looking for a property in an exciting part of the city of Palma.
Of course, there’s no avoiding the popular iconic restaurant Patrón Lunares (translated as “Cap’n Mole” and named after a trawler captain). This Spanish “cantina” has real metropolitan flair. Berlin, Barcelona? Way off the mark! This is Palma de Mallorca. The street Carrer Fàbrica, where the Captain resided, has developed into a restaurant boulevard in the part that’s designated as a pedestrian area.
Catalan modernism with floral decoration
Despite all the changes, the old Santa Catalina is still there, so you should definitely take some time to stroll through the streets. Otherwise, you may not discover the beautiful Catalan modernista buildings.
There are a number of buildings from approximately 1904 to 1924 that are well worth taking a look at. One example is the old hardware shop from 1908, Ferretería La Central, with its curved wrought-iron balconies and floral ornamentation on the façade (at Carrer de Sant Magí 37). Another is the 1904 Hotel Hostal Cuba and its tower with ornate latticework (at Carrer de Sant Magí 1). Then there is Mercería Nadal, the resilient haberdashery with its laces, borders, threads and buttons kept in dozens of boxes and drawers. The shop has stood its ground there since 1924 (at Carrer de Cerdà 4).
World of mills
If you wanted to get an even greater sense of Santa Catalina in the olden days, you could wander through the narrow streets towards the five mills in Es Jonquet. The simplest way to get there is to slip through the archway in Carrer de Sant Magí. You can even visit one of the mills free of charge every Tuesday and Thursday morning (in Calle del Molí d’en Garleta 14). Inside it, you’ll find the Museu dels Molins, which is the mill museum. You can climb right up to the roof – and be rewarded with a fantastic view over the port of Palma.