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The Winter Solstice Rose Window


A rather stunning and beautiful apparition could be observed in Palma de Mallorca over the last fortnight, early in the mornings.

On the day of the Winter solstice, the light of the rising sun entered through the large stained-glass rose window on the east façade of La Seu (Palma’s cathedral), leaving straight through the rosetted window on the west front and giving an awe-inspiring impression from the distance as if the cathedral was being illuminated from the inside which of course it never is at that time of day.

The effect could be seen this year from December 16th until about now, but was best visible on December 21st, the first day of Winter and the date with the shortest day of the year, and with the longest night. The visual effect took no more than ten minutes to come and go, every day.

The visual feat is nothing but a tribute to the amazing talents of architects, builders and mathematicians of the cathedral which was built from 1230 on and completed only nearly 400 years later, in 1601. The building has subsequently undergone a number of reforms and modifications, especially after an earthquake that occurred in 1851, destroying the main façade (the west side). The last major invention was that of the Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí, between 1904 and 1914. He is said to have designed the current and rather beautiful rose windows, superimposing three glass sections in the primary colours (yellow, blue and red). One of these rose windows (the one facing East) is at the moment undergoing repair work due to some recent storm damage.

I am afraid I can not offer you a photograph of the morning sunlight’s effect of my own taking. Instead I offer you an image that was published by the Diario de Mallorca. Credit is due to the photographer, Señor Lorenzo. Muchas gracias.

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December 2008


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