One of the nicest courtyards anywhere in Mallorca has to be the patio of the Monasterio de Sant Bernat de la Real (Monastir de La Real). The problem is that the cloisters are very rarely open to the public. I once had a chance to attend a concert that was given in the monastery’s claustro (cloisters), a few years ago. It proved a rather splendid experience. Then, about a year ago, I simply sneaked into La Real to take a few photos (see photo above) whilst some building work was being carried out in the monastery. The columns were reconditioned, arches were restored, the roofing was relaid and new lighting was installed. As it happens, the reforma is now completed and a grand opening was celebrated the other night (see photo below). Sadly, I was not invited.
The La Real monastery is notorious not only for its splendid cloisters but also, during the last few years, for the controversy that has surrounded this monastery and its new neighbous. Palma’s new hospital, Son Espases, is encroaching on the monastery’s territory or so it would seem. The monastery was built in 1239 or thereabouts when the Ciutat de Palma was quite some distance away, in fact, miles and miles away. But the city of Palma has grown since the Middle Ages and seems to be increasing in size and expansion by the day. The new hospital is less than an earshot away and, frankly, quite intrusive as far as the viewpoint from the monastery must be concerned.
To alleviate matters, the Consell de Mallorca recently announced that the protected zoning surrounding the Monastir de la Real will be increased from 27 to 133 hectares. This may amount to not more than a PR exercise, now that not only Son Espases will intrude in the peace and tranquility of the rural quietness of La Real, but also a substantial amount of four-lane traffic, flyovers, roundabouts and by-passes and, possibly, a new Metro underground station. Life will not be the same ever again for the Cistercian monks of La Real, nor for the neighbours living in the area, nor for Palma or for anyone else, really. Is this the price we all will have to pay in the name of progress? Or is society just too ignorant and foolish to protect and preserve what is left of our cultural heritage?
The statue, by the way, is of Ramon Llull, the Mallorcan writer, theologist and philosopher. Llull is said to have lived at La Real between 1265 and 1269 where, apparently, he wrote some of his main works. In his last will and testament, Llull bequeathed his library to this monastery. The statue in his honour was given a face-lift as well, during the last twelve months.
The photo (top) was taken near Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 7th, 2009. The time was 13:37:30. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet courtesy of diariodemallorca.es.