The Baliza de sa Punta Plana

I am not quite sure what a Baliza is. From afar it looks just like any old lighthouse. Perhaps a Baliza is a secondary lighthouse of smaller proportions with a shorter reach of signal. Anyway, the Baliza de sa Punta Plana can be found near s’Estanyol de Migjorn (419 inhabitants), not far from Sa Rapita. The small lighthouse is not listed on the Faros de Baleares (Balearic Lighthouses) website, nor is any other smaller lighthouse such as the one in Colònia de Sant Jordi, to give just one more example. But let me quote from that website; there seems to be a classification by focal distance of lighthouse signals:

In the 19th Century, lighthouses were classified into six orders, following the French practice. This classification was based on the focal distance of the lighthouse’s optic; the most powerful were the lighthouses of the 1st Order with 900 mm focal distance optics and the least, those of the 6th Order with much smaller optics of 150 mm of focal distance.

The photos were taken near s’Estanyol de Migjorn, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 24th, 2012. The time was 16:31:28 and 16:28:35, respectively.

The Baliza de sa Punta Plana

The City of Courtyards

There are more than 90 patios (courtyards) to be found around the centre of Palma. Most of them are not open to the public eye, other than perhaps through an iron gate. Some are museums (Palau March), the High Court (Can Berga), cloisters (Basilica de Sant Francesc) or retirement homes for elderly priests (San Pere i San Bernat). Others, such as Can Oleza, Can Sureda or Cal Poeta Colom (photos top and bottom) are private houses and their patios can only be visit in exceptional circumstances. Some patios are occasionally used as the setting for music concerts, mostly of a classical nature.

The origins of Palma’s patios date back to the Roman period, but took on more importance after the Conquista during the 13th century. At the beginning they were modelled in an austere Gothic style, but with the economic prosperity of the 17th and 18th centuries, their architecture became far more elegant and refined in the Renaissance and Baroque styles.

From today, September 3rd, and for a duration of eight weeks the Ayuntamiento de Palma will conduct guided tours of the 33 most iconic courtyards, of which 19 will be toured this month in Palma’s Ciutat Alta and in October, 14 courtyards will be shown in the Ciutat Baixa. Guided tours are available in Catalan, Castellano, English, German, French and Italian. Tours will be held mornings and afternoons from Monday to Friday, plus mornings on Saturday. Admission is 8 €, with a 20% discount for residents, pensioners and groups, whilst youngsters under 11 go free. Check the new website for details. Reservations can be made by telephone (971.724.268).

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 14th, 2008. The time was 10:58:28. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of patisdepalma.es.

Moltes gràcies.

The City of Courtyards

The Torre de Cala Pi

The Torre de Cala Pi is one of three coastal defense towers in the municipality of Llucmajor, together with the Torre de Cap Blanc and the Torre de s’Estelella, and is one of 45 ancient torres on Mallorca’s coastline.

The Torre de Cala Pi guards the entrance to the cove of Cala Pi and stands at about 19.5 m above sea level. The tower was built after several attacks by the Ottoman Turks in 1543 and was completed in 1663. To my knowledge, the tower was never successfully conquered, not by pirates or Maurish marauders, anyway.

The photo was taken in Cala Pi, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 24th, 2012. The time was 17:45:04.

The Torre de Cala Pi

The Palau March in Palma

The Palau March in Palma, near the Cathedral and the Palau de l’Almudaina, belongs to the Fundació Bartolomé March and was built in 1975. Tomeu March was the son of Juan March Ordinas, the founder of Banca March and erstwhile contrabandist, by many considered a crook. As it turns out, his younger son made a career away from the world of finance and became a philantropist, bibliophile, art collector and a generous patron of the arts.

The Fundació Bartolomé March was inaugurated in 2003 as a museum and as a library. The museum owns a collection of scultures by contemporary artists such as Henry Moore, Eduardo Chillida, Max Bill, Barbara Hepworth, Auguste Rodin and others, a collection of maps and portolan charts by Mallorcan cartographers from the 15th and 16th century, a beautiful 18th century nativity scene from Naples composed of 2,000+ pieces (photo bottom), as well as some imposing Mudéjar coffered ceilings (photo centre). It also houses some impressive salons and ceilings designed by Josep Maria Sert with impressive murals by him (photo top). There are also some prints by Salvador Dalí which I don’t consider of great importance.

The museum is certainly worth a visit. Opening hours are Mondays to Fridays, 10h00 to 18h30 (slightly shorter during the Winter months). Admission has gone up to 4.50 €. The library is in the same building but has a separate entrance and also, distinct opening hours: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 09h30 to 14h00, and Tuesdays and Thursdays, 16h00 to 20h00 (slightly shorter during the Summer months; August is closed altogether). The visit to the library is free of charge; admission is granted for the asking.

One more word on palaces in Mallorca. Many stately houses call themselves Palau or Palacio or are called so by the public, such as the Palacete in the case of a former president. But strictly speaking, there are only two palaces in all of Mallorca entitled to that denomination, that of the Spanish king and that of the Mallorcan bishop. So, Palau March is a bit of a misnomer.

The photos were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 7th, 2012. The time was 13:42:30, 14:21:29 and 14:25:26, respectively.

The Palau March in Palma

The Bench of the Lazybones

Outside Palma’s Cort building (Ajuntament de Palma; Palma town hall) there is a beautiful hard stone bench inviting passers-by (and tourists) to sit down and have a break from the rushing around, or seek some shade on a stifling hot day such as yesterday. The bench is commonly called Banc dels vagos (bench of the layabouts) by the locals, or Banc de Sinofos, from the expression si no fos per… (if it weren’t for…), referring to the capital’s affluent heirs who had the means to not be obliged to work. Of course, this mockery originated during the 19th century when plenty of rich layabouts were living in Palma but, the term is still being used today, often in reference to the civil servants working at the town hall.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 1st, 2012. The time was 15:21:46.

The Bench of the Lazybones

The Old Alcúdia Power Station

I wonder if you sometimes are curious about where all the energy comes from that is being consumed here in Mallorca in an ever-increasing rate of mega watts. Yes, you flip the light switch or press a button, but where does the juice actually come from?

The Central Térmica Alcúdia (the old Alcúdia Power Station) near the port of Alcúdia was Mallorca’s main power station from the Sixties to the late Nineties when it was replaced by another plant, called Es Murterar, also in the area of Alcúdia, near the lagoon. The old Alcúdia Power Station was built under Franco in 1957. Electrical energy was produced by way of coal firing, hence its position near the coast. Coal was transported from the Spanish mainland to the Port d’Alcúdia by ship, and still is. The new Es Murterar power plant is also fed with coal.

Currently, there are four thermal power plants on Mallorca, Es Murterar, Son Reus, Cas Tresorer and Son Molinos. Since last year, there is also a connection to the mainland by under-water cable.

Nowadays, the old Alcúdia Power Station is a bit of an eye-sore, especially as it is situated in a rather popular tourist area. A few years ago, a competition was held, designs were drawn up and a winning entry was selected. Plans were approved to convert this power plant into an industrial museum. Of course, there is no money available now for any such fancy plans. I hope the architects, Alonso Hernández y Asociados from Pamplona, got paid for their winning entry (photo bottom).

The photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and Comunicació Endesa (top) and ahasociados.com (bottom).

Muchas gracias.

The Old Alcúdia Power Station

The Capella de Sant Bernat

The Catedral de Mallorca, in Palma, is well worth a visit, not least for the splendour of some of its 15 lateral chapels (there are four more chapels which are not normally accessible, and closed to the public).

I particularly like the altarpiece sculpted by Tòmas Vila in 1921 in the Capella de Sant Bernat, to the right of the Portal del Mirador. Previously, there had been a Baroque altarpiece adorning this chapel by the hand of Francisco de Herrera, but that one was destroyed by a blaze in 1912. The genius of Modernisme, Antoni Gaudí was working on an overhaul of the Cathedral’s interior at the time, and he commissioned a redesign of the Chapel of Saint Bernard. Gaudí abandoned the Cathedral project in 1914, though, due to disagreements with the Cathedral chapter and it was his disciple and assistant, Joan Rubió i Bellver who oversaw and directed the new artistic design of the Capella de Sant Bernat. Behind Tòmas Vila’s altarpiece (photo top) we can admire two stained glass windows designed by Antoni Gaudí in 1903.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 10th, 2012. The time was 12:35:10.

The Capella de Sant Bernat