The Balearic Constitution Day

Almudaina Palma Mallorca_

Spain is politically organized into a total of 17 comunidades autónomas (autonomous communities), plus 2 ciudades autónomas (autonomous cities), Ceuta and Melilla. The Balearic Islands are one of the 17 autonomous communities having been accorded such status thirty-two years ago today, on March 1st, 1983.

Every year, the Día de les Illes Balears is commemorating the Estatuto de Autonomia Balear (Statute of Balearic Autonomy), or, in other words, the Constitution giving the legislative framework for regional law making. A range of festivities will be held today in Palma and elsewhere, and have already been held for two or three days. In celebration of Balearic Autonomy, March 1st is a public holiday, but this year the holiday happens to coincide with a Sunday. Oh, well.

Each of the four main islands organises a number of festive and institutional events on this day. For Mallorca, a PDF file with the programme of activities can be downloaded in Catalan from the Govern de les Illes Balears website.

Activities include a Trofeu de tir de fona tournament at Sant Carles, Open Doors at the seat of the President of the Govern de les Illes Balears at the Consolat de Mar, Open Doors at the newly restored Llotja, Open Doors at Castell de Bellver and Palau de l’Almudaina, Open Doors at nearly all the museums and galleries in Palma and the rest of the island, such as Es Baluard in Palma, Museu de Son Marroig in Deià, Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober near Alcúdia, Ciutat Romana de Pol·lèntia in Alcúdia, plus a few things more, too numerous to mention here.


The Balearic Constitution Day

Fra Juníper Serra, the Mallorcan Missionary

Fra Juníper Serra was born in the village of Petra on November 24th, 1713. Padre Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25th, 1988.

Mallorca is currently busy preparing commemorative acts for his tricentennial birthday, next year. Padre Serra left his natal Mallorca age 36 as a Franciscan missionary for the “New Spain” in Mexico and never returned to his native island. In the Americas, he founded missions in Alta California such as San Diego de Alcalá, San Gabriel Arcángel, San Francisco de Asís, and San Juan Capistrano, which eventually would become the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.

Amongst a number of projects, a cinema film is presently in a phase of preproduction, launched by the Mallorca Film Commission, in collaboration with the Cluster Audiovisual de Baleares and the Mallorcan IB3 television channel, aiming to portray on-screen the life and vocation of the Mallorcan missionary. Let’s hope they can raise the finance. Michael Douglas once said, years ago, that he would be interested in bringing Juníper Serra’s biography to the screen.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 7th, 2012. The time was 15:11:01. The photo (bottom) was added as a postscript. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 22nd, 2012. The time was 12:40:00.

Fra Juníper Serra, the Mallorcan Missionary

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 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 and Comunicació Endesa (top) and (bottom).

Muchas gracias.

The Old Alcúdia Power Station

The Carthusian Apothecary

When the Kingdom of Mallorca ceased to exist, the royal palace Palau del Rei Sanç in Valldemossa was ceded to the church and in 1399 it was transformed into a Carthusian monastery known as Cartoixa de Valldemossa. The monks were forced to relinquish the monastery after just over 400 years when the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizabal dispossessed a large number of church properties in 1835. The property passed into private ownership shortly before Frederik Chopin and George Sand arrived in the Winter of 1838. Today the Cartoixa serves as a museum, not least for its association with King Sancho and Chopin. Amongst many intriguing aspects of the Cartoixa I would like to highlight the old apothecary shop or pharmacy. The pharmacy was installed by the monks during the 17th century. Old bottles, potions, balances and medicinal instruments of the period are well-preserved, including some 135 ceramic jars from the 18th century (see photo).

The photo was taken in Valldemossa, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 17th, 2012. The time was 12:59:22.

The Carthusian Apothecary

Dead as a Dodo

The Museu de Mallorca is a national museum and as such comes under the responsibility of the Directorio de Museos y Colecciones de España, a department of the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, a ministry of the Gobierno de España, the Spanish Government.

The museum in Palma is in a 16th century mansion popularly known as Casa de la Gran Cristiana, not far from the bishop’s palace, somewhere behind the Cathedral. Don’t go there because you will find that the place is closed for the public and access has been unavailable for five years now. You could say that the place is dead as a dodo, totally unrelated to the current economic crisis. You would think that instead one could at least consult the website of the museum and would find information there. But no, that one is dead as well. None of the site’s links function, with only one exception. The last update was made in 2006, it seems.

You would normally find some interesting archaeological finds at the Museu de Mallorca, pertaining to the island’s Talayotic period, the Roman era as well as the Islamic phase and the Mediaeval history. The museum normally also houses some fine art from the 15th to the 20th century, plus a collection of books and documents.

If you have followed events on this MDPB you might be aware that some museum pieces are now on temporary display at the Centre de Cultura SA NOSTRA, in Calle Concepción. That one is well worth a visit but, if you have ever been to the Museu de Mallorca, don’t expect to find more than a mere fragment of its exhibits at the SA NOSTRA exhibition.

The Museu de Mallorca has a secondary building in Muro: an ethnological section, where some of the every-day-objects on display relate to Mallorca before the age of tourism. There is a further museum branch in Alcúdia: a Roman archaeology section, known as the Museu Monogràfic de Pollença, showing remnants found at the Roman city of Pollentia. I would recommend visits to those museum offshoots as well, should you be in the area and should you be so inclined.

The photos were chosen from my archive. They were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 18th, 2004. The time was 13:34:43 and 13:28:42, respectively.

Dead as a Dodo

Walking on Ice

An art exhibition was opened last week at Sa Llotja in Palma. I did not go to the opening. I never go to openings; I make it my habit to go the next day, or a few days later, to have my encounter with the artwork and the artist’s ambitions in peace and on my own, unfettered by the art circuit crowd who sees openings as a social event where it is important to be seen at the right place with the right people and where the art on show usually comes second, if that.

The exhibition is by Mallorcan artist, Bernardí Roig, and is called Walking on Faces. It felt a bit like Walking on Ice to me, because, believe me, it is one thing to look at the portrait of a person, and quite a different sensation to walk straight over it. As it were, we were invited to walk over close to 2,000 faces, because that is the number of participants in that project, all people from and residents in or visitors to Palma last April.

Apart from a certain hesitation of trampling upon other people’s vulnerability, I don’t really know what to think of Señor Roig’s artistic inclinations. It may be a bit of a flat idea in more ways than one. But, hey, let me also say one thing: I have been to some 30 art exhibitions at Sa Llotja over the last 25 years. And for sure, none of the previous artists paid as much homage to and showed as much respect for this Gothic location by the hand of a genius, Guillem Sagrera (1380-1456), as has done Bernardí Roig, and I would applaud him for that.

The Mediaeval trade exchange was closed for three years for some extensive restoration work. Since it has been reopened, the place was only open for a couple of days to be shown and presented in its new glory. Then an art installation was presented last year, Llaüts Light, by Fabricio Plessi. The installation was fabulous but one could see nothing of the building’s splendid interior as the setting was all dark and blue. After that show, the Llonja was closed again, until now. I would recommend a visit to the Walking on Faces exhibition for two reasons: go, if you are interested in one of the finest buildings in Palma, in fact, in all of Mallorca. And go, if you should have presented yourself as one of the 1,878 faces participating. It sure is a nice feeling to be part of a larger project in such a prime location. You may have to spend quite some time before you find your portrait, but if you do, your face will light up, I am sure of that. If none of the above applies, go anyway. Walking on thousands of largely anonymous identities is perhaps part of the creative project of this exhibition. If nobody goes and treads on the faces, no wear and tear will occur and perhaps that deterioration is needed before one can see more than the flatness that is so obvious at this moment in time.

The photos were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 10th, 2012. The time was 19:46:02 and 19:50:49, respectively.

Walking on Ice