The Choice is Yours

Guardia de Honor Palma de Mallorca 2

Mallorca is quite a unique island, really. Here, everyone can find what makes him (or her) happy, be it the long beach or the solitary cove, the old town of Palma and its exciting history of 2000 years, the wilderness of the Tramuntana mountain range, the encounter with the past in Chopin’s Valldemossa, the fortified rock castles, the picturesque beauty of the almond blossom season, the intriguingly hooded Easter processions or the dramatic alpine roads, equally attractive to motorists, motorcyclists and competitive cyclists.

Es Calderer Sant Joan Mallorca

The market days in the pueblos of the island center are just as alluring as the festivities celebrating the wine harvest, the Melon Festival, the correfoc fire runs or the annual animal blessings. Only recently, Palma de Mallorca was named by an English Sunday newspaper as the most attractive city of all in terms of the standard of living. In Mallorca, there is so much to visit and even more to discover. The island offers a vast variety of gastronomic delights, from roast lamb or paella to the roast suckling pig or the thick hot chocolate. The range of restaurants, tapas lounges and beach bars is vast; the agony of choice sometimes turns a simple task into a daunting affair.

Badhia de Alcúdia Mallorca

Mallorca is said to have 254 beaches, 171 monasteries and hermitages, 57 wineries, 301 km of trail of the dry stone route (GR 221), 6,000 years of populated History, 228 sundials, 17 bird sanctuary areas, 6 nature reserves, 300 days of sunshine, 2,922 restaurants, 1,538 cafeterias and 3,064 bars, 53 municipalities, 54 mountains with an altitude of more than 1000 m, 16 lighthouses, 52 defense towers and 157 courtyards in Palma alone. Fortunate is he who has a vehicle at his disposal to find what makes him happy.

Far de Porto Pi, Palma de Mallorca 2

If you need a rental car for your trip to explore the island, you might want to examine the rates of Carhire-Mallorca. There, you will be given the best rental prices for a first class car hire service. The choice can be yours without the agony.

The Choice is Yours

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.

Enjoy.

The Balearic Constitution Day

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 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 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

The Sa Calobra Canyon

The Sa Calobra Canyon, also known as the Torrent de Pareis Gorge, must be one of the island’s most dramatic landscapes and is one of Mallorca’s two Natural Monuments. Friends of ours wanted to go there for a walk yesterday and were most surprised when we told them that it would be well worth visiting but would, indeed, be a very testing hike or trek, and not to be underestimated. We advised them not to overestimate their skills and rather enter the canyon from the seaside, trying to get up into the gorge as far as they could and to turn back when the going got too tough.

Luckily, our friends heeded our advice and set off with sturdy walking boots, a plentiful supply of water, the mobile phone charged up and a digital camera for the scenic views en route. They went through Inca and admired the drive up past the terraced landscape of the Tramuntana mountains, turned left on top in the direction of Sóller and turned right past the aqueduct in the direction of Sa Calobra. They were most impressed by the 12 km long serpentine route and by the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea when they got down to Sa Calobra. They found the beach, had a swim, walked to the mouth of the canyon and began the hike. The trek was far from an easy Sunday afternoon stroll but, was just this side of too demanding. After about an hour the path was blocked by some boulders of perhaps 3 metres in height and they decided that it was time to head back. I am glad they did. They went back for another refreshing swim in the gorgeous sea before they headed back for Inca where they treated themselves to some excellent fish (Cap Roig [scorpion fish], at 50 € per kg).

When they returned home they stated categorically that they wanted to live here as well. They had seen Mallorca at its best.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Escorca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 7th, 2008. The time was 15:58:08. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com and Guacamoliest.

Thank you very much.

The Sa Calobra Canyon

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