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

The Gothic Altarpiece

La Seu, Palma’s Cathedral of Light, is always worth a visit. In case you haven’t been back to the Cathedral, you might wish to consider revisiting. Recently, scaffolding was lifted from the Gothic altarpiece mounted above the inside of the Portal des Mirador. A team of art restorers had been busy for months behind tarpaulin cleaning, repairing and re-gilding the Gothic piece which, around 1420, had presumably been created by Llorenç Tosquella the Younger. In its day, this altarpiece formed the major element of the Altar Major like an open cage with the top and the bottom panel of my photo (above) constituting the back and the front of this altarpiece box. During the 18th century, this beautifully carved object was dissembled, moved and stored away. Then, in 1904, Antoni Gaudí rediscovered this masterpiece and elected to put it in its current position during his ten-year stint of re-organising and redecorating Palma’s Cathedral. Since then, the Gothic altarpiece had not been touched, until now.

Treat yourself to some visually stunning piece of Gothic sculpted work. You will be hard pressed to find a better specimen of Mediaeval art anywhere. Mallorca residents can visit the Cathedral anytime free of charge. Non-residents will have to pay 4 € for a visit, entering through the Museu de la Catedral.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 12th, 2011. The time was 10:12:51. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, B. Ramon.

Muchas gracias.

The Gothic Altarpiece

Modernisme

We are lucky here in Mallorca to be surrounded by a large number of buildings in the style of Modernisme, sometimes also called Catalan Modernism. The name is not only applied to architecture but, is a bit of a catch-all for a variety of artistic and cultural manifestations, such as design, pottery, sculpture, etc. Modernisme is often seen as a Catalan equivalent of and parallel to other European fin-de-siècle art movements, such as Symbolism, Decadence, Art Nouveau or Jugendstil. The Modernisme movement spread from the city of Barcelona, and its best-known exponent in architecture was Antoni Gaudí.

In Palma, for instance, we can find the Gran Hotel, the Casasayas building and its twin, the Pensión Menorquina, Can Rey and its neighbouring building, Almacenes El Águila, Can Barceló or the building in today’s photo whose name or architect I was unable to find out for you. The building can be found where the Avenidas meet the Calle 31 de Diciembre. Buildings or cemeteries in the Modernisme style can also be found in other pueblos, such as Sóller, Felanitx, Pollença and Inca.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 24th, 2011. The time was 15:05:01.

Postscript: The building in the photo is called Can Segura and it was constructed in 1908 by Francesc Roca i Simó.

Modernisme

Gaudí’s Amazing Sounding Board

In about 1903-04, or thereabouts, Antoni Gaudí designed an amazing contraption for the main pulpit of Palma’s Cathedral. At the time, microphones, loudspeakers or electric amplifiers were not invented, yet, and the bishop’s sermon could not clearly be followed during church services by all the devoted Mallorcans. The Tornavoz, a sounding board construction, was Gaudí’s answer to the Cathedral’s needs. The acoustic device was installed in 1904 and remained firmly in place until 1971. It was removed because, by then, microphones and loudspeakers could be installed in La Seu (the Cathedral).

The exceptional Catalan architect Gaudí, an artistic genius, worked on the renovation and embellishment of the Palma Cathedral until 1914, when he abandoned the assignment over a disagreement with the commissioning bishop.

A replica of Gaudí’s acoustic amplifier was created just over one year ago and has been on display in La Seu ever since. The replica is only meant to be on view for a temporary period; it may be taken down any time soon.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 5th, 2011. The time was 12:53:58. The photo (bottom) shows Gaudí’s original Tornavoz sounding board. It was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the Govern de les Illes Balears.

Muchas gracias, and

moltes gràcies.

Gaudí’s Amazing Sounding Board

Albert Camus and the Balearic Islands

Albert Camus, French novelist and dramatist, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. Camus was born in Algeria from a French father and a mother of Spanish descent. The mother and the maternal grandmother both were from Menorca, our neighbouring island. Apparently, Camus visited Menorca to connect with his mother’s and grandmother’s roots. Camus also visited Mallorca, where he met his first wife, Simone Hié, then a morphine addict. His stay in Palma in 1935 is captured in the chapter Love of life from his book The Wrong Side and the Right Side. Interesting reading, I would have thought.

If you felt like it, you could retrace Camus’ steps in Palma de Mallorca with a copy of this text in hand, next time the opportunity arises.

In Carrer Llotgeta, you could visit the Bar Flexas. This is not the bar which Camus describes, but there you can see details of a typical bar in Palma’s historic centre around the 1930’s and 40’s.
In Plaça Santa Eulàlia, Carrer Morey and Carrer d’Almudaina, you can see Can Oleo and Can Bordills, both of them possible examples of the courtyards that Camus describes. Keep going until you reach the Cathedral.
La Seu (the Cathedral) is described by Camus in the first of his Notebooks with the comment “bad taste and master workmanship”. I suggest you enter the Cathedral and admire the reform carried out under Antonio Gaudí’s orders, undervalued and harshly criticized at the time.
Return through the narrow streets behind La Seu towards Plaça Sant Francesc and enter the stunning cloisters of the Església de Sant Francesc there.

Enjoy.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 30th, 2010. The time was 17:54:59.

Albert Camus and the Balearic Islands

Can Corbella

Can Corbella is one of Palma’s most original buildings, just down from Plaça Cort, on the corner of Carrer Santo Domingo. Its beauty is simply spellbinding. The late 19th century building does not strictly form part of the Modernism movement but pertains to a style that is known as Neo-Mudéjar or Neo-Moorish. The master builder’s name is Nicolau Lliteras. An existing complex of three buildings was reformed and unified behind a superimposed façade devoid of any structural function whatsoever and completely made of wood. The building takes its name from a pharmacy, Droguería Corbella, which was installed in the building’s ground floor from 1895 until 1985. A branch of a local savings bank occupies the erstwhile chemist’s premises. The building extends over five floors. From the street level, the uppermost floor can not easily be seen as it is slightly set back. On top of it all, an octagonal tower extends over two storeys, reminiscent of Antoni Gaudí‘s earlier work. The horseshoe arched windows on the ground floor are topped with stained glass windows and beautifully painted moldings representing the guild associations of craftsmen and merchants of the end of the 19th century.

A few years ago the building’s interior underwent a significant attempt at modernisation when, sadly, a large number of original features were removed.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 16th, 2010. The time was 12:06:44.

Can Corbella

The Organ in Palma’s Cathedral

The órgano mayor (main organ) in Palma’s Cathedral dates from 1789, was designed by Pere Josep Bosch and was inaugurated in 1797. The instrument has four manual keyboards with 56 notes and a pedal with 30 notes. The organ was restored in 1993. It is one of 21 Mallorcan organs that was declared a Bien de Interés Cultural (Mallorcan Heritage) in 2005. For an acoustic appreciation of the organ’s sound, the video clip (below) gives an interpretation by Bartomeu Manresa of Toccata, Adagio and Fugue – C-Major (BWV 564) by Johann Sebastian Bach, from a concert given November 6th, 2006. For technical details, you can consult the de organis website. Click on the organ’s photo to obtain a pdf download.

Tomorrow, November 11th, is a very special day for La Seu (Palma’s Cathedral), as it is every year on November 11th and on February 2nd. Just before 09h00, a spectacular and awe-inspiring illumination can be watched inside the cathedral, below the stained glass window on the main western front, when the colours of the large roseton window on the eastern front above the altar will display an extraordinary dance of lights and form a perfect figure ‘8’, made-up of the two windows, one underneath the other (not shown in today’s photo). You should not miss this unique sight. Entry to the cathedral will be free tomorrow morning; the gates will open at 08h30. The organ, however, will not be played for the occasion.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 27th, 2010. The time was 11:55:02. The video clip was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of YouTube and BartomeuManresa. Thank you very much and
moltes gràcies.

The Organ in Palma’s Cathedral