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

Ca’n Oms

Palma de Mallorca is a city of patios (inner courtyards). All courtyards were open to the street until the beginning of mass tourism in the second half of the twentieth century. Passers-by in the street used to be allowed to enter any patio and help themselves to some water to quench their thirst, a custom that is not adhered to nowadays any longer.

I did another patio tour yesterday, this time covering Palma Alta. One of the dozen or so patios we visited was Ca’n Oms.

During the 16th century, Hug de Berard Palou was the owner of Ca’n Oms, the house shown here. In his time, he occupied various important political positions and is best known for recovering the Archipelago of Cabrera from the Saracens. For this accomplishment, Felipe II granted him a title of nobility. In 1642, his descendants sold Ca’n Oms to Jerònim Doms. His family used Ca’n Oms during the 17th and 18th centuries as their Palma residence. In the 19th century, one of his descendants married Ignacio Truiols Vilallonga of the Marquises de la Torre family who owned Ca’n Oms until 1982 when the Ajuntament de Palma bought the property.

The Ajuntament de Palma offers a boring looking website which on second glance offers a wealth of information about some 60 patios and their historical relevance.

The photos were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 16th, 2012. The time was 12:08:01 and 11:46:57, respectively.

Ca’n Oms

Palma Patios

A new private enterprise has been given the task of organizing tours of the historic patios (courtyards) in Palma. I went on one of the tours last Saturday, given in Castellano, and I can only give full marks to the service provided. The guided tours are offered in Castellano, Catalan, English and German. Two tours are available: Palma Alta, the area around and behind the Cathedral, and Palma Baixa, the area to the West and to the North of the Passeig des Born. The programme will continue until the end of June.

Here is the schedule for the next two weeks: Friday, June 15th, Palma Baixa (English or German); Saturday, June 16th, Palma Alta. (Catalan or Castellano); Friday, June 22nd, Palma Alta. (English or German); Saturday, June 23rd, Palma Baixa (Catalan or Castellano); Friday, June 29th, Palma Baixa (English or German); Saturday, June 30th, Palma Alta (Catalan or Castellano). Meeting place is the Típika shop in Plaça Santa Eulàlia. Tickets are sold at 10 € (8 € for Palma residents). Tours start at 10h30. You can make reservations by telephone (971.728.983). You will see Palma in a completely new way after such a guided patio tour, I promise.

The photos were taken in and near Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 2nd and June 9th, 2012. The time was 12:57:11 and 10:59:11, respectively.

Palma Patios

Corpus Christi Concerts in Palma

Next Sunday, June 10th, the Spring festivity of Corpus Christi will be celebrated in Mallorca. Between now and then, ten concerts will be held in some of the city’s emblematic courtyards, such as in Can Oms, Palau March, Misericòrdia, Can Berga or the Estudi General Lul·lià.

Tonight at 21h00, for instance, a concert will be given by the Cor del Teatre Principal at the Claustre de Sant Francesc. The setting is absolutely stunning and even better, entrance admission is free, tonight as well as for all the remaining concerts. Next Sunday, the last concert of the series will be given by the Orchestra Simfònica de les Illes Balears in the Pati de l’Almudaina, also at 21h00, opposite Palma’s Cathedral.

More information about the remaining concerts on June 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th can be found here.

Tickets for the concerts can be obtained Monday to Friday from 09h30 to 13h30 at PICH, Carrer de l’Almudaina 9A, or one hour before the start of the concert at the venue of the day.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 1st, 2012. The time was 18:20:11. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of tourmandu.com.

Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

Corpus Christi Concerts in Palma

The Courtyard Of The Montesión College

Sadly, some of the nicest courtyards in Palma de Mallorca are not accessible to the public, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Take for instance the patio (courtyard) of the Colegio de Nuestra Señora de Montesión. You can get in there if you happen to be a student of that Jesuit secondary school, or a teacher, neither of which I am. Thus, I was only once able to enter that courtyard a number of years ago. Then, there was a concert going on, hence the red carpet and the chairs in the photo (above). I have since tried on numerous occasions to gain entrance for the sole purpose of taking a better photograph, but to no avail. The building dates from the early 17th century and the patio retains some of the original features such columns, arches, a well and so forth. Last Summer, I was told that another concert would be held soon on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the foundation of that institution, but, I either missed that event or it has not happened yet. In any case, here’s my photo (above) as well as a slightly better one from the Montesión‘s page on Facebook.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 7th, 2004. The time was 20:40:53. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of Facebook.com and the Antiguos Alumnos del Colegio Montesión.

Thank you very much, and

Muchas gracias.

The Courtyard Of The Montesión College

Mediterranean Terracotta Jars

Ceramics have always played a great part in Mallorca’s day-to-day life. Earthenware pots, jars, urns, vessels, tubes, roof tiles, floor tiles, bowls, crockery, plates, lamps and cooking vessels have been fired in Mallorca for hundreds of years, in large wood-fired kilns. Every pueblo to speak of used to have its own Teulera (ceramic kiln) or Ceramica (ceramic workshop), although, in this day and age, ceramic production is somewhat on a decline here on the island.

The Terracotta jars in today’s photo are not typical for Mallorca. They were probably imported from the mainland, most likely from the Murcia area or from Andalucía. Traditionally, those large bellied jars or urns used to be kept for the storage of oil, wine or water. The Romans brought these kind of pots with them, as did the Phoenicians and the Moors. Now and then, you will find lorries on the roadsides of Mallorcan villages having come from the mainland with an assortment of ceramic and other treasures. You may be totally ripped off as likely as you might be able to strike a bargain. It all depends on your luck, your blue eyes or your language abilities. Don’t be shy to negotiate a deal.

The photo was taken in Santanyí, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 27th, 2011. The time was 13:30:04.

Mediterranean Terracotta Jars

Waning Moon, Crescent

The waning moon is entering its last quarter today, October 30th. The crescent moon is quite an important symbol in Mallorcan life by way of Mallorcan heraldry. Over the centuries, coats of arms and other armorial bearings have frequently made use of the crescent moon. Ramon Llull may have been the first nobleman to utilise the half moon shape in his crest (one crescent) here on this island, but other Mallorcan families of nobility followed suite, such as the Verí family (three crescents), the Berga family (five crescents, see photo), the Zaforteza family (nine crescents), the Burgues family (twelve crescents) and many others more. Before the crescent moon was used in Mallorcan family coats of arms, it had been used in heraldry of the kingdom of Aragón.

A very nice book on heraldry, family crests and matters of nobility in Mallorca has been re-published by La Foradada (Nobiliario Mallorquín, Joaquin María Bover, Castellano only). If you are more into the Internet than books, you might want to consult this website (Castellano only).

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 14th, 2010. The time was 13:1:27.

Waning Moon, Crescent