The Monestir de La Real

The Monestir de Santa María de La Real just to the North of Palma was founded in 1235 by designation of King Jaume I, the Conquistador. From 1265 to 1274, Ramon Llull lived and worked there, studying Latin, philosophy, theology and the law. Here, he wrote his first books, Compendi de la lògica d’Algatzell and Llibre de Contemplació en Déu. These treaties were written in Arabic and only later translated into Catalan. I understand that both manuscripts form part of the library that Llull bequeathed to La Real. I am not sure if or how one can gain access to the Bibliotequa de La Real, said to be one of the most emminent ones on the island but I am sure one could find out.

I do know, however, that one can gain access to the cloisters of that monastery. Although the convent appears closed at all times, visitors can ring the doorbell and will be admitted for brief visits as long as peace and quiet are respected. You should consider an excursion to this spiritual oasis, not far from where you might reside.

The photos were taken near Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 2nd, 2012. The time was 12:57:11 and 13:11:27, respectively.

The Monestir de La Real

The Basilica de Sant Francesc

The Basílica de Sant Francesc is one of the finest church buildings in Mallorca and would probably be the contender for the top spot were it not for the Cathedral.

The church was built in the late 13th century in the Gothic style but later underwent frequent alterations. After lightning struck in the 16th century, its Gothic façade was rebuilt with an impressive Baroque doorway and pediment. Inside, you will find one of Mallorca’s beautiful historical organs created by Jordi Bosch in 1772. There is also the tomb and sepulchre of Ramon Llull, the 13th century mystic.

You can enter the Basilica’s cloisters through the church. They are well worth visiting; you will not find a more peaceful oasis in all of Mallorca. The beautiful claustro has recently been restored. When the church is closed, as it mostly is, you can still enter through the adjoining monastery and its cloisters. The convent is now a secondary school. Admission to the cloisters is 1.50 €, worth every cent.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 30th, 2011. The time was 15:36:15.

The Basilica de Sant Francesc

Beato Ramon Llull

Spain is a country largely influenced by the Catholic church. The impact of religion here may be somewhat diminished when compared to, say, fifty or a hundred years ago, but most children in Spain are still baptized in church, most brides still get married in church and most families still bury their dead in cemeteries following church rites. There’s nothing wrong with that; I am simply stating a reality, even though the trend is one of slow decline.

You may be interested to know, then, that today, November 27th, the Catholic church celebrates a total of 27 saints, amongst them persons such as San Acario de Noyón, San Basileo, Beato Bernardino de Fossa, Santa Bilhildis, Beato Bronislao Kostowski, San Eusicio, San Jacobo Interciso, San Laverio, San Leonardo and San Primitivo. The one I am most interested in is Beato Ramon Llull (Raymundus Lullus). This Mallorcan born writer, philosopher, hermit, martyr and missionary also was a Tertiary Franciscan, and the founder of a seminary college which, in turn and through the centuries, turned into the UIB University in Palma. Ramon Llull was beatified, blessed and sanctified in 1857 by Pope Pius IX.

Palma’s UIB university uses Ramon Llull as their patron figure and as such, celebrates November 27th as a special festive day in honour of the great man. As this day falls on a Sunday this year, festivities will be celebrated tomorrow, November 28th, instead. I understand that no lectures will be given tomorrow and no classes will be held either.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of Wikipedia.org. Thank you very much.

Beato Ramon Llull

Rumpus And Radar On The Puig de Randa

The small village of Randa sits comfortably at the foot of the Puig de Randa mountain (543 m) but, seems slightly bothered by Mallorca’s largest installation of Radar and other antennas disfiguring the flat top like a set of badly fitted dentures. The aggressive fixtures are quite a contrast to the Randa mountain’s three monasteries, the Santuario de Nostra Senyora de Gràcia, the Ermita de Sant Honorat and, at its summit, the Santuario de Nostra Senyora de Cura.

We went to Randa yesterday for a walk, in the pleasant company of friends, parked the car in the small pueblo and set off in gorgeous Autumn sun to conquer the elevation, for the first time ever on foot. Strolling past the Rentadors (washer women’s troughs) and Sa Font (water channels and well), we left Randa behind us and soon enough found the age-old donkey trail on the other side of a metal gate marked with a green dot. In less than thirty minutes, the path took us to the first of the three monasteries, Gràcia, this one being the only one of the three on this mountain not inhabited by monks any longer. Noise from the kitchen suggested that a meal was being prepared, though, possibly for a family feast such as a birthday, a communion or a wedding. The Oratorio (church) was open; even though I must have been up here 20 times over the last 30 years, it was never open before when I passed by, so in we all went. Of the three churches on this small mountain, this one is the most alluring by far, having been lovingly restored some 45 years ago.

It took us another 20 minutes or so to reach Sant Honorat. I believe this hermitage is still being used by monks or retired priests, but, we met none. Instead, there were two or three groups busy with Yoga exercises, reunions or New Age gatherings, creating relative rumpus for what I understood to be a place of solitude and silence. Still, a gorgeous place in a peaceful setting, affording stunning views over the beauty of Mallorca’s landscape with the sea and Cabrera in the distance.

The walk took us to the top of the Puig and the plateau of Cura. We must have met a dozen or more motorcycles, two dozen cyclists and only a handful of hikers such as ourselves before we got to the top. Halfway there, we spotted the seared and scorched area of woodland and Garriga (shrubs) where a fire had raged only a few days ago. The Santuario de Cura had to be evacuated last Wednesday as a preventive measure, but, was back in full swing and as busy as you could imagine when we arrived there two hours after having set off from Randa. I had been here on many occasions and had never liked the huge golf ball-shaped Radar monster but, this time, arriving on foot, it troubled me more than ever. What a spoil for an otherwise heavenly place.

The walk took us two hours for the 5 km on the way up, including visits to the two monasteries, and just under an hour on the way down for the same route but, without the two visits. We were lucky with the weather. Temperatures were around the 25° C but, the wind chill factor was quite severe on top of the Puig. An alternative circular route is suggested on Wikiloc.com (wikiloc/825814) just this side of 8 km with a length of a little under 6 hours. See which one you might prefer.

The photos were taken near Randa, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 15th, 2011. The time was 13:25:40 and 14:13:51, respectively.

Rumpus And Radar On The Puig de Randa

The Studium Generale Lullianum

The making of a university in Mallorca has been in the works for the best of 735 years.

Ramon Llull, Mallorca’s wunderkind, philosopher, poet, theologian and mystic, founded the Col·legi de Miramar in Mallorca in 1276, in a way a predecessor of today’s Universitat de les Illes Balears. All those years ago, the Col·legi de Miramar was one of the first centres of study and research anywhere in Europe.

In 1483, a royal privilege was granted by King Fernando II to set up the Studium Generale Lullianum in Palma de Mallorca, based on Llull’s academic approach, as a centre of higher education. In 1691, the Studium Generale Lullianum was converted into the Universitat Lul·liana de Mallorca, with statutes approved in 1697. After a spell of anti-Llullism, the university was renamed in 1772 as Universitat Literària de Mallorca, and in 1829, it was affiliated to the Universitat Catalana de Cervera (Catalonia).

Then, in 1951, the Studium Generale Lullianum was revived and the Llullian university restored. For several years, courses were held in Law and Philosophy, albeit somewhat restricted for economic reasons. In 1959, the Ramon Llull Chair was established in Mallorca, appointed to the Faculty of Philosophy at the Universitat de Barcelona, where doctorates could be obtained. At the same time, highly popular summer courses were held in the field of Humanities, in later years being extended to other branches of science.

After the death of the autocrat Franco and with Spain’s transition to democracy, the current Universitat de les Illes Balears was founded in 1978, in a climate which was helped by the economic affluence that the growth of tourism had brought with it.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 27th, 2010. The time was 14:01:17.

The Studium Generale Lullianum

Ramon Llull And The Inquisition

Ramon Llull (1232-1315) was a Mallorcan writer, philosopher and mystic. He is considered to be one of the most influential authors in the Catalan language. Some even say that he established the Catalan language in its written form.

Although Llull was busy spreading the gospel, trying to convert North-African heathens to Christianity, the Catholic Church did not always see eye to eye with their devoted missionary. During the period of the Spanish Inquisición (1478-1821), Llull posthumously suffered various accusations at the hands of Nicola Eimeric (Nicholas Eymerich), chief inquisitor for Aragón in 1357. Mallorca and thus Llull’s work belonged to the Corona de Aragón at that time. Eimeric accused Llull of heresy and prosecuted and banned a number of the writer’s works (photo bottom).

I’m telling you all that because a papal commission held a conference in Rome a few days ago, the Pontifical Antonianum Ateno, concerning itself with the figure of Ramon Llull. A book was published as a result of the commission’s findings called Da Raimondo Lullo a Nicola Eimeric. Storia di una falsificazione testuale e dotrinale, in which the inquisitor was accused of falsification of documents. The Mallorcan philosopher was thus vindicated of any heretic wrong-doing or dissent.

You can now be at ease when visiting Miramar, between Valldemossa and Deià, where Llull had spent a number of years after he had founded a monastery and centre for the study of oriental languages there, in 1276 (photo top). Miramar is open during the winter months daily (except Sundays) from 09h00 to 17h00, and during the summer months daily (except Sundays) from 10h00 to 18h00. Admission is granted at a price of 3 €.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken was taken near Valldemossa, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 6th, 2009. The time was 17:18:50. The image (bottom) shows an excerpt of Llull’s Ars Magna and was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of Wikipedia.com. Thank you very much.

Ramon Llull And The Inquisition

Palma’s Sa Calatrava District

Do you know the district of Sa Calatrava in Palma’s upper old town? The barrio can be found in the immediate neighbourhood of the Call, Palma’s old Jewish quarters. In the old days, Sa Calatrava used to be occupied by tanners who were known as Calatravins, hence the name. Some tanneries still survive to this day.

Let’s go for a stroll. We start off from Plaça Sant Francesc, where we find the statue of Junípero Serra in a slightly disreputable posture with a young native Mexican boy. Don’t neglect to enter the church and monastery of Sant Francesc, dating back to 1281-86. Inside, there is the imposing tomb of Ramon Llull, amongst many other marvels. If the church should be closed you can gain entrance through the adjoining Collegi de Sant Francesc (admission 2 €) to enjoy the beautiful cloisters of the Basilica de Sant Francesc, a hidden oasis within the confines of a metropolitan city.

On leaving Sant Francesc and the cloisters, let’s head down Carrer Ramon Llull. We pass the Casa de Cultura on our way to the Plaça del Pes de la Palla, and at the bottom of the road, the Castell dels Templers (Castillo de los Templarios). During the Moorish period, this complex was known as the Almudaina de Gumara. The building supposedly is Spain’s oldest domestic building continuously inhabited ever since it was built.

We continue to the Plaça Port d’es Camp, the charming Plaça Santa Fe, the newly reconditioned Bastió del Princep, the Carrer Calatrava, the Carrer de Can Serra with the historic Banys Arabs, the Carrer de la Portella and the Museo de Mallorca (currently closed for major building works).

A stroll through Sa Calatrava would be best undertaken equipped with a guidebook. The best one for this tour would be Walking Tours Around the Historical Centre of Palma (Ajuntament de Palma, 1994), now sadly out of print in its English edition, but still available in Catalan and Castilian.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 31st, 2010. The time was 14:50:19.

Palma’s Sa Calatrava District