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

The Instituto

One of the outstanding historic buildings in Palma’s Avenidas is a place commonly known as the Instituto. After the demolition of Palma’s city walls and the subsequent extension of the city’s boundaries around 1909, this building complex was constructed between 1912 and 1916 to house the former Instituto Balear, an educational institution founded in 1836. Actually, it is considered the first centre for education in all of Spain where the Bachillerato could be taken, a qualification similar to the French Bachiller. For almost one hundred years, the Instituto was the only place for higher education in all of Mallorca, soon being chosen by Palma’s liberal citizens and bourgeoisie to send their children to study. After 1936, the Instituto was renamed as Instituto Ramon Llull. The school for Secondary Education is now called IES Ramon Llull, IES standing for Instituto Educació Secundària. It is still considered to be one of the better schools in Mallorca, though it now has some competition.

The building is situated between Sa Riera, the torrente, and the Plaza del Instituto, commonly known as Plaza del Tubo, in reference to a controversial sculpture which was placed there in 1983. Apart from the secondary school, the building complex accommodates in its wing nearest to Sa Riera parts of the Universidad de las Illes Balears (UIB). The wing leading away from the Avenidas, in Plaza del Tubo, houses one of the Bibliotecas Municipales de Palma, as well as, further back, the Escola d’Arts Aplicades i Oficis Artístics (Centre for Applied Arts).

The statue on the reproduction of a postcard (below) is one representing Ramon Llull. This statue has long since been moved to a solitary place in the schoolyard, away from the public eye. I think that is rather a shame.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 14th, 2010. The time was 14:49:34. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of nosolohd.com and Mike Blueberry.

Muchas gracias.

The Instituto

The Seven Pillars of Science

If ever you have visited Ramon Llull’s tomb, inside the Basilica de Sant Francesc in Palma de Mallorca, you may have found yourself confronted with seven beautifully carved pieces of stone pillar, representing the seven pillars of Science, according to the Mediaeval thinker and gnostic. Llull published his theorem in his book La Doctrina pueril (1274-1276).

Llull defined the sciences as the seven liberal arts of the trivium (grammar, dialectic, rhetoric) and of the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy).

You will find equally beautiful stone carvings, depicting the same seven branches of science on the façade of the Centre Cultural Espai Ramon Llull in Carrer Ramon Llull, just a few metres down from the Sant Francesc church. Shown in my photo (above) is the depiction of Arithmetica, but the other six carvings are equally artistic.

In case you would like to read more about Ramon Llull and some of his thoughts and theorems, I would recommend a visit to a very useful website where you will be enlightened in Catalan, Castellano, English, German, French or even Italian. The information there is provided by the Centre de Documentació Ramon Llull of the Universitat de Barcelona, just in case you wondered.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 13th, 2010. The time was 10:49:24.

The Seven Pillars of Science

The Monasterio de la Real

One of the nicest courtyards anywhere in Mallorca has to be the patio of the Monasterio de Sant Bernat de la Real (Monastir de La Real). The problem is that the cloisters are very rarely open to the public. I once had a chance to attend a concert that was given in the monastery’s claustro (cloisters), a few years ago. It proved a rather splendid experience. Then, about a year ago, I simply sneaked into La Real to take a few photos (see photo above) whilst some building work was being carried out in the monastery. The columns were reconditioned, arches were restored, the roofing was relaid and new lighting was installed. As it happens, the reforma is now completed and a grand opening was celebrated the other night (see photo below). Sadly, I was not invited.

The La Real monastery is notorious not only for its splendid cloisters but also, during the last few years, for the controversy that has surrounded this monastery and its new neighbous. Palma’s new hospital, Son Espases, is encroaching on the monastery’s territory or so it would seem. The monastery was built in 1239 or thereabouts when the Ciutat de Palma was quite some distance away, in fact, miles and miles away. But the city of Palma has grown since the Middle Ages and seems to be increasing in size and expansion by the day. The new hospital is less than an earshot away and, frankly, quite intrusive as far as the viewpoint from the monastery must be concerned.

To alleviate matters, the Consell de Mallorca recently announced that the protected zoning surrounding the Monastir de la Real will be increased from 27 to 133 hectares. This may amount to not more than a PR exercise, now that not only Son Espases will intrude in the peace and tranquility of the rural quietness of La Real, but also a substantial amount of four-lane traffic, flyovers, roundabouts and by-passes and, possibly, a new Metro underground station.  Life will not be the same ever again for the Cistercian monks of La Real, nor for the neighbours living in the area, nor for Palma or for anyone else, really. Is this the price we all will have to pay in the name of progress? Or is society just too ignorant and foolish to protect and preserve what is left of our cultural heritage?

The statue, by the way, is of Ramon Llull, the Mallorcan writer, theologist and philosopher. Llull is said to have lived at La Real between 1265 and 1269 where, apparently, he wrote some of his main works. In his last will and testament, Llull bequeathed his library to this monastery. The statue in his honour was given a face-lift as well, during the last twelve months.

The photo (top) was taken near Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 7th, 2009. The time was 13:37:30. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet courtesy of diariodemallorca.es.

Muchas gracias.

The Monasterio de la Real

Another Word On Ramon Llull

Ramon Llull (Raymond Lully) is to Catalan written works what Shakespeare is to English, Dante to Italian, and Goethe to German literature. Llull zealously dedicated his writings to an idealistic cause, the peaceful conversion of Muslims and Jews to Christianity through logic and reason. To this end, he elaborated distinct, beautiful, and irrefutable philosophical ideas. He could write equally well in Latin, Catalan or Arabic. Llull petitioned to have the Monasterio de Miramar between Valldemossa and Deià established in 1276 as a missionary academy teaching Arabic and Catalan to Mallorcan monks, preparing them in their endeavours to convert Moors to the Catholic faith.

Ramon Llull’s tomb in Palma’s Església de Sant Francesc is illuminated by an impressive stained glass window adorned with the Llullian crest of arms, the single half moon (see photo).

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 13th, 2010. The time was 10:39:10.

Another Word On Ramon Llull

Looking At Miramar

Around 1255, Ramon Llull tutored the young prince Jaume II de Aragon and later served him as his seneschal (major-domo). After the prince became King of Mallorca in 1276, Llull proposed to him the setting up of a missionary school at Miramar, dedicated to the teaching of Arabic and other oriental languages, for the purpose of converting the local Moors to Christianity. Llull spent three years in Miramar, where he taught 12 friars and wrote some of his major books. Some people consider Miramar as something like Mallorca’s first university. 200 years later, Mallorca’s first printing press was set up there, and Mallorca’s first printed books were published at Miramar in 1457.

The Monestir de Miramar is situated halfway between Valldemossa and Deià. The Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria bought this historic property in 1872 after falling in love with the scenery of Mallorca’s Northwest. According to the Arxiduc, “no other place on earth deserves with more reason the name of Miramar” (translated from ‘Die Balearen‘).

Today, Miramar is open to the public as a museum dedicated to both, Ramon Llull and the Austrian Archduke. Some Gothic cloister arches which are said to originate from the Convent de Santa Margalida in Palma de Mallorca (see photo) can be admired there. Miramar is open Tuesday to Sunday (10h00-17h00); entry admission is 3 €.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Valldemossa, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 16th, 2008. The time was 14:43:01.

Looking At Miramar

Ramon Llull’s Cave

cova_ramon_llull

The Santuari Mare de Déu de Cura is a monastery located on top of the Randa mountain in the municipality of Algaida. It is considered an eminently Llullian site (Ramon Llull, ca. 1232-1316). Access to the sanctuary grounds is through a large portal. In the middle of its pediment is the coat-of-arms of the Franciscan order and above it, the Llullian crest of a half-moon. Below the coat-of-arms is an inscription reproducing a verse from Ramon Llull’s work Blanquerna: “Amable fill, saluda Nostra Dona, qui és salut e benedicció nostra” (Amiable son, greet Our Lady, who is our health and blessing).

Legend has it that in a humble cave located a few hundred metres to the west of the sanctuary, Ramon Llull spent a short time of retreat and experienced an enlightenment, which caused him to later write the work Ars Magna.

Having visited the site myself, I very much doubt that the cave shown in my photo and inscribed as the Cova de Ramon Llull can possibly be the authentic one. The cave is of a very small size and of a very low height. There does not seem to be enough space for a hermit to live for any length of time, however short and however frugal. I may be wrong, though. Circumstances were probably quite different 777 years ago, especially for hermits.

The photo was taken near Randa, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 12th, 2009. The time was 13:20:57.

Ramon Llull’s Cave