Bellver Castle was built 3 kilometers from the center of Palma and its circular ground plan is a unique example of Gothic architecture. Bellver means beautiful view and, indeed, the view of the sea and city from the castle is quite magnificent - it stands on the top of the hill 113 m above sea level and dominates the sky line above the city. The castle’s construction started in 1300 by the orders of James II, King of Mallorca. It took nine years to build the royal residence. It is unique among Spanish castles in being entirely round. Three large towers surround a central courtyard, connected by an arch to a free standing keep. The courtyard itself is on two levels, the ground floor with semicircular arches and a flat roof, the upper level with Gothic arches and rib-vaulting. For the full effect, walk around the moat then climb onto the roof and look down into the courtyard to compare the contrasting styles. While you are there, look out over the city and the bay for one of the best views in Palma. In the late 14th century, John I and Violet of Aragon stayed there with their court for three months. The castle has also entertained other European royalty, such as Charles I of England, the Prince of Savoy, John of Austria, the Duke of Monpensier and the present British Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, as well as members of the Spanish Royal family including the present monarchs King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. These days it contains Palma's museum of municipal history which traces the development of the city through its artifacts, with pottery from Talaiotic, Roman, Arab and Spanish periods.
You can get there by car or taxi, or take a bus to Placa Gomila and climb up through the pine woods above Carrer de Bellver, passing a chapel on the way.
Admission to Castell de Bellver (April–Sept Mon–Sat 8am–8pm, Sun 10am–7pm; Oct–March Mon–Sat 8am–7pm, Sun 10am–5pm; €1.65, free Sun)