Bellver Castle, Palma de Mallorca
Here is a panoramic city view I took from Bellver Castle looking out towards the bay and old town.
In the foreground is the city center. You can make out the Club Nautico. To the right, in the bay are yachts and boats riding at anchorage. You can also just barely make out the cathedral and the container pier. In the far background is Playa Can Pere Antoni.
700-year old Bellver Castle was originally positioned to warn of raiders but today it witnesses an endless profusion of cruise ships filling the harbor.
Bellver dominates the skyline of Palma, being situated on a rise above the bay. The great distinction to this castle is its circular ground plan, unique in Spain. Three large towers surround a central courtyard, connected by an arch to a freestanding keep called the Tower of Homage. The keep, which we can see from across the moat, is separated from the main body, and reached by a small passage supported by an arch. It used to be reached over a small drawbridge.
The courtyard is on 2 levels, the ground floor with semicircular arches and a flat roof and the upper level with Gothic arches and rib-vaulting. The pure white of building stones is a relatively recent development. 100 years ago the castle was stripped clean of the black soot patina that had covered it for centuries. At one point, after a 17th century outbreak of the plague, a torch had been passed along its walls to disinfect it.
Built in the 14th century by King Jaime II it was envisioned as a sort of sanitarium—he had contracted tuberculosis—where he could get well. Construction lasted roughly 40 years, the King able to spend only the last 18-months of his life there. Jaime III took up residence in the castle until he was defeated in battle in 1343AD. Then the castle was turned into a prison for his wife and children. It actually became most infamous as a prison from the 1300’s until the 1800’s. Among many others, the encyclopaedist Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos was a prisoner for six years until April 1808. French physicist and astronomer Francois Arago found refuge in the castle in 1808. On one of the bulwarks the Liberal general Luis de Lacy was shot in 1817 for the crime of professing liberal ideas.
Bellver means beautiful view. Indeed the view of the sea and city from the castle is quite magnificent—a wonderful place of photographic opportunities with one of the best views in Palma.