Old Town, Palma de Mallorca
Considered a masterpiece of Gothic architecture in Palma, Sa Llotja was built in 1452 by the Mallorcan architect Guillem Sagrera. The unusual cathedral-like structure was a merchants' exchange and the seat of the Collegi de la Mercaderia (Merchants College). One of its most striking architectural features is the twisting columns supporting the vaulted ceiling of the interior. Nowadays, Sa Llotja functions as an art gallery and its interior was one of my favourite spots in Palma.
Address: Carrer de la Llotja
Sa Portella is one of the few mediaeval gates to have survived and it gave the surrounding neighbourhood its name. It dates from the post-Arab period, but is probably a reconstruction of an Arab gate. The emblem of the house of Aragon decorates the exterior (not in photo). The Sa Portella neighbourhood has many beautiful historic buildings and is a charming area to walk through.
Although this palace traces its roots to the 16th century, it was renovated and restored a few times since then. It carries the names of two prominent families that lived here, the Espanya and the Serra families whose coat of arms decorate the building. For a while in the 20th century, it served as a guest house known as Hostal Isabel, whose name is still visible above the entrance. The interior has a courtyard, typical of Palma, with a grand staircase. The building was designed in a mix of neo-gothic and neo-renaissance styles.
Address: Carrer de la Portella, 8
While visiting Palma, you will be surprised by the number of ancient churches, especially in the old part of town. After visiting the Cathedral, you walk north a couple of hundred yards before encountering another imposing edifice - the 13th century Church of Santa Eulàlia (Mon–Fri 7am–12.30pm & 5.45–8.30pm, Sat 7am–1pm & 4.30–8.45pm, Sun 8am–1pm & 6.30–8.30pm; free). It was the first church to be built after Jaume's arrival.
Close by, the Ajuntament (town hall) is a fine example of the late-Renaissance style. Now turn right at Santa Eulàlia, walking down the narrow, unpaved street against the flow of traffic, and you will very soon come across another even more commanding building, the Church of San Francisco (1281) or Basílica de Sant Francesc (Mon–Sat 9.30am–12.30pm & 3.30–6pm, Sun 9.30am–12.30pm; €0.60). La Seu definitely is more famous but the church is the finest among a host of worthy medieval churches. It is the most important church in Palma, and is, along with Santa Eulàlia, the one with largest dimensions.
You can find more churches in the old town - the churches of Montesion, Santa Fe, Santa Clara, El Temple, just to name a few. Some of these old churches were originally Jewish temples, other temples were originally Islamic holy-places, for instance the church of San Miguel in the street of the same name. And after the Christian reconquest the Cathedral itself was actually built around a mosque.
Palma is a good place for an aimless wander, narrow lanes to explore and plenty of shops and bars to discover - just a few photos of our time in town.