Europe

Hidden treasures within the cobblestone streets of Palma de Mallorca

Ema Bakalova

Jun 1, 2023

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Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma in Mallorca
Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma in Mallorca

While the allure of its beaches and mountaints is undeniable, the hidden treasures within the cobblestone streets of Old Town Palma is what truly captured my attention and stole my heart. During the initial phases of our trip planning, the decision came down to either Ibiza or Mallorca, but the consensus was clear: "For a more romantic trip, opt for Mallorca; whereas if you're in the mood for vibrant parties, Ibiza is the place!" Clearly, we chose Mallorca.

The streets of Mallorca
The streets of Mallorca

Old Town Palma

We rented an Airbnb right in the center of Old Town Palma, walking distance from the main city center in a beautiful neighborhood. Palma felt a bit different than Deiá, since it was a larger, busier and had more of a vibrant urban character. While it has its own charm with historic sites, a stunning cathedral, and a harbor, the landscape is more urbanized and less dominated by nature.

The narrow lanes, filled with golden buildings, intricate balconies, and vibrant bougainvillaea, had a distinct old-fashioned charm. The sidewalks are tiny (often time people and cars share the same road), and you can easily get lost between the winding streets. Deiá on the other hand, attracts a more niche crowd that is quieter and more laid back, perhaps for someone that is seeking tranquility and a deep connection to nature and art.

While I can't speak from personal experience regarding Ibiza (yet), I can wholeheartedly confirm that the portrayal of Mallorca's romantic atmosphere was absolutely accurate.

The streets of Mallorca
The streets of Mallorca

Running our way through the city

Upon our arrival on the first day, we kept things relatively low-key. We found the local grocery store and picked up food for the week. We managed to take a light walk through our neighborhood and down to the city center of Palma to get a feel for our surroundings.

It was gorgeous, but we decided to save most of the real exploring for the next day. We arrived in the evening so the day was already coming to an end.

Grocery store in Mallorca

Grocery store

This was the grocery store we visited. Just a heads up, be cautious with poultry from smaller stores. We got very sick from the chicken we ate from this shop.

On our first morning in Mallorca, we felt like going for a run to explore the city. We chose a route that led us through the city center, along the waterfront, and through palm-lined streets before heading back. Running (as well as walking) is one of the best and quickest ways to get to know a city, while covering some serious miles and getting a good workout in. Palma is small enough, making it easy to explore by foot and cover a good amount of ground on a run. La Seu Cathedral stood out against the sky, a stunning sight we quickly took in as we jogged by. The plan was to return to the Cathedral later than day.

Fira Del Llibre 2023: Open Air Book Fair

Fira Del Llibre 2023: Open Air Book Fair

We ran into an outdoor book fair in full swing at the heart of the city, an event that celebrates literature, authors, and reading.

Fira Del Llibre 2023: Open Air Book Fair

Fira Del Llibre 2023: Open Air Book Fair

We ran into an outdoor book fair in full swing at the heart of the city, an event that celebrates literature, authors, and reading.

Old and new

What stood out to me in Old Town Palma was how the old and the new elements of the city's development seamlessly coexisted and contrasted with one another. Antique shops, artisan boutiques, and contemporary art galleries were built comfortably alongside centuries-old residences. The juxtaposition of history and modernity creates an atmosphere that is both nostalgic, yet lively, showcasing the evolution of Palma's culture in a tangible way.

From my experience, the locals in Old Town Palma were very warm, something I can assume is a reflection of the close-knit community they have built in this historic center. During the trip, I learned that many of the locals had been rooted there for generations, and had established profound connections to their surroundings over the years. Walking through the streets, you can tell that the buildings and streets are old, but impeccably maintained, a testament to the importance of preserving the city's authentic charm.

Streets of Mallorca
Streets of Mallorca
Streets of Mallorca
Streets of Mallorca

From black on black to a life in colour

The city center is filled with shops– I'm assuming Mallorca thrives during tourist season when the island is at its busiest. We did some window shopping, walked into tiny boutiques, and observed the details of the streets. The buildings were lined with bright colors, from the facades to the signage– even the clothing inside was colorful. It was a refreshing change from my usual all-black New York City attire.

Streets of Mallorca

Siesta

Many shops and businesses close for siesta in the early afternoon (usually from around 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM), and generally most shops close very early.

Streets of Mallorca
Streets of Mallorca
Streets of Mallorca

Discovering La Seu Cathedral

La Seu Cathedral, is a stunning Gothic masterpiece in the center of Malloca, that completely dominates the skyline. The intricate details and colossal rose window that you see from the distance are just a glimpse into how skilled the craftsmanship of past generations were.

The charm of the area extends beyond the cathedral as well. The narrow streets are full of beautiful buildings showcasing different architectural styles, from graceful Gothic detailing to intricate Renaissance designs. The cathedral seems to fit in just right, with its materiality and colors blending seamlessly with the surroundings. Even the green palm trees seem to perfectly complement the water surrounding the cathedral.

La Seu Cathedral in Mallorca
La Seu Cathedral in Mallorca
La Seu Cathedral in Mallorca

The horse and carriage

The horse-drawn carriages outside La Seu Cathedral in Palma offer a charming and traditional mode of transportation for visitors, known as "calesas" or "carros de caballos."

La Seu Cathedral in Mallorca

The horse and carriage

The horse and carriage you might see outside La Seu Cathedral is a charming and traditional mode of transportation meant for visitors. These horse-drawn carriages, also known as "calesas" or "carros de caballos," are meant to offer a traditional touch to exploring Palma.

A symbol of the skyline

I still cannot decide whether the cathedral is more spectacular from up close or from far away, but we walked to the other side of the pond, where we could observe it from the distance. From a far the cathedral has a commanding presence, while still managing to gracefully integrate into the surrounding environment. The intricate details, distinct and captivating up close, blend together to create an impressive overall silhouette.

La Seu Cathedral in Mallorca

Fun fact

Gaudí was not involved in the initial design, but was actually involved in the restoration and renovation of La Seu Cathedral. He was appointed in the early 20th century to work on the restoration of the main façade and the Sagrario Chapel.

Gaudi focused on revitalizing the exterior, adding intricate details, sculptures, and a more ornate design to the existing gothic architectural expression. However, due to disagreements with the project's direction and some funding issues, Gaudí's involvement was eventually limited and he didn't complete the full extent of his intended renovations. Overall, while Gaudí's influence is notable in some parts of La Seu Cathedral, the majority of its design remains mainly rooted in gothic architecture, showcasing a blend of various styles over centuries of construction and renovation.

La Seu Cathedral in Mallorca
La Seu Cathedral in Mallorca
La Seu Cathedral in Mallorca
La Seu Cathedral in Mallorca
La Seu Cathedral in Mallorca

Good to know

The best time to visit the Cathedral is early in the morning, and during the week days. It gets very busy in the middle of the day and durng the weekends.

La Seu Cathedral in Mallorca

Good to know

The best time to visit the Cathedral is early in the morning, and during the week days. It gets very busy in the middle of the day and durng the weekends.

How much time do you need to explore Mallorca?

The time it takes to explore Palma de Mallorca can vary based on your preferences and level of in-depth exploration you desire. Here is my recommendation and a general breakdown on how to spend your time in Mallorca, depending on how many days you have in the city.

If you only have one day:

You can get a really good idea of the main attractions in a day, visiting La Seu Cathedral and exploring the city center and walking through the Old Town.

If you have two or three days:

With this timeframe, you can delve deeper. Visit the major attractions, explore some of the museums, take a guided tour of the historic center and spend some time enjoying and tasting some of the local food.

If you have a week or more:

The time it takes to explore Palma de Mallorca can vary based on your preferences and the depth of exploration you desire. Here is my recommendation and a general breakdown on how to spend your time in Mallorca, depending on how many days you have in the city.

If you have a week or more in Mallorca, I would highly recommend renting a car or taking advantage of the public transportation and making day trips out to places like Deiá, Valldemossa, Soller and Port de Soller, Pollenca, Sa Dragonera Island, Cabrera National Park (or some of the many other vibrant neighborhoods that you can get to within a few short hours).

If you only have one day:

You can get a really good idea of the main attractions in a day, visiting La Seu Cathedral and exploring the city center and walking through the Old Town.

If you have two or three days:

With this timeframe, you can delve deeper. Visit the major attractions, explore some of the museums, take a guided tour of the historic center and spend some time enjoying and tasting some of the local food.

If you have a week or more:

If you have a week or more in Mallorca, I would highly recommend renting a car or taking advantage of the public transportation and making day trips out to places like Deia, Valldemossa, Soller and Port de Soller, Pollenca, Sa Dragonera Island, Cabrera National Park (or some of the many other vibrant neighborhoods that you can get to within a few short hours).

Streets in Mallorca
Streets in Mallorca

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