Palma Cathedral, Basilica of Santa Maria de Mallorca, also known as “La Seu” is a remarkable and emblematic landmark of Palma de Mallorca, which proudly stands out for centuries in the historic centre of the city. It is a must for those who decide to spend their holiday on the island. Let’s check what is fascinating about it!
History of Palma Cathedral
The origins of the Palma Cathedral date back to the 13th century. It is the result of a promise given by King Jaime I to Sant Mary. He prayed to her, to save him from a shipwreck at sea. As we can see today, his prayers had been answered.
After the conquest of the island by the Crown of Aragon, he started building the Cathedral, in the same place where the main Arabic mosque used to be, which stood there during the time of the Moors on the Balearic Islands.
Although the first stone was put in 1229, La Seu was not completed until 400 years later.
The Artwork of Miguel Barceló
Miquel Barcelo is without any doubt one of the most representative and important contemporary artists in the world. In the cathedral of Majorca you can see one of the boldest and original works made so far, in a religious building.
The chapel of San Pedro, located on the right hand side apse at the head of the gothic temple, was the place chosen by Barceló.
In this gothic style chapel, we have a mural, elaborated between 2001 and 2006. This mural, with both African and Mediterranean influences will surprise you with its modern and bold interpretation of the miracle of the loaves and fishes using about 300 square meters of polychrome ceramic.
A colossal task that Barcelo developed in Vietrisul Mare (Naples) in collaboration with the ceramist Vincenzo Santoriello. The artist also made the altar, pulpit, the president’s chair and the two banks of stone.
At the bottom of the chapel are five stained glass windows of 12 metres, painted with various shades of grey to recreate the underwater light.
The visual impact of the style of this chapel with the rest of the Cathedral really startles and is without any doubt well worth a visit
Visiting the Cathedral Terraces
What many people do not know, also among the locals, is that there is the possibility to visit the terraces of the cathedral. Beholding Palma de Mallorca, and the Cathedral itself, from their rooftops is a show that is really worth seeing.
The terraces are only open to the public in the interval ranging from the beginning of May to the end of October, but it coincides with the best time on the island to admire any view.
To visit the terraces, you also have to climb a series of stairs and sections that are not easily accessible. For this reason, it is not a suitable visit for people with reduced mobility or those suffering from cardiorespiratory diseases, or for children under 12 years of age.
Remember that to access the terraces you must book the visit in advance online. On the official website of the Cathedral of Mallorca there is an area where you can book tickets. Each ticket costs 20€, which is really worth it.
Once you have climbed the 215 steps, you can enjoy one of the most impressive views of the whole city, with a complete 360-degree panorama.
But during the hour that the visit lasts, we will not only enjoy the view of Palma de Mallorca, but also the architecture of the Cathedral from a unique perspective.
You can walk back and forth between the spectacular buttresses of double arches that elegantly support the walls of the building. You can also admire the bell tower and, up close, one of the wonders of Spanish Gothic: the Rosetón, the highlight of the Cathedral.
The visit ends with a final surprise: after the tour to the terraces (and at no extra cost) you can enjoy the inside of the Cathedral.
Spectacle of The Eight
On February 2 and November 11, every year, the incredible light show, called Spectacle of The Eight, known in Catalan as “espectacle del vuit”, takes place in Palma Cathedral.
This phenomenon happens in the interior, if it is sunny (and in Majorca, it almost always is) , when the reflection of the main rose window is projected right underneath the rose window of the main facade of the Cathedral, forming the figure of eight.
The Cathedral opens its doors at 08:00 to all who wish to see it, it usually takes place at around 08:30.
As per ordinary custom, at 09:00 the convent mass takes place in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.
It is an optical phenomenon that looks like magic, even though the secret lies in its precise architectural mathematical calculations.
The Cathedral of Palma is orientated to the West to respect the winter solstice sunrise, in such a way that the sunlight hits the main rose window during sunrise, projecting the colours underneath the other rose window in front.
The result is that the sun illuminates the glass stained window and displays a magnificent show of colours. During a few seconds, the 1,236 crystals of the main rose window project their light and colour on the opposite facade offering a unique light show.
Without a doubt, this show is the perfect excuse to visit Mallorca in autumn and winter.