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Palma, our beautiful ‘ciutat’

Palma, our beautiful ‘Ciutat’

August 25, 2014Next

Palma takes many by surprise. Home to half of the islands permanent residents, this stylish city by the sea has fast become one of Europe’s most frequented destinations.

Palma PortIn recent years Palma has cleverly shed its small town demeanour, emerging as a chic urban capital. No longer serving as a stop off point for holidaymakers desperately heading to the nearest beach, the commercial heart of the island is a world away from its neighbouring tourist resorts, attracting a different kind of visitor. With its sophisticated pavement café culture, gothic quarter and vibrant arts scene, Palma shows a dynamism envied by cities on mainland Spain, cleverly embracing the modern without losing its traditional flavour.

Palma Street SceneDiverse and debonair, Palma is everything a modern city should be. Elegant tree-lined avenues are lined with luxury shops housed in refurbished art nouveau buildings, the modern waterfront boulevard “el Passeig” which sweeps around Palma Bay is a perfect place for a morning jog, award winning restaurants with haute cuisine are abundant, their clientele: international, cultured, successful. Palma’s harbour, a hub of activity throughout the year, hosts several international regattas, the luxury yachts and cruise liners that drop anchor there serving as validation of all the city has achieved

But the new-fangled Palma is a city of great depth. It overflows with a history waiting to be discovered if you just scratch beneath its surface. Only a few metres will do in fact, as archaeologists have found, after uncovering remains of the ancient Roman city of “Palmaria”. During the Moorish conquest, the Arabs renamed the city “Medina Mayurka” Palma night lifeand built their mosque where the magnificent and dominating Cathedral of La Seu now stands. Gracing the skyline, this Gothic style monument, whose construction began in 1230 and lasted almost four hundred years, marks the end of the Arab occupation of Mallorca. Built on the foundations of the mosque, the cathedral faces Mecca instead of Jerusalem. It is made all the more interesting by its dazzling stained glass window which measures a hundred square metres, and by the fact that Gaudi also left his footprint here in later years. In front of the Cathedral, is the Parc de la Mer which stands on ground that was reclaimed from the sea in the 1950’s, the water originally reaching the city walls. Its artificial lake and fountains provides a perfect setting for summer evening concerts, the cathedral as a backdrop.

Palma CityJust beyond the Cathedral is the ‘casco antiguo’, Palma’s old town.  A labyrinth of narrow streets flanked with cool boutiques and chic art galleries, the Moorish and medieval legacy is apparent at the turn of every corner. Old stone staircases, majestic arches and fine examples of gothic architecture such as the church of Santa Eulalia, can be found on the same street as, perhaps, an ornate art deco façade or renaissance palace.  Many of these beautiful palaces which date from the seventeenth century are reminiscent of Palmas affluence, when the city became the main port of call between Europe and Africa at this time; their huge iron gates offer glimpses of the delightful patios and courtyards now so symbolic to the old town.

Palma’s diverse selection of real estate includes everything from immaculately renovated town houses, white linen drapes offering balcony shade, to uber-modern penthouses overlooking the bay, with sublime roof gardens. From converted mansions, to bijou apartments, these are home for both Palma’s permanent and semi-permanent residents who simply refer to Palma as ‘La Ciutat’ - The City. 

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