Top Historical Sites in Majorca
For many visitors, the island of Majorca is a futuristic paradise, best known for its contemporary bars and clubs which give the island its global reputation as a nightlife hotspot. To simply declare Majorca suited to beach-goers and nightclubbers would be to sell it short. There is much more to Majorca (Mallorca in Spanish), the biggest of the Balearic Islands. It boasts a rich, intricate history, and has had a pivotal part to play in shaping Europe’s past. Wander in any direction, and you will be impressed with awe-inspiring churches, aristocratic houses, brimming squares, and lively markets.
If you’re looking to take a deep dive into the island’s fascinating culture, it can be difficult to know just where to start. It will be useful to have an idea of the places you want to visit and plan your holiday accordingly. Here are some of the most popular sites across the island to help shape your itinerary, as well as some top tips to get the most out of your history-inspired trip to Majorca.
The Cathedral of Palma de Majorca
Any trip to Majorca would be incomplete without a visit to its famous cathedral, which can be found in the very heart of the capital city of Palma. The construction of the monumental Cathedral started in the early 13th century but wasn’t completed until 1601. Measuring 121 meters long, 55 meters wide, and approximately 44 meters high in the central nave, this imposing building has since been an important emblem of the city. Perched overlooking the seaside, the cathedral (also called La Seu), is a marvelous example of Gothic architecture and artistic brilliance. Stunning stained-glass windows, which include many rose windows, illuminate the interiors of the church with an intriguing glow. A large part of the interiors has been remodeled by Gaudi and Barcelo.
If you’re looking to explore the cathedral for yourself, there are several different ways to discover its enchanting architecture and historical significance. The first option is to explore with the help of an audio guide, which will allow you to uncover the secrets of the cathedral at your own pace. For a more in-depth look at the building’s past and present, lean on local expertise and enjoy a guided tour in the company of an official tour guide.
Royal Palace of La Almudaina, Majorca
The Royal Palace is a 10th-century Muslim fortress that is located in Palma – the city on the southwestern coast of Majorca. It was rebuilt in the early 14th century after the Catalan conquest and transformed into the royal residence for the Majorcan monarchs. It is still used by the King of Spain for ceremonies and receptions. The Gothic architecture, royal décor, stonework, and craftsmanship of the stone building are awe-inspiring. The S’Hort del Rei (king’s gardens) arch, Sant Anna’s chapel, and the Muslim pier are the key attractions of the Royal Palace of La Almudaina.
Castel de Beliver, Majorca
The circular-shaped castle was built, on the orders of King Jaume II of Majorca in the 14th century. The circular design of the castle is something of a rarity in Europe. Located on the outskirts of the city, Beliver castle was once the royal seat of James II. The majestic walls also served as a military prison from the 18th to mid 20th century. The beautiful Gothic-style castle is located on a wooded hillside and you can enjoy amazing views of the Palma, the Badia de Palmar, and the sea from the top. It also houses the Municipal History Museum.
Alcudia Old Town, Majorca
Another historical attraction in Majorca is the old town of Alcudia which is surrounded by luscious greenery and pine forests. It was inhabited by Phoenicians and Greeks initially, but in 123 BC, a settlement was established by the Roman Empire. The scenic town stands within an ancient Moorish fort wall and has been beautifully preserved. The old town with its winding streets has archaeological sites, historic monuments, ancient gates, baroque churches, palatial renaissance houses, and a Roman amphitheater. Alcudia has an old-world charm and visiting it is one of the best ways to experience the authentic Majorcan life.
Roman City of Pollenca, Majorca
Hop across the island to the beautiful north coast, where you will find the ancient town of Pollenca and its neighboring historic port. The vibrant Roman town is popular amongst tourists and locals alike. The visitors can explore the excavation sites, ancient buildings, and narrow cobblestoned streets. It houses a museum of the artifacts that have been excavated at the site. Nuestra Senora de los Angeles is the town’s 18th-century parish church. Pollenca also features the 365 Calvari Steps that lead to a Baroque pilgrimage chapel Oratori del Calvari built on top of the Calvary hill. Once there, you will not only be up close and personal with this historic site but will also be treated to views of the surrounding countryside. Head to Pollença on a Sunday, when the weekly market will be in full swing. From food to plants, to craftwork, you will be sure to find the perfect souvenir to take home from one of the 300 stalls.
Banos Arabs, Majorca
These Arab Baths are the only traces left of the Arab City of Medina Mayurqa. The baths date back to the 10th century and are believed to be part of a nobleman’s house. The baths have traces of Byzantine and Roman architecture. It has numerous columns and each of them is different in size.
Son Fornes, Majorca
The pre-historic Son Fornes dates back to 900BC and is one of the most complete Talayotic settlements in Majorca. You can see the ruins of rooms, dwellings, towers, and a sanctuary. The nearby gothic church of Sant Bartomeu is also worth visiting. The Archaeological Museum of Son Fornes exhibits the remains and artifacts of the Bronze era.
Basilica de Sant Francesc, Majorca
The construction of the church started in1280 and was completed in 1700, making it one of the oldest churches of Palma. The architecture has glimpses of both Gothic and baroque styles. The tomb of Ramon Llull installed within the church is one of the highlights.
Top tips for your holiday in Majorca
- Rent a car: As Majorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands, you will likely have to cover large distances in order to tick off everything on your historical to-do list. Renting a car will be the easiest way to get around the island and will give you the chance to take in some of the stunning vistas found along the way.
- Be considerate of dress codes: Whilst you may be in full holiday mode, beachwear is typically frowned upon away from the coastal resorts, but even more so if you are visiting one of the historical attractions. For instance, visitors to the cathedral are asked to cover their shoulders, wear shorts of appropriate length and avoid wearing open-toed shoes. Also, seeing the sights of Pollença will require a lot of walking, so be sure to pack appropriate footwear and clothing.
- Travel outside of peak times: The island is at its busiest during the summer months, which is also when temperatures are at their highest. If you’re looking to explore the cultural attractions across the island, consider traveling either side of the summer season, when queues will be shorter and temperatures more favorable for exploring the island by foot.
- Avoid drinking tap water: Tap water in Balearics, including Majorca, should not be used for drinking. The water is not of the best quality and may create problems.
- Adapt to the local timings: Many cafes, shops, offices & restaurants close in the middle of the day as the locals prefer to spend time with the family during those hours. As a result, dinner time is quite late – 9 pm onwards
- Public Transport: The main means of public transport in Majorca is the bus. The cost of the trip depends on the length of the trip and the fare has to be paid directly to the bus driver. Bus passes can be bought from tobacco shops or new stalls.