Palma de Mallorca city is the capital of Mallorca and the Balearic Islands. It’s located in the south west corner of the island and sits at the centre of the Bay of Palma.
The city has a rich and diverse history dating back over 2,000 years. It was originally founded by the Romans in 123 BC and was known as Palmaria. Throughout its history, it has been influenced by various civilisations, including the Byzantines, Moors, and Christian kingdoms. In the 13th century, King James I of Aragon conquered the island and integrated it into the Kingdom of Aragon, which later became part of the Kingdom of Spain.
Today, Palma de Mallorca is a vibrant city that boasts a unique blend of ancient heritage and modern attractions. The palm-tree lined city has a similar look and feel to Barcelona or even the narrow streets of Rome and is, undoubtedly, one of Europe’s cultural treasures.
Palma has a multitude of great shops, cafes and bars. Adding to this, the city overlooks the glassy Bay of Palma – a mix of boats and light reflections among the blue of the sea. There is a beach within walking distance to the east of the cathedral, although this isn’t necessarily what visitors are looking for when they come to Palma.
In the city centre and on the waterfront, there are a wide variety of food places to choose from. If you wish to sample the local cuisine, you will find a delightful array of fresh seafood, traditional Spanish dishes, and a range of specialties, including paella, ensaimadas (sweet pastries), and sobrasada (cured sausage).
There is a lot to see and do in Palma city – here is an overview of the main tourist attractions.
Palma Cathedral, also known as La Seu, is an iconic Gothic cathedral in the heart of Palma de Mallorca. It is a prominent feature of the city, located close to the waterfront. Construction began in 1229 on the site of a former mosque and continued over several centuries. Later modifications were made by Gaudí at the turn of the 20th century. The result was a stunning architectural masterpiece. The cathedral is renowned for its impressive rose window, intricate flying buttresses, and magnificent interior, making it a must-visit attraction for tourists and a significant religious site for locals.
Next to the Cathedral you will find another imposing structure. The Almudaina Palace is a historic citadel and palace with roots dating back to the Arab period of Mallorca’s history. Originally built as an Islamic fortress, it was later converted into a residence for Mallorcan kings. The architecture of the palace showcases a mix of different styles, including Roman, Arab, and Gothic, making it a fascinating site to explore. Today, the Almudaina Palace remains an official residence of the Spanish royal family and is open to the public, offering visitors a chance to admire its captivating history and stunning surroundings with its delightful gardens.
Not far from the palace and cathedral are the many tiny streets of the Arab Quarters. Also known as the “La Calatrava” neighborhood, this is a charming and historic area in Palma de Mallorca that preserves its Moorish past. It was once part of the medieval Arab city of Medina Mayurqa during the Islamic rule of Mallorca. The narrow winding streets, white-washed buildings, and ancient architecture, including the still intact Arab baths, offer a glimpse into the island’s Arab heritage and create a unique and atmospheric experience for visitors exploring the old town of Palma.
Behind the Arab Quarters is Palma Town Hall. Known locally as Ajuntament de Palma, it is the seat of the municipal government in Palma de Mallorca. However, far from simply being an administrative centre, it is also a significant architectural landmark that adds to the city’s cultural and historical charm.The building’s construction started in the 17th century. It features a striking Neoclassical façade, adorned with Ionic columns and a grand entrance staircase.
Bellver castle is located to the west of the city on a hill overlooking Palma. Built in the 14th century for King James II of Mallorca, it is one of the few circular castles in Europe. Its design incorporates both Gothic and Romanesque architectural elements, making it an impressive example of medieval military architecture. Today, the castle is a popular tourist attraction, offering stunning panoramic views of Palma, its harbour and the bay, as well as housing the Museum of History of the City (Museu d’Història de la Ciutat).
Es Baluard Museum is a contemporary art museum situated next to the old town, not far from waterfront, with fantastic views of the harbour and cathedral. It opened its doors in 2004 and is housed in a restored 16th-century fortress. The museum’s collection includes works by local and international artists, with a focus on contemporary art from the Balearic Islands and the Mediterranean region. Es Baluard Museum is a cultural hub in Palma, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore modern art while also enjoying the historical setting of the fortress.
Efforts are being made to improve the accessibility of Palma City. The City Council has a website (link below) with useful information for people with physical disabilities, visual and hearing impairments. Here you will find details on:
If you require a wheelchair taxi to get around the city, contact Taxi Palma on tel (0034) 971 703529. The company recommend that you call them around half an hour prior to the desired journey time.
If you are visiting the city by car or intending to use public transport during your stay, this app might prove useful to you. It is available free of charge on Apple and Android and can provide you with the following information: