The capital city of the Balearic Islands is called Palma de Mallorca, or in short just Palma. The city extends along the bay of Palma, along the coast of the Mediterranean sea. With over 500.000 inhabitants, more than half of Mallorca’s population lives in the capital city. The historic old town builds the center of the city, which is surrounded by a belt of dense urban construction and the port at the south west.
The city was founded in 123 BC by the roman emperor Quintus Caecilius Metellus, who then called the city Palmaria Palmensis. In 903 the Arabs overtook the city and introduced their arabic-islamic culture to it. Later the city was developed by the Aragons, who built among other buildings the famous cathedral and most important landmark ‘La Seu’. A new boom came in the beginning of the 20th century, when many buildings in the Modernist style were erected. Since the end of World War II, mass tourism is one of the main economic pillars of the city.
Strolling along the narrow alleys of the old town, you will encounter a style mix between Spanish-Catalan and Arabic architecture. Many of the streets are only connected by staircases, making it to a huge pedestrian area. The center of the old town build the Plaça Major, which is the typical Spanish square you will find in most bigger cities. The square is surrounded by dominant buildings which give way for small – but touristy – restaurants and cafén in their ground floor. Walking towards the sea front, you will find the majestic building of the gothic cathedral, ascending over the bay of Palma.
Walking along the promenade along the shore and the port, you will reach a further famous building in gothic style: La Llotja de Palma. It is the former maritime trade stock exchange building, which nowadays holds art exhibitions from time to time. In this area of the town, you will also find nice little restaurants and tapas bars for a typical night out at Palma de Mallorca – or rather starting of a long night out. Passing the idyllic and quiet square in front of La Llotja and walking the streets uphill, you will encounter Palmas modern art museum ‘Es Baluard’. From its extensive terrace, you will have a nice panoramic view from the cathedral on the left towards the harbour on the right.
Walking further away from the old town along the harbour on the Paseo Maritimo, you will pass by many clubs and bars only opening at night. At the end of the port lies the huge shopping mall ‘Porto Pi’. Here you can shop everything from fashion over accesories to groceries. Another nice neighbourhood is called Santa Catalina, which lies between the old town and the shopping mall Porto Pi. It is full of small and cozy cafés, restaurants, bars and bakeries. The atmosphere here is hip and modern, without losing its mediterranean and fishermen charme. Here you will also find a typical market hall with fresh vegetables and groceries. Why not stop here for lunch and taste one of the best Paellas on the island?
Walking towards the east, passing the cathedral, you will get to know the beach of Palma de Mallorca. It is a quiet place, away from the bustling city. The seafront will lead you to a small harbour, after passing it, you will reach the quiet neighbourhood Portixol. Beach clubs, restaurants, ice cream shops line up at the waterfront. It is a nice place to chill out in the afternoon, watch the ocean and have a refreshing drink. Even though it is close to the city, it is tranquil and uncrowded especially during weekdays.