A visit to Mallorca Cathedral, located in the heart of Palma, is a must-do during any trip to Mallorca. 'La Seu', as it's known among the locals, is a symbol of the city as well as of the island. It's also one of the most spectacular Gothic-style cathedrals in the world, with its impressive view of the sea and large rose window. It can be visited every day of the week except Sundays and hidden in its interior are unique artistic gems such as the mural painted by Miquel Barceló.
Table of contents
- The History of Palma Cathedral
- The Eye of the Gothic
- Miquel Barceló’s mural
- Mallorca Cathedral’s terraces
- Visiting hours
- Requirements for the visit
The history of Palma Cathedral
The history of Mallorca’s Cathedral spans over more than three centuries of building, several changes of direction and, like all these great architectural gems, a lot of effort. The cathedral came into existence under King James II, who commissioned Ponç Descoll to carry out the work, but it was actually the king's father, James I, who had the idea of building a cathedral on the island in the first place. The building work, in the Levantine Gothic style, commenced around the year 1300 and began with the apse area, where the Trinity Chapel (Capilla de La Trinidad) is located. It wasn't completed until 1601, with the so-called 'Main Portal' (Portal Mayor).
The cathedral is also known as the Cathedral of Santa María de Palma, and its interior is divided into three naves. The central one is the largest: 20 metres wide with massive pillars that reach up to 44 metres in height (some of the highest in Europe). Along its sides there are 16 chapels, and there is a secret here that always surprises art lovers: in the presbytery you can sens the almost magical touch of Antoni Gaudí, who was in charge of its renovation between 1904 and 1914.
The Eye of the Gothic
The main rose window of Palma Cathedral is the largest in Europe, and one of the most beautiful Gothic rose windows in the world. It’s become known as 'the Eye of the Gothic'. In total there are 1,236 coloured pieces of glass that form the Star of David, in a 100 m2-large rose window that measures 13 metres in diameter. There are an additional 87 windows and another six rose windows as well, creating what many refer to as the cathedral of light.
The large rose window is also shrouded in mystery, as twice a year, when light enters through its coloured glass, it forms a perfect figure of eight together with the smaller rose window, creating a unique display for those who are in the city on February 2 or November 11. These are no random dates, as they coincide with the day of Candlemas (day two of month two) and Saint Martin’s day (day eleven of month eleven). However, cathedral researchers point out that at no point during constructions were any plans made for this to happen.
Miquel Barceló's mural
Between 2001 and 2007, renowned artist Miquel Barceló oversaw the reformation of the interior of the right apse, where the Chapel of the Most Holy (Capilla del Santísimo) is located. New furniture was added, along with new stained-glass windows and a large ceramic mural depicting the miracle from the Bible with the loaves and fishes but influenced by the underwater world.
Today, Miquel Barceló's mural in Palma Cathedral is one of the most famous pieces of art in the city and a must for all art lovers who come to the island.
Mallorca Cathedral terraces
The opening of the cathedral terraces to the public has been one of the great events of recent years, not only for those who visit the island but also for its residents who are now able to access one of the most spectacular viewpoints found in the Bay of Palma.
Many have taken this opportunity to climb to the top of the cathedral, seeing its bell tower and high spaces, as well as walking under its flying buttresses. Important to note is that these visits to the terraces are only offered in summer, from May to October.
Visiting hours for Palma Cathedral are mornings only, from 10 am to 2:15 pm, Monday to Saturday. This is a good thing, because you can take advantage of all the light that enters through its great Gothic Eye from dawn until noon. You can find more details about the opening hours for the cathedral on its dedicated website where you can also buy tickets.
If you're staying at one of our hotels in Palmanova or in our new 5-star hotel Zafiro Palace Andratx, you're only 20 minutes from the centre of Palma, and there are buses that will take you directly to the city centre. If you go by car there is an underground car park just under the park next to the cathedral (Parc de la Mar).
Requirements for the visit
Before you organise your visit to the Cathedral, you must take into account a few things that are listed below:
- There are different kinds of tickets: the standard one includes access to the cathedral interior and the terraces.
- The entrance is through the Cathedral Museum (Plaza de la Seu, s/n).
- You will be sent a booking confirmation by e-mail that you have to present when entering.
- Visits start on time and last only one hour.
- Pets are not allowed, except for guide dogs.
- Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- No food or drink is allowed during the visit.
- On Fridays, entry is free for all residents of Mallorca.
So, if you are able to go visit the Cathedral, don't hesitate: a unique building awaits you, brimming with art and history wherever you look.