Palma is the capital of the island of Mallorca, and of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. It is located in the western part of the Mediterranean sea and to the southeast of the island of Mallorca, about 250 km to the east of the Iberian peninsula. The municipality covers an area of 208.63 km2 that extends between Serra de Na Burguesa and Prat de Sant Jordi. The city is located in the centre of the bay of Palma, at 13 metres above sea level.
Palma has a population of around 420,000 inhabitants, and it is the eighth largest city in Spain in terms of population and the largest in the Balearic Islands. The city was founded with the name Palma by the Roman consul Quintus Caecilius Metellus Balearicus in the year 123 BC. It is believed that the current settlement possibly corresponds to the Roman ruins found beneath the city’s historic quarter. Following other conquests by the Vandals and Arabs in 903, it was finally conquered by King James I of Aragon on 31 December 1229, and became the prosperous Ciutat Mallorca, the capital of his own kingdom, that fell into decline after coming under the control of the Crown of Aragon in 1279. In 1715 the Nueva Planta decrees came into effect, and the city regained its Roman name, Palma.
Role as Capital
Palma is home to the institutions of the autonomous community and the Regional Government Office for the Balearic Islands. At the beginning of the 1960s the emergence of the tourism phenomenon changed the face of the city, and that of the entire island, turning it into a magnet for visitors and sociological exchange between cultures. Palma is also home to Son Sant Joan Airport, one of the most important in Europe.
Palma will surprise you with its endless number of interesting places to visit. They include, the Arab Baths, one of the few remaining examples of Muslim architecture; La Seu, the standard bearer of Palma. Its ceramic altarpiece created in the Chapel of the Most Holy at Palma Cathedral by the Mallorcan artist Miguel Barceló, is undoubtedly a first-rate work of art. Bellver Castle, unique due to its circular building shape: La Lonja (built between 1426 and 1448), is a clear example of Catalan civil gothic style. You could also visit La Almudaina Royal Palace, and its museum, of Roman origin. Also, the Gothic Quarter, with its winding streets, is home to special patios in stately homes, of which there are more than sixty. The Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, Casal Solleric and Es Baluard are some of the interesting museums, house-museums and art galleries that Palma adds to its rich heritage. There are also official guided tours available in different languages. They depart from the iconic Plaza de Cort olive tree, and offer different two-hour long walking routes showing the varied range of heritage to be found in the historic centre of Palma.
Beaches within the municipality
The city of Palma has five beaches: Can Pere Antoni, Ciutat Jardí, Cala Estancia, Platja de Palma and Cala Major. The Cabrera Archipelago Maritime-Terrestrial National Park, the largest in all of Spain, is within the municipality and has several coves and a sandy beach on its coast whose marvellous natural beauty remains unspoiled.
Tourism is the primary economic activity in Mallorca, and consequently, in Palma. The city also has an extensive network of bars and restaurants as well as private means to help visitors get to know the city, such as horse-drawn carriages and open-top buses. Palma, recognised and valued as a benchmark of Europe’s sun and beach tourism, is also an ideal tourist destination for a city break. It is a dynamic, lively, cosmopolitan city, making it an appealing destination 365 days a year and not only during the high season.
The Mallorcan capital offers a quality, imaginative and distinctive range of possibilities. An example of this is its cultural offer, including activities with international appeal that are held throughout the year, such as Art Brunch, the well-known Nit de l’Art, Palma Photo, Mallorca Musical Festival etc. Also, Palma holds outstanding sporting events such as the Palma Marathon, and the King’s Cup Sailing Regatta, a real luxury that is not held in any other city.