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The Palace (Exterior)

The Royal Palace in the centre of Palma is one of the key structures in the city and with so much to talk about; the information has been split into two webpages. I suggest starting by the main entrance, opposite the Cathedral's west door. Then walk around the outside of the palace, from where you can get a great view of the walls and learn about rooms inside. On this webpage you will learn about the various stages of the building of the palace. You will also learn where the King's and Queen's Gardens were. Once you have completed the walk, you can decide whether to pay and enter the castle or not. Whatever your decision the webpage about the Palace Interior has further details about the castle rooms and how they were developed over the centuries. Find more details about visiting the Palace at www.palmademallorca.es

The walls we see today were started over 2,000 years ago by the Romans. The Moors improved them using a brick and mud construction method called adobe. They surrounded the Emir's palace, a private garden and a large courtyard where the townspeople could gather in times of danger.

Jaime I conquered the fortress in December 1229 but it was not until the early 1300's that Jaime II began converting the stronghold into a Catalan style residence. A great hall, apartments for the King and Queen, offices were built on the inside of the Moorish walls, reducing the size of the courtyard. Two chapels, one for the King and one for the Queen, split what was left of the internal area in two, giving the palace a much more compact feeling. Jaime's builders also faced the walls with high grade stone, built towers and added crenulations.

almudaina palace (royal palace) palma de mallorca
almudaina palace (royal palace) palma de mallorca

The Great Hall:
Start from the entrance gate facing the cathedral and walk down the steps towards the sea, turning right at the bottom to view the south façade of the palace. The south east tower, the d'En Carroç Tower, stands above the Great Hall. The hall was originally a huge room, the full height of the two bottom rows of windows. However, in 1578 the roof collapsed and Philip II had the hall rebuilt on two floors, doubling the floor space. You can still see the outline of the larger original windows while the top row of blind windows is for decoration.

The King's Apartments:
Moving west we can see the three floors of the King's Apartments overlooking the Sea Gate. The ground floor, with its arcade of rounded arches, was for the King's guards, squires and servants. It has a large terrace known as Mirador del Mar, or Sea Lookout. The King lived on the second floor which has an arcade of ornate arches and a private balcony. The third floor was for the treasury and the only access was via a staircase from the ground floor in the left hand tower, the Spirit Tower. The right hand tower was the King's Tower because it was adjacent to the King's chamber. The King's Dressing Room Tower is hidden behind the King's Tower.

The tall tower flying the national flag behind the centre of the King's Apartments is the Angel Tower. The upper floor was the Palace prison where prisoners could be held at the King's pleasure. Guards would keep watch over the harbour from the tower and after the 16th Century they were also in contact with the ring of watchtowers around the coast of the island. Signals would let the guards know if the island was under attack, allowing the King to send troops to stop the invaders. The statue of St Gabriel the Archangel on the top is a weather vane made of bronze-covered wood; it was commissioned by James II in 1310 and made by the sculptor Antoni Camprodén.

almudaina palace (royal palace) palma de mallorca
almudaina palace (royal palace) palma de mallorca

The Sea Gate:
The archway below the King's apartments was built in the south wall of the Almudaina in the 10th Century when the sea came right up to the palace walls (there was no dual carriageway or lake here back then). A great arch 18 metres allowed royal ships to sail right inside the palace walls and tie up at a private mooring. Visitors could then climb the stairs and walk straight into the palace. The Moors also installed a secret exit so that people could escape if the castle came under attack. The Emir used it when the Count of Barcelona besieged the palace in 1115; he had to be lowered by ropes down to the steps leading to the quay.

By the 1500's the mooring had silted up and could not be used so the arch was bricked up, leaving only a door between the harbour and the palace. In recent years the arch has been opened up once more and the door was transferred to the nearby King's Garden.

The King's Garden (Jardins de s'Hort del Rei):
The King's Garden was built on the lower level on the river bank where there was fertile soil for fruit trees, vegetables and vines. Wild beasts given to the King were caged here along with an area for breeding animals. Although the garden was surrounded by a wall and towers, they were repeatedly damaged during floods and the problem only came to an end when the river was routed around the outside of the city walls in the 15th Century.

By the 19th Century the King's Garden was no longer needed and while a cavalry barracks was built next to the sea, the rest of the area was sold to a private company in 1880. The company in turn let out plots and various structures including a theatre, a hotel, a cafe and even a circus were built at the foot of the palace walls. However, by the second half of the 20th Century it was felt that the buildings detracted from the palace and in 1967 Palma City Council bought the area, demolished the buildings and rebuilt the King's Garden as a public area. It now has trees, shrubberies, an Arab style water feature and fountains. The doorway taken from the seaward gate stands at the north end.

almudaina palace (royal palace) palma de mallorca
almudaina palace (royal palace) palma de mallorca The West Wall and the Queen's Apartments:
Looking up from the King's Gardens we can see the west side of King's Apartments and Torre del Buny. The crenulated wall and three storeys high Queen's Apartments look over the rest of the King's Gardens. Three towers stand over the apartments, the Queen's Dressing Room Tower, the Queen's Tower, and the Princess's Tower and they were all restored and crenulated in 1976. The base of the Ox Tower is just north of the Queen's Apartments but the most important tower is the two tier Tower of Heads at the northwest corner of the palace. Hangings were carried out on the tower so the crowds could watch from the square below. Heads of executed prisoners also were displayed on the tower. The tower was rebuilt in 1915.

The East Wall:
Turn right at the top of the steps towards the main gate. The building at the northeast corner of the palace was the Royal Cellar. It was built in 1333 by James III to control the collection of the wine tithe (a tax on vineyards) across the island. Right next to the Cellar is the northern entrance into the courtyard with its sentry post and it would have been used by carriages. This part of the building was handed over to the War Department in 1658 and the Royal Cellar was turned into a Weapons Room. The next tower, facing the west façade of the cathedral, is the Jewish Tower (Torre del Jueu).

The Bell Tower stands guard over the entrance used by the public today and the ringing of the bell signalled the changing of the guard. Arrow slits protected the gate while a portcullis gate stopped unwanted guests entering the courtyard. You can now enter the main gate to visit the Royal Palace.

North Wall and the Queen's Garden:
Turning east, follow the wide steps along the north wall. The Queen's Garden is behind the wall and is out of bounds for visitors. The only way to see it is from the March Museum on the left side of the steps. A combination of water channels and aqueducts known as the Royal Canal brought water through the city and into the large pool in the garden. Irrigation channels watered the fruit and vegetables grown there and drinking troughs were provided for the animals.

almudaina palace (royal palace) palma de mallorca

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