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HOME PAGE - Areas of the Island - Palma (City) - St Peter's - The Shipbuilding Quarter

Sant Pedro - The Shipbuilding & Fishing Quarter

The southwest area of Palma is built on the slopes of Saint Peter's Hill around the Holy Cross Church. While the guns on Saint Peter's Bastion looked out to sea, sailors, shipbuilders and fishermen brought this part of the city alive with sea related activities.


st peters - the shipbuilding quarter of palma de mallorca
Saint Peter's Hill in the 18th Century.

The Consulat del Mar

The Consulat del Mar, or the Consulate of the Sea, was an important building which oversaw maritime matters in Palma harbour, making laws and regulating disputes. It still has an important part to play as the headquarters of the Balearics Government. Palma's Merchants Association commissioned the building in 1614 and the ornate gallery by Rafael Blanquer and Antonio Carbonell was the main feature when it opened 20 years later. There is a small 16th Century church to the rear overlooking the garden adjacent to the Market Hall.

Just to the west of the Consulate is a late 18th Century building which also dealt with harbour administration. It later became a school for orphaned girls and was known as 'Ses Minyones'; it too is now used by the Balearics Government. Anthony Oliver's bust of the Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario, who wrote many of his poems while staying in Mallorca, was unveiled outside the building in 1950.
st peters - the shipbuilding quarter of palma de mallorca
The Consulat del Mar.
st peters - the shipbuilding quarter of palma de mallorca
Saint Peter's watchtower.

Fascine Park

Continue walking west along the base of the wall which surrounds Saint Peter's Bastion. Take note of the stone masons marks on the walls so that each mason was paid for each stone used. It was a case of setting their invoice in stone. Turn right up the hill and follow the moat which once ran all the way around Palma. The park was once a fortification in its own right with a parade ground and a firing range. The name of the park, Parc de la Fexina or Fascine Park, probably refers to the firing butts.

A tall white obelisk was built to remember the sinking of a ship during the Spanish Civil War. The Nationalist heavy cruiser Baleares was sailing off the mainland coast in March 1938 when Republican planes torpedoed it. The ship sank with the loss of 786 lives but 435 survivors were rescued by two British ships, HMS Kempenfelt and HMS Boreas. The memorial was unveiled in 1948 by General Francisco Franco but references to the regime were removed in 2010 under the 2007 Law of Historic Memory. The memorial was rededicated to democracy at the same time.

st peters - the shipbuilding quarter of palma de mallorca
A memorial to democracy.

Santa Catalina Plaza

Santa Catalina Gate was one of the most important gates into the city before the walls were knocked down at the turn of the 20th Century. Everyone who worked on ships, ranging from fishermen, to traders, sail makers and net repairers passed through the gate to get from their homes to the docks. The entrance bridge still crosses the moat but there is an open space occupied by unusual sculptures where the gatehouse once stood.


St. Peter's Bastion and Es Baluard Art Gallery

The Moors built the first fortifications on St. Peter's Hill (Puig de Sant Pere) but work started on improving them soon after King James the Conqueror captured the city in 1229. The bastion (a high level gun platform) we see today was started at the end of the 1500's by the Italian engineer Giacomo Palearo Fratín. Vicenç Mut increased the height of the walls in the 1640's and he linked the bastion to the rest of the city walls; the final improvements were made in the 18th Century. The fortifications were closed in 1952.

Saint Peter's Bastion was acquired by Palma City Council in 1997 and it was turned into the Es Baluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art which opened in 2004. A large 17th Century water tank, called the Aljub, was uncovered during the during restoration works. An aqueduct ran across the city to St. Peter's Bastion and it provided fresh water for ships docked in the harbour.
st peters - the shipbuilding quarter of palma de mallorca
St Peter’s Bastion viewed from Santa Catalina Gate.
st peters - the shipbuilding quarter of palma de mallorca
Looking along the sea front to the Cathedral.

The art gallery occupies a large part of the fortress and the modern design uses glass and concrete to complement the ancient stone walls. There are also great views from battlements on the roof of the gallery; you can see Bellver Castle to the west, the Cathedral to the east and everything in between. There is more information about the gallery at www.esbaluard.org

Even if you do not go into the art gallery, you can climb the steps up to a viewing area and see the original Moorish fortifications below in Carrer Polvora, or Gunpowder Street, after the 18th Century gunpowder store which stood here. You can also look across the narrow streets of St Peter's Hill which have been restored. The houses around St Peter's Street could tell many tales of the sailors and fisherman who lived in them, if they could only talk.

 

Santa Cruz Church

Return to Santa Catalina Gate Plaza and head east (past the enormous sculptures of pigeons) onto Carrer Santa Cruz, or Holy Cross Street. The Church of the Holy Cross is one of the four main parochial churches in Palma and it has been the spiritual centre the Palma's fishing industry for over 600 years .

The story of the church starts at its eastern end, at the junction of Carrer Santa Creu and Carrer Sant Llorenç. Saint Lawrence's crypt is an early 14th Century chapel, one of the oldest in the city, and the separate entrance opens into an underground place of worship which has an unfinished feel, as if the builders intended to return. Church of the Holy Cross dates from 1371 and was rebuilt in the 15th Century and enlarged in the 18th Century. The main altar was financed by General Antonio Barceló (1716-1797) , who lived a short distance away in Carrer Vi; his tomb is in the Chapel of Saint Anthony.

st peters - the shipbuilding quarter of palma de mallorca
Santa Cruz Church
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st peters - the shipbuilding quarter of palma de mallorca
Jaime Ferrer's statue
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The Royal Dockyard

Head south along Carrer Sant Llorenç and turn left into Calle Sant Pedro at the end. You pass some fabulous ornate doorways before entering Drassana Plaza or Dockyard Square. The Royal Dockyard opened here in the late 1300s and many large ships where built here over the next 250 years. Everything from the hulls to the masts and the rigging to the barrels were built in the narrow streets around the square. A statue of Jaime Ferrer stands in the centre of the square. Ferrer was a 14th Century navigator who explored the west coast of Africa in 1346, travelling 2,000 miles south to Cape Verde, in modern day Sierra Leone. Check out the Map Makers webpage in the Organisations section for more information.

Leave the square by the south exit to return to the start of your walk next to the Consulat del Mar. Across the road is the tiny Chapel of Saint Elm, in the gardens of the Club Nautico. Saint Elm is the patron saint of sailors and they have been visiting the chapel for nearly 400 years. Buildings belonging to the fisherman's market fill the mole behind the chapel. The area was once alive with fisherman brining in their catches and mending their nets.

st peters - the shipbuilding quarter of palma de mallorca
Sant Elm Chapel.
st peters - the shipbuilding quarter of palma de mallorca
Fishing boats anchor alongside the fish market before the tourism boom.


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www.mallorcadaysout.com is the property of Andrew Rawson and all content is his copyright and no part of it may be reproduced without his permission. Webmaster: Ian Morrison, Apartado 59, Porto Colom 07670, Felanitx, Mallorca.


www.mallorcadaysout.com is the property of Andrew Rawson and all content is his copyright and
no part of it may be reproduced without his permission. Contact Andrew Rawson
Webmaster: Ian Morrison, Apartado 59, Porto Colom 07670, Felanitx, Mallorca.