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The Rambla & Saint James



Joan Carlos I Plaza

Joan Carlos I Plaza is surrounded by huge Gothic and Renaissance buildings which are now shops and apartments. The central feature of the roundabout is called La Font de les Tortugues, or the Turtle Fountain, because the obelisk stands on four bronze turtles. It was dedicated to Princess Isabella II. Sphinx sculptures complete the Egyptian theme of the square. Check out the Plaza Major to Plaza Mercat route to find out more about the plaza and its surroundings.

Head east along Calle Unió noting Casa Balaguer across the road. The building was originally called Can Sanglada and belonged to the Marquis of Reguer. The musician José Balaguer gave the house its current name.

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
Joan Carlos I Plaza
and the Turtle Fountain.

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
The entrance to the
Caputxines Church.

The Caputxines Church and Convent

After 150 metres turn left into the narrow street called Calle de las Caputxines and follow it to the entrance of the church. There are several impressive manor houses on Calle Serinyà, Calle de las Caputxines and Calle Campaner. The church and convent were founded in 1668 by three Sisters. Sister Clara Gurrea Ponce de Leon was the widow of Viceroy José de Torres who died chasing bandits out of the city. She was buried in the church when she died in 1705. The convent's elegant cloister and garden are hidden behind a high wall. Turning right from the church door, follow the convent wall to end where you will see a painting at on the corner which remembers a 17th Century legend. The story goes that Satan appeared in front of Sister Joana Borràxs Noguera and stopped her crossing the Rambla. She could only complete her journey after Jesus appeared and defeated the Devil.

The Rambla dels Ducs de Palma

Just in front is the Rambla dels Ducs de Palma, or the Avenue of the Dukes of Palma, a wide tree-lined avenue where flower sellers and market traders display their wares. However, it was not always this way because the River Riera ran along the route before turning right into the Market Square. The stream originates in the mountains around Puigpunyent and in October 1403 torrential rains caused devastation in Palma when the river broke its banks and destroyed around 1,000 houses. Over 5,500 people were killed in the floods, resulting in a new nickname for the river; it was called the 'Funeral'. The city council planned to divert the river around the city and the people of Palma watched in fear as the waters rose every winter. However, it took until 1613 to move it to what is now Paseo Mallorca, on the western side of the city when the walls were rebuilt.

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
The Rambla dels Ducs de Palma.

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
The Church of Santa
Teresa de Jesus.

The Church of Santa Teresa de Jesus

Half way down the Ramblas, on the right hand side, is the Church of St Teresa of Jesus and its Carmelite Convent. It was founded in 1614 by Sister Leonor Ortiz and Canon Bartholomew Llull was the architect during the main building phase between 1634 and 1648. The private convent was created out of converted houses in the 17th Century while the cloisters were created out of the gardens.

The College of Law

Continue up the Rambla past the fountain and after 50 metres you will see the decorated facade of the Legal College on the right. The college is on Via Roma, so named because a large proportion of the 79,000 Italian soldiers who served during the Spanish Civil War were based on Mallorca.

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
The College of Law.
Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
The Building of Mercy.

Cross the road to see the large four-storey La Misericordia, or Building of Mercy. The original building was built as an orphanage and refuge for the elderly in the 1820s. What we see today was started by Joan Sureda and completed by Joan Guasp in 1896.

Head up the road called Costa de la Sang on the left side of the building and turn right into Hospital Plaza. Pass through the archway to the right to see the Building of Mercy's square with its elegant porticos.

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
Inside the Building of Mercy’s courtyard.

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
The entrance to the
Church of Christ's Blood.

The Church of Christ's Blood

Return to Hospital Plaza and walk through the archway at the west side of the square to find the church. The surrounding buildings are still a working outpatient's unit, so please act accordingly. By the 15th Century there were seven church hospitals in Palma and they were united at the request of the Grand and General Council in the 1456. A combined hospital was founded by Franciscans monks under Brother Bartolome Catañy and their church was dedicated to Our Lady of Annunciation in 1468. Brother Catañy had died in 1462 but he had lived long enough to see the hospital open; his glass fronted tomb can still be visited in the church. The hospital had male and female wards and a children's infirmary and while the monks looked after the patients, a doctor and a surgeon visited twice a day. A pharmacy dispensed the primitive cures of the day while the bakery made bread. The church was rededicated to the Blood of Christ in the 16th Century. You will see the elegant two storey porticos as you leave the church.

The Church of Santa Magdalena

On leaving Hospital Plaza, retrace your steps towards the Ramblas but turn right into Santa Magdalena Plaza. Santa Magdalena Church dates from 1740 and it is the home of the tomb of Santa Catalina Tomás, Mallorca’s saint. Outside the door is a bust of Cardinal Antonio Dameto Despuig who promoted her beatification; he died in 1813 en route to Rome to petition Pope Pius VII. His body was returned to Mallorca and he was buried in front of her eerie glass fronted tomb.

The convent was originally a hospital founded by the Earl of Ampuries in 1230, immediately after the city was captured from the Moors. It was converted into a convent for repentant women in 1309 and joined the St. Augustine Order 40 years later. The priory, chapter house and cloisters date from the 16th Century and many widows from Palma's noble families entered the convent.

 

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
The Church of Santa Magdalena with Cardinal Despuig's bust outside.

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
The Church of St James.

The Church of St James

Head south down Calle Sant Jaime, where the huge house frontages close in on the narrow cobbled street. Halfway down, on the left hand side is the Church of St James. The church was built by Jordi Pujol in 1327 while the entrance, which has St. James above the door, was added by Miquel Thomas in 1776. In the Blessed Sacrament Chapel is a tomb where the hearts of the Masters of the Order of Saint John of Malta, Rafel and Nicolau Cotoner, are buried.

 

Continue down Calle Sant Jaime and as the street gets narrower, the buildings get taller. There are many manor houses with fine courtyards lining the street and by the time you reach Plaza Joan Carlos I, the roofs are almost touching. Once in the square, turn right along Avenida Jaime III, noting the sculpture of the King known as the Unfortunate on the opposite wall. Check out the Battle of Llucmajor webpage to find out how he got his nickname and how he lost the Kingdom of Mallorca.

 

 

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
Majestic houses line
Calle Sant Jaime.

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
The Fountain of the Sepulchre.

The Fountain of the Sepulchre

Turn right up Calle de la Concepión after 50 metres and you will find the Fountain of the Sepulchre on the right after 75 metres. It is an underground water tank built in the 10th Century by the Moors and it was given to the Knights Templar following the conquest of Mallorca in 1229. Underground tunnels brought water from the river which ran through the city and it was an important place for the people who live in the area. Ca'n Castello is now the d'Estalvis de Balear and the garden area is an unusual sight in this part of the city. The building was also known as Can Fonticheli after the Genoese merchants who lived here in the 18th Century.

Church and Convent of the Immaculate Conception

Continue north up Calle de la Concepión to find the 16th Century Church of the Immaculate Conception. Inside is the Sant Crist del Noguer, or the Christ of the Walnut, an image of Christ on the cross found carved on a walnut tree in the 16th Century. The tomb of Sister Catherine Maura of Saint Tomas de Vilanova is in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Incarnation. The 15th Century convent and gardens originally belonged to the Zaforteza family and they are hidden behind a large wall.

Retrace your steps to Plaza Joan Carlos I to complete your visit of the Saint James district of Palma.

 

Saint James and the Rambla, palma de mallorca, majorca
Church and Convent
of the Immaculate Conception


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