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Plaza Major & Plaza Mercat



the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
Plaza Major

Plaza Major

Plaza Mayor, or the Big Square, is a large rectangular open space surrounded by a colonnade of restaurants and bars. It is typical of plazas found on mainland Spain and it dates from the second half of the 19th Century. The House of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, otherwise known as the Casa Negra or Black House, stood at the west end and for 300 years it targeted the Jewish community. The building was demolished in 1820 after the Inquisition closed down. Check out the Inquisition webpage in the Organisations section.

A plaque remembers the religious scholar Ramon Llull in the northeast corner of the plaza (check out the Randa webpage in the Pla section to find out more). The bust by the east exit remembers Gabriel Fuster Mayans , nicknamed 'Gafim', who arranged meetings in the square so farmers could discuss agricultural affairs.

Plaza Marques del Palmer

Head south from Plaza Major through Plaza Marques del Palmer and look up to the right at the modernist houses called 'El Aguila' or 'The Eagle'. They were designed by Gaspar Bennasar and Jaume Alenya and the riot of decoration was influenced by Antonio Gaudí.

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
The Eagle House.

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
Banco Espanyol.

Carrer de St. Bartholomew

Turn right down the narrow Carrer de les Monges (Nuns Street) and note the plaque on the right remembering the Mallorcan poet and philologist, Marian Aguilo (1825-1897). The alley turns sharp left into Carrer de St. Bartholomew where you will find several fine manor houses. The ornate Bank of Spain building (originally the Bank Balear) on the left dates from 1872.

Casa Tagamanent is a huge house overlooking a small square and a plaque over the door recalls when Santa Catalina Tomas, Mallorca's first saint, lived here with Baron Mateu Zafortesa. Continue to the junction with Calle Jaume II and if you look up you will see Can Corbella's minaret style tower. Continue along Calle Sant Domingo and climb the steps at the end onto Calle Conquistador.

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
Casa Tagamanent.


Calle Conquistador

Walk down Calle Conquistador, or Conqueror Street, past the huge building which was once home to the 'Circulo Mallorquin' and is now the seat of the Balearic Parliament. It was designed by the architect Miquel Madorell i Ruis and completed by Joan Sureda i Veri in 1913. The main feature amongst the ornate balconies is the huge shield of Majorca.

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
The Balearic Parliament building.

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
Joan Alcover's Memorial

Plaza Reina

Plaza Reina, or the Queen's Square, is the busy roundabout and fountain at the bottom of Calle Conquistador. Queen Isabella II was born in 1830 and her father, King Ferdinand VII, introduced the Pragmatic Sanction so that she would succeed him rather than his brother Carlos. She was declared queen regnant three years later when Ferdinand died and her mother Maria became Regent of Spain. Opponents to the succession were known as Carlists and they finally usurped Isabella in 1868. A statue in the centre of the roundabout was torn down at the same time. There is a monument to Joan Alcover, writer, poet and politician, in the gardens on the east side of the roundabout.

Paseo de Born

The view up the tree lined avenue is a delight as the sun streams through the canopy of branches onto the wide pedestrian area. But it was not always like this. The River Riera once ran down the street and it became a dividing line between the Espanyol and Armadams families. In 1489 one of the Espanyol maids accidently dropped a pitcher of water from a window, nearly hitting Jaime Armadams. He burst into the house and reprimanded the servant, insulting the Espanyol family. They retaliated, breaking into the Armadams house that night, stabbing Jaime and injuring his wife. The two heads of the family were exiled for a time while tempers died down but the next time they met in the Church of Saint Francesc a pitched battle involving around 300 resulted in several deaths and many injured.

The Riera River was rerouted around the western side of the city walls in the early 1600s, following several serious floods. Once the riverbed had dried out it was levelled out. The layout we see today was designed by Llorenç Muntaner and it was completed in 1833.

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
Looking back down the Paseo de Born

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
Turtle Fountain in Joan
Carlos I Plaza.

Plaza Joan Carlos I

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.

The building to the left (west) is Solleric Palace which is decorated by a combination of sculptures and paintings. The Marques of Solleric had estates around Sóller and on the mainland and made his money from his fleet of ships. The building was completed in 1763 and it has a large courtyard with a grand arch, ornate columns and a large double staircase leading to the balcony. The Palace is now a tourist information centre and an art gallery.

The word Born stems from the ancient Catalan verb for joust. In medieval times the barons would have gathered to watch their sons gallop along the riverbanks in head to head contests. A plaque on the building next to Solleric Palace remembers the avenue's past. Just around the corner on Avenida Jaime III is another plaque of King Jaime III the 'Unfortunate'; check out the Battle of Llucmajor webpage in the events section to discover how he got his nickname.

On the opposite side of the plaza the avenue, at the entrance to Calle Jovellanos, is the head of a Moor. It remembers how a Muslim slave was beheaded after murdering his master, Father Mascort Marti in 1731. The slave's offending hand was also cut off and displayed near the scene of the crime in what is now called Hand of the Moor Street.

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.

 

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
Solleric Palace.

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
Antonio Maura's memorial.

Plaza Mercat

A little further along Calle Unió is Plaza Mercat, or Market Place. The monument to Antonio Maura (1853-1925) with Marià Benlliure's sculpture symbolizing 'the truth' is in the centre. Maura was Prime Minister five times between 1904 and 1921, when Spain's politics were in turmoil. Although he reformed legislation he had to suppress the 'Tragic Week' riots in Barcelona in 1909 and was forced to resign following the execution of the leader, Francisco Ferrer.

 

Behind Maura's statue is Church of St. Nicholas of Bari, dedicated to the patron saint of sailors. The focal point of the church is the 18th Century hexagonal bell tower but the church is far older and the building we see today was reformed in 1681. A stone cast into the north wall was Santa Catalina's seat which was in Santa Magdalena's Convent until it was closed down in 1826. The church has two ornate doors; walk around the left hand side of the church to see them both. You will also see a bust of Frédéric Chopin in the square opposite the south door.

The tomb of General José Vallejo, who served in the War of the Spanish Succession and the conquest of Oran before he was General of Mallorca, is in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. There is an unusual relic in the Chapel of the Holy Family; the head of Pope St. Calixtus who was martyred by the Romans in the 3rd Century.

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
St.Nicholas's bell tower.

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
Can Berga, serves as Palma's courthouse.

 

The Palace of Justice

Return to the Market Place and take note of the modernist apartment fronts next to Can Berga, the huge building at the southeast corner which is Palma's courthouse. The Arab palace was handed over to the Augustinian Order following the conquest in 1229. Franciscans then lived in the building until it was sold to Hugo de Pacs and it passed to the Santacília family in 1600. The house was transferred to the Berga family in 1677 but lawsuits a century later split the estate between the two sides of the Zaforteza family. The building was bought by the Ministry of Justice in 1950. The Berga shield is still over the door and it opens into an 18th Century courtyard with a large central staircase and a shield symbolising the union of all the Mallorcan families.

 

Weyler Plaza

Head east into Weyler Plaza and you will see Grand Hotel with its extravagant facade on the left hand side of the road. The building was designed by Lluis Domenech and built by Jaume Aleña in 1901 as a prototype of the Palace of Music in Barcelona. Many Italian pilots who flew bombing missions over the mainland stayed here during the Spanish Civil War . It is now home to art exhibitions.

 

 

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
The Grand Hotel

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
The Forn Theatre

The Forn Theatre

The delightful Forn Theatre is on the right hand side of the road; it is now a cafe.

The Principal Theatre
Continue east along Plaza Weyler to the early 19th Century Principal Theatre on the right. It was known as the 'Comedy House' when it opened. It was rebuilt in 1858 and decorated with paintings and over the past 200 years it has staged everything from concerts and plays to cultural events and political meetings.

Just beyond the Theatre climb the steps to the right return to Plaza Major.

the plaza major and plaza mercat walk in palma de mallorca
The Principle Theatre
(Teatro Principal)



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