Palma de Mallorca is a major tourist destination for beach goers in the millions. Germans, Russians, even the Spanish come here to luxuriate in the the beach resorts that line vast sections of the island’s coast. But for a more serious tourist there is art, architecture and history, plus a neat one hour train to Sóller, a small, charming and tourist-overrun village in the mountains, in vintage wooden cars. There are galleries for the upscale buyer and for Miró fans there’s his museum and studio on high with fine views of the coast.
After the the Iberians came the Phoenicians and Greeks. The island was ruled from Rome no later than 123 BCE. Then the Arabs arrived, whose fleet moored in the harbor and convinced the islanders to submit to Islamic rule while allowing residents to maintain their religious preferences. Piracy was a significant source of wealth in the Islamic era, most likely largely due to the strategic location of the island. The city was reconquered in 1229 by Jaume (James) I of Aragon. His son built Bellver Castle and started the Cathedral. In 1391 anti-Jewish killings were widespread. Those who did not leave the island and survived were forced to convert. Two gangs ruled the island in the 17th century, when piracy was again widespread, while the Jews suffered tremendously thanks to that lovely chapter of Spanish history, the Inquisition.
The city became a tourist destination in the 1950’s. In 1960 there were 500,000 visitors, in 1997 more than 6,739,700, in 2001 more than 19,200,000 came by air and 1.5 million more by sea. This is an amazing number given how tiny the island is, and the small permanent population: Palma is the largest city with a population of a mere 400,000.
The Cathedral, called La Seu, was started in the 13th but not finished until the early 17th century. It is a Gothic structure and by no means is its exterior among the most attractive of that style. From the sea it features plain bulky buttresses, just small ‘flying’ ones reaching out to support it’s magnificent height. Inside is another matter, is sprinkled with light from the magnificent stained glass windows. The rose window is the largest of the Gothic world. The graceful interior lines make for an amazing visit.
For a resume of Gaudi’s work on the Cathedral, see http://www.gaudiclub.com/esp/e_vida/mallorca.asp In Spanish.
There are some Modernismo buildings in Palma. Modernism is the term given to the version of Art Nouveau in Spain exemplified by Gaudi.
For a change from the narrow streets of the old town and the Gaudi architecture, a common destination is the town of Sóller. It is just 30 or so kilometers from Palma by car. We took the train. The hour long journey takes you through some lovely mountain scenery, passes above and around the town then descends practically to the center.
But what’s there to eat and drink?
This was a rather tasty dish, which we had at La Botana, Career de Can Brodo (see photo below). That’s an alioli (garlic mayo) sauce on top. It covers layers of thin pork and potatoes. We had some excellent local wine, Tentacion Tempranillo 2015, a reasonable 12.50 euros a bottle. It’s a strong wine, at 14.5% (the max you can get in wine is 15%, after which the alcohol kills the yeast). Strong cherry notes after 4 months in the oak.
Want a quick bite? There’s always these empanadas, beef, chicken, veggies, sometimes with peas. They seem to like peas on the island. I’m so glad!
Then there’s “arros brut,’ their rice dish, which we did not try. And tumbet, which we really liked
Here’s a link to a much longer list, and far more than we could try in a few days.
Mallorca is much more rainy than Valencia. Winter is a good time to visit unless you want to swim. Summer is often hot and humid, depending on the direction of the wind. If from the east it is cooler.
I would not put this island on the top of places to visit. If you are down to second or third tier locations, however, it has enough charms to make it worthwhile. It is a short 45 minutes by air from Valencia, and a 20 minute ride to town from the large airport.
The first video is a small Fallas. The second is a huge one in front of city hall.
Fantastic! A major aspect of Fallas, Valencia, Spain’s annual festival. More to come!
I did these small paintings at Aranjuez, Spain. The Summer Palace of Spain is located there. I wrote a bit about Aranjuez at http://www.garyjkirkpatrick.com/aranjuez-the-summer-palace-of-the-spanish-royalty/
A fall scene at Aranjuez:
At Aranjuez is the same scene as Carmen at Aranjuez. But there is no railing separating her from the harsh reality below –it’s nearly winter, the icy gray of the cold Rio Tajo running on the backside of the Palacio. Nonetheless there is beauty of sky and the shimmering reflections to enchant, but, yet, stay back. It reminds of those mythologies we invent to account for both the cruelty and charm of existence; no wonder our deities are so self-contradicting.
I was thinking of how I would miss my new friends, the warmth of her standing there contrasting with the coldness of the water, the building, affection as a guard against life’s sometimes harsh realities.
This building sits just across from the Palace. It was built in the mid 1800’s and completely renovated.
Aranjuez is just south of Madrid and home to the summer palace. It was built in the second half of the 16th century under Phillip II. The town was originally inhabited only by the court but now is a small but vibrant town dominated by the tourists who visit the palace.
The main entrance is through a gate that leads onto a large courtyard.
Visitors would have entered through the doors to be confronted with a magnificent marble staircase and a ceiling high above. Nowadays visitors enter through a much smaller entrance in the Renaissance style wing. This style features a rather flat presentation, with pediments of various sorts adoring the windows. Here you can also see the Romanesque arches, rounded versus the sharper edges of the Gothic style.
The interior visitors access is limited to two floors. Once you climb the main staircase there perhaps a dozen rooms. Some are more what you might expect in terms of high and painted ceilings, luxurious furnishings, and rich colors. Others are intensely decorated with ceramics:
The palace sits on the conjunction of two rivers, the Tagus and Jarama. The rivers feed numerous fountains and maintain the extensive gardens.
Nearby is the Palcio de Sivela, built in 1860 and completely restored in 1988. Here is my impression of it
The pen and ink—
Originals starting at $25!
Park Crowd Scene
I did this one during a parade. That is one stunningly beautiful and large tree!
Still Life Fruit and Spanish Wine
I did this in our apartment overlooking Plaza Cisneros, near Torres de Serrano in Valencia. Everything in the picture is from Spain:
Note there is no border on the actual drawing.
Waitin’ On The Bus
I fell for this: innocence connecting with the risk of entering the big world of independence:
Self Portrait At Fat Margaret Square in Tallinn, Estonia
St Stephens Gate, Rome
Bass Violin Player
Continuing the exploration of music related themes, here I add the movement of the arm and the swing of the leg to contrast with the movement in the background. This is acrylics on paper. The curvaceous movement of the leg ties with the curve of the contrabass, as they seem to dance across the stage. Strong and unusual colors make the painting dance off the wall.
Part of the Palau de la Music Series. Muses prepare the stage and the instruments for the performance so musicians step into the realm of creativity.
The paintings and drawings in this video slide show were done at Palau de la Musica, Valencia. They explore the state of mind we experience as music transports us to a semi dream-like state. The paintings and drawings in this video slide show were done at Palau de la Musica, Valencia. They explore the state of mind we experience as music transports us to a semi dream-like state. The music is Arco de Noe by Oscar Navarro, a Valencian composer. He was in the audience the day we heard this piece.