Bellver Castle is a well-preserved 14th century circular castle straddling a wooded hillside to the west of Palma with spectacular views of the Bay of Palma and the Tramuntana mountains in the distance.
Surrounded by fragrant pine woods, the castle is unique in design and is Spain’s only round castle. Now a renowned Palma landmark located at the top of the hill Puig de Sa Mesquida, the former grand fortress and Catalan Gothic masterpiece attracts visitors by the hundreds who come to admire the architecture, the views and visit the interesting ground-floor museum.
King Jaume II gave the order for Bellver Castle to be built back in 1300 and the job was given to Pere Salva, the architect who designed the Almudaina Palace (The Royal Palace).
Bellver has three large towers surrounding a two-level central courtyard and a moat. You’ll see a contrast of architectural design as you explore the castle ranging from Gothic arches to rib-vaulting to semi-circular arches. The best way to see these contrasts is to look down at the courtyard from the roof.
The castle was built to serve as a royal residence; however with the exception of residencies by King Sanç and Joan I of Aragon, the building has spent more time as a prison than a home. Bellver Castle has hosted many prisoners over the years including King Jaume IV & King Jaume III's widow and sons and has been used as a penal institution during both the Napoleonic and Spanish Civil wars and World War II. If you visit the roof of the castle, you can see prisoners’ graffiti, carved into the stonework.
On the ground floor is Palma's museum of municipal history (Museu d’Història de la Ciutat) which follows the development of the city from the prehistoric Talayotic civilisation to the present day via its artefacts including pottery from Talaiotic, Roman, Arab and Spanish periods and classical statues from the Despuig Collection.
The central courtyard is the stage for a series of classical music concerts performed by the Balearic Symphony Orchestra each July. These open air evening concerts are very popular.
The best way to get to Bellver Castle is via car, there is parking available, alternatively combine your visit with the Palma City Sightseeing open-top bus, which stops at the castle as part of its circuit. If you use public transport, then the closest you will get is Plaça de Gomila, from there it is a 15 minute, 1km walk up a steep hill.