The vast, beautiful and historic Palma Cathedral ('La Seu' in Catalan) is without question, the major architectural landmark in the capital city. The awesome predominantly Gothic 14th century structure is located in the heart of the city and the sheer scale of the golden sandstone building makes it impossible to miss.
Climbing high above the old city walls, the cathedral is the glory of Palma, a magnificent demonstration of the wealth and strength of the island’s Christian conquerors, from the sea, it is a superb sight.
One of Europe’s tallest Gothic structures, La Seu stands out from its surroundings, located prominently above Parc de Mar with its sandstone exterior and flying buttresses, it truly is a grand building. With the exception of the main façade, which is beautiful and obviously mongrel, the cathedral is a superb example of Gothic architecture.
Parc de Mar is an artificial lake; which was created in the 70s. This is a great spot for taking photographs.
La Seu occupies the site of what once was the central mosque of Medina Mayurka, the capital of Muslim Mallorca for 300 years. The story behind the cathedral is long and full of interesting twists but began with the young King Jaume 1 who vowed to build a grand cathedral if he was successful in surviving a storm and also ridding the island of Moors. He did just that but It didn’t happen quickly though! King Jaume conquered the city in 1229 but work on the cathedral did not begin for a further 71 years and was not completed until 1601.
Cathedral of Light
La Seu was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1851 and it was at this time that some neo-Gothic elements such as pinnacles and flying buttresses were added resulting in a hybrid of the Renaissance original.
It is only when you enter the cathedral and see the 61 beautiful stained-glass windows crowned by the spectacular central rose window that you understand why La Seu is also called the ‘Cathedral of Light’. The rose window is 12m across and studded with 1,236 pieces of stained glass.
The most famous architect to be involved with Palma Cathedral is Antoni Gaudí who was involved with some changes in the early 20th century. Above the alter, you will see an enormous crown-of-thorns illuminated canopy, which is attributed to Gaudí but was actually the work of one of his apprentices. Further changes occurred in the 21st century by Mallorcan artist Miquel Barceló.
Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy the cathedral’s roof terraces and it is from here that you get to see the rose window close up. You can also access the bell tower and buttresses in addition to the corridor between the two main towers. The views of Palma and the sea are spectacular from there. Be aware that there is no lift to the terraces but there are nearly 300 steps and that visits to the terraces must be booked in advance and numbers are limited. Mass times vary, but one always takes place at 9am Monday to Saturday.
Further information can be found on the official website – catedraldemallorca.org
Insider Tip: Skip the rented tablet devices. Explore the cathedral with a downloadable audio guide app on your own phone.