Day 2,116 of Traveling the World | Palma de Mallorca, Spain | November 16, 2023

With great anticipation, we approached an island we had never before visited – Mallorca. Its capital and largest city, Palma, is dominated from the sea with a view of its great Gothic cathedral, Santa Maria of Palma. While the exterior is very imposing, set up on a hill and surrounded by old city walls, the inside is dizzying and dazzling. Your eyes desperately try to look everywhere at once and grasp what you are seeing. But here, s-ll-ooooo-www observation is the prescription, and then it makes sense. The altar area has lights everywhere, along with a baldachin (canopy) meant to resemble the crown of thorns over the altar itself, adding to the majesty. The giant window behind the altar reflects its bright colors all along the side walls, even over the organ pipes. There seems to be one wild view after another. The side altar has an overlay, installed in 2004, depicting the loaves and fishes miracle, but includes serpents and a pile of skulls. Skulls appear a lot on the floor, likely tombs of local bishops or wealthy patrons. What a place!

It is fun to walk along the top of the city walls, stretching out to either side of the cathedral. The trick is knowing when to exit, as there are very long stretches where you are simply stuck – to walk ahead, not knowing how far you will have to go, OR to go back to the exit you passed 10 minutes ago? We did have to return to the ship by 4:30…….

The island’s history is a series of conquests and reconquests – the Romans, the Muslims, the Christians, the Moors, the Byzantines, the Vikings, then pirates – all claimed Mallorca at various times. With all this history and the fact that in the 16th century the pirate problem was so bad that the King of Spain considered abandoning Mallorca and the rest of the Balearic Islands, it is easy to understand why their cathedral looks like a combination of church and fortress.

Today the visitors are much friendlier. Mallorca is a major tourist destination. Although the island is occupied by fewer than one million residents, the airport is one of the largest in Spain, serving more than 28 million passengers per year. It is easy to see why, as it is so beautiful and so warm. In the summer, it can reach up to 100 degrees F, and the low average in the winter is about 60 degrees F. Just a delightful place.

Our day in Mallorca started with a beautiful, gleaming sun – not too hot, not too cold.
The Marina had a few yachts, but mostly smaller pleasure boats.
The old city walls extend along the Balearic Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean.
Between the city walls and the ocean is this pretty lagoon, part of Parc de la Mar.
We have noticed this in several cities lately: vendors put out their goods – purses, jewelry, or 1-euro souvenirs – on a sheet. The police drive by every hour or so and chase them away, as they do not have permits. When they see the police coming toward them, they bundle up their items in the sheet and walk in the opposite direction. Once the police are gone, they open up the sheet, rearrange their sale items, and continue to do business. It seems like a waste of time on everyone’s part.
Approaching Mallorca Cathedral (Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, 1229-1601) from the marina. It is a huge structure on a relatively small island.
View from the rear of the cathedral. The round stained glass window over the altar area is much more vivid in person.
The altar area is dazzling – no other word for it – and very busy! Parts of it were designed by Antonio Gaudi, of La Sagrada Familia fame. The baldachin (canopy) over the main altar is meant to resemble the Crown of Thorns.
This cave-like wall installation in the side chapel is a modern depiction of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and was completed in 2004. The window treatments look dark blue, but in person, they were clearly black.
You can see this fish/serpent in the previous photo, above, on the left toward the bottom. It isn’t quite the placid, dead fish you see in paintings of the loaves and fishes.
Stained glass window to stained glass window across the vaulted ceiling, front to back. The front window, at the top, looks like a box of children’s balls.
The window of “children’s balls” cast this lovely reflection onto the organ pipes.
The side altars and windows are a bit more “traditional,” but the colored glass used is deep and lustrous.
One of several skull and crossbones we saw inlaid in the floor, likely denoting a tomb.
Museu Diocesa, a Christian museum in a 13th century bishop’s residence.
A typical street here in Mallorca, filled with shops, but not wide enough for anything but a motorcycle or scooter.
This was sunset as we departed Barcelona for Mallorca, which is out there somewhere in the distance.

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