Palma Old Town: history, tradition and a lot of life

Just setting foot in the historic centre of Palma is a real treat for the senses. The combination of its impressive architecture, centuries-old culture, exceptional amenities and leisurely pace of life enchants everyone who visits it. Don't miss the natural charm of Palma's Old Town and the endless options it offers.

History of Palma's Old Town

The Balearic Islands have a long history due to their privileged position in the Mediterranean. Throughout the ages it has been a passing place for ships manned by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs... Naturally, Palma, as the capital of the largest island, also played a great role in history as a transit point and a land of opportunities.

It was the Romans who founded the city of Palma in 123 B.C. However, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, Palma was occupied and dominated by the Arabs for three centuries. Finally, in 1229, Palma returned to Christianity after being conquered by King James I of Aragon.

During this last period, the city's most emblematic buildings were built, such as the Cathedral, Bellver Castle and the church of Santa Eulalia, all of them in the Gothic style. Although not all of Palma's important buildings are Gothic. Later baroque and modernist buildings also stand out in the capital, some of which have been refurbished and converted into luxury apartments and boutique hotels.

This fusion of past cultures and artistic styles is what gave the city of Palma its special physiognomy and character, which it still retains today.

Discover Palma Old Town

Simply strolling through its narrow streets is a cultural experience in itself. However, these are the buildings and places that you cannot miss in order to understand and appreciate the authentic charm of Palma:

  • La Seu. This is the name given to the Cathedral of Mallorca. Although many also call it the Cathedral of Light because of its 60 large windows and its spectacular central rose window, also known as the Gothic eye. You can visit the impressive exterior, the interior with works by Gaudí and Miquel Barceló, and even its rooftop! The experience and the views are well worth it.

  • Royal Palace of La Almudaina. This is the official residence of the King and Queen during their stays in Mallorca and, together with Palma Cathedral, is a scenic landmark. Here you can contemplate and learn a great deal about the different artistic styles that make up the island's history.

  • Parc de la Mar. Located below the Cathedral, in front of the medieval walls that protect the area, it has a huge saltwater lake, a large grassy area and a playground for children. Undoubtedly, a perfect place to relax, enjoy the views and the events that take place, mainly in summer.

  • La Llotja. It is another example of the Gothic style in the capital. Located in the same square as the Llotja, it was built in the 13th century due to the great activity that existed in the port and was the headquarters of the Colegio de la Mercadería. If you wish to see the interior, you can only do so in the case of temporary exhibitions.

  • Plaza Mayor. What was the seat of the Inquisition in Mallorca until 1838 is now one of the city's most important places. Many of the tourists and passers-by who cross the streets of Palma pass through here. The main shopping and pedestrian streets of the city, such as Sant Miquel, Jaume II and Sindicat, connect in this square.

  • Plaza de Cort. This is the site of Palma Link's historic Town Hall: built in the mid-17th century, and the century-old "Olivera de Cort", considered a symbol of peace. Don't hesitate to make a stop in this square and admire its historic and inspiring nature.

Although these are the most outstanding buildings and places, there are several gems that you can find around the city while walking, such as: the modernist building Can Forteza Rey, Almacenes el Águila or Can Casasayas and Pensión Menorquina. And if you want to walk along long and beautiful avenues, you can't miss Paseo del Borne, also known as the golden mile, La Rambla, Paseo Sagrera and Paseo Dalt Murada.


What to do in the centre of Palma?

There is no doubt that Palma stands out for its historical attractions and peaceful walks, but there is much more to do in the centre of Mallorca depending on your tastes.

  • Museums. Enjoy endless cultural possibilities. Es Baluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is one of the largest and best known, where you can see works by local and international artists with a connection to the island. In addition to its art, the views are spectacular. Another option is CaixaForum Gran Hotel, a clear example of modernist architecture that hosts exhibitions of all kinds. If you like contemporary Spanish art, your place is the Joan March Foundation On the other hand, if you prefer more historical themes, you will find them at the Museum of Mallorca. Finally, if you are interested in Mallorcan religious art, visit the Museo de Arte Sacro (Museum of Sacred Art), very close to the Cathedral.

  • Theatres. Spend a good time amidst plays and shows. Right in the centre of Palma is the Teatro Principal, where you can marvel at its varied programme of plays, operas and concerts. Other charming theatres are: the Teatro Sans and the Teatro Municipal Xesc Forteza, in the Old Quarter, and the Auditorium de Palma, in the Paseo Marítimo area.

  • Shopping. To go shopping in the historic centre, follow a route that includes the main shopping streets full of local shops and big brands: Paseo del Borne, with the most luxurious shops on the island, Avenida Jaime III, San Miguel, Sindicato and Jaime II. You will also discover shops with a lot of magic such as the chocolate shop La Pajarita, the old Paraguas shop, or the toy shop La Industrial.


Where to eat in Palma's Old Town

Tapas, tasting menus, typical dishes, fusion cuisine... you can find a large number of restaurants and bars with very varied and, above all, very tempting menus!

  • The Borne area is full of beautiful terraces where you can enjoy a quiet drink in the open air. Here you will find: the restaurant De Tokio a Lima, where you can enjoy a delicious Japanese, Peruvian and Mediterranean fusion. La Malvasia, where you can eat exquisite dishes with quality Mediterranean ingredients. Café Rialto, where you can start the day with one of the best breakfasts in Palma. And, of course, the Aromata Restaurant by the decorated Mallorcan chef Andreu Genestra.

  • La Lonja and Calatrava. The historic neighbourhood of La Lonja, located next to the La Lonja building, is one of the liveliest areas for bars, restaurants, even clubs. Indulge in La Bóveda, with the famous Mallorcan ''pa amb oli''. And, if you want to experience a gastronomic journey based on the traditional cuisine of the Balearic Islands, make a reservation at the DINS Santi Taura restaurant, awarded a Michelin star in the 2021 guide and located next to the Cathedral.

  • La Ruta Martiana. Every Tuesday evening, in and around the Sa Gerreria neighbourhood, the city's best-known tapas route takes place. Molta Barra, l'Ambigú or Cala Seu are some of the places where you can order the best pinchos accompanied by a good wine or a cool "caña". If you want to have a drink in a place that is authentic and different from the rest, head for Sa Juguetería, a bar with a peculiar decoration that will take you back to your childhood.

And for the ideal snack or coffee, you can't miss the classics: Can Joan de s'Aigo, where we recommend an ensaimada or cuarto with a hot chocolate or homemade ice cream. And Bar Bosch, where you can try one of the best "llonguets" in Palma.

Main events in the historic centre of Palma

To get to know its most authentic traditions, culture and art, attend the main events held in the Old Town, where surprises and emotions are guaranteed!

Sant Sebastià and Sant Joan. Sant Sebastià, Palma's patron saint, is celebrated on 20th January. As it is the "city's festival", various special activities are organised for around 15 days, such as: concerts in the main squares, "foguerons" and "torradas", the traditional "correfocs", etc. Sant Joan, on the other hand, is celebrated on the night of the 23rd and all day on the 24th of June with special attractions in the Parc de la Mar and Playa de Palma.

La Nit de l'Art is the most important art event in Palma and is held in mid-September. During this evening, thousands of people take to the streets to visit the main galleries and museums that inaugurate their exhibitions. You can find all the information about the event on the website of its organiser: Art Palma Contemporani.

Film festivals. Palma hosts two major international film festivals: the Evolution Film Festival and the International Atlantida Mallorca Film Fest. Another way of experiencing the cinema is the "Cinema a la fresca", where films are shown outdoors during the summer months. It used to take place in the Parc de la Mar. However, these last two years it has taken place in Ses Voltes.

These are the main annual events, but there are many more. Discover all the events available on the Town Hall's cultural agenda.


Living in Palma Old Town

It is clear that if you want to live in the centre of a slow city, Palma Old Town is ideal for you. Here you will find a balance between the traditional and the contemporary, a less frenetic pace of life and a great deal of civic engagement that enhances the quality of life of the inhabitants.

If you are thinking about your children's education, Palma will not disappoint you either. It has a diverse range of international schools where the British, American and German curricula are taught.

For relaxation and wellbeing, there are also several yoga centres in the city that will help you contribute to the slow lifestyle. Some of them are: Espaioga, Yogaflowstudio or Aim Satyananda Yoga.

In terms of transport and infrastructures, Palma has the best public transport connections and a large pedestrian area for strolling around the Old Town. And not only on foot... You can also get around the old town and the Paseo Marítimo by bike!

If you end up falling in love with this unique part of the city, Living Blue Mallorca can help you find the right house or flat in Palma for you. Do not hesitate to contact us, our international team will offer you our exclusive offers in the Old Town of Palma and an excellent personal attention.

Your dream home exists, it is waiting for you at Living Blue Mallorca.

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