Castell de Beller (Bellver castle) is a unique Gothic castle built in the early 14th century. In Catalan, the word bellver means “beautiful view” (bell, veer), because of its location at the summit of a hill in 112 meters height above Palma. From the Bellver you have clear views of the Palma bay, city, Serra de Tramuntana and the plains of Mallorca.
There are just three similar castles in Europe; Restormel (Cornwall, England), Michelstetten (Asparn an der Zaya, Austria) and Castel del Monte (Andria, Italy).
History of Castell de Bellver
Bellver was ordered constructed by king Jaume II of Mallorca, in the early 14th century, as royal residence and fortress.
There are multiple theories about who the original master architect of the Bellver castle was. It is, however, most likely that it was Ponç Descoll, a military engineer whom also designed the round Jewish enclosure in the city of Perpignan, known as “le Call”, just as the Jewish quarter in Palma was called “la Call”. Perpignan (France) was the official seat of the king of Mallorca, and we know that Ponç Descoll was also the main architect behind the first Trinity chapel in the la Seu cathedral. He was also in charge of renovating the Angel Tower in the Almudaina palace.
Descoll was known for his style that often combined the robustness of fortifications with austere grace.
Another protagonist in the construction of Castell de Bellver is Pere Salvà, whom is often accounted as the most influential builder of the castle and received highest payments.
Salvà was particularly known for using stones from Santanyí, because the original stones from quarries on the same hill did not hold. This gave rise to Santanyís stone production industry that is still considered one of the best in Spain.
The castle was officially finished in 1314, and king Sanç occasionally resided here.
In 1343, during the occupation of the island by Aragonese-Catalan king Peter III, the castle was too sieged. After the defeat of king Jaume III of Mallorca, resistant Mallorcans was imprisoned here.
In 1395, John I of Aragón lived here when he escaped the plague that ravaged Barcelona at the time.
In 1408, Martin the Humane gave the castle to the Carthusian monks of Valldemossa.
In July, 1521, the city of Palma came under siege when a revolt led by artisan guilds took control of the city, which caused all nobles to take refuge in the castle. This was the beginning of the violent time of “les Germanies” (the Brotherhoods), which led to two years of war on the island.
In 1523, the leaders of les Germanies were executed here.
From 1802 – 1808, Spanish minister of justice, Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, was imprisoned here as the first political prisoner.
During the Spanish-French war, prisoners of the Battle of Bailén (1808) was kept here.
The last time Bellver was used as a prison was during the revolt that started the Spanish Civil War (1936), when 800 republicans were imprisoned here. During their time here, they were forced to build the access road that goes from Palma to the castle.
Of special interest in Castell de Bellver
1. The famous prison of l’Olla (the pot) in the basement of the main tower.
2. The chapel behind the semicircular arched gallery is decorated with columns with Mudejar pottery.
Palma history museum
Inside Castell de Bellver you will also find the history museum of Palma, and incredible collection of artifacts collected from Roman, Moorish and medieval times that compose the unique story of the capital.
Get directions to the Bellver castle
Palma is the capital of Mallorca and seat of the Balearic government. Palma was founded during the occupation of the Roman empire, about 123 BC, and later developed by the Moors and Catalans. Palma has several times been awarded best place in the world to live; it is a city of great diversity, cultural heritage and commercial activity, making it an attractive city to a broad audience. Palma is one of the best places in Spain to go shopping, all the new arrivals from other Mediterranean capitals arrive here before other places in the world, plus, there are hundreds of local specialty boutiques.
The rich history of Palma has left an incredible amount of landmarks and points of interest to discover i.e. the Arabian baths, the cathedral, the Bellver castle, the Almudaina palace etc., as well as hundreds of other unique constructions perfect for sightseeing in the city.
More fortresses and exhibitions
Mallorca's Top sightseeing attractions
Palma cathedral La Seu is an amazing sight, both from the inside and outside. Palma cathedral is one of the biggest in Europe, and great artists like Gaudi have worked on the amazing temple. There are guided tours and you can even visit the rooftop terraces offering magical views.
The Antique Train
The antique train is a great attraction for young and adults. The ride takes you through some of the most beautiful areas of the Tramuntana, passing through orange plantations, olive groves and green valleys. The authentic feeling of the old marhogany cars bumping along the rails completes the experience.
Castell de Bellver
Castell de Bellver is a unique castle, due to its round shape and splendid location on a hilltop above Palma's bay. Much of Mallorca's most dramatic times are linked to the Bellver castle, and you will also find Palma's historical museum here. It's a great attraction for all ages.
Cuevas del Drach
Cuevas del Drach (Dragon Caves) is a great attraction to visit for all ages. Inside the stalagmite and stalactite caves in Porto Cristo, you will meet a true wonder of nature, along with the biggest underground lake in Europe on which an orchester will play a beautiful live concert on before you can enjoy a short ride.
Santuari de Lluc
Santuari de Lluc is a monastery situated deep in the highest areas of the Tramuntana, in divine natural surroundings. Lluc is a great attraction for everyone, you can discover the ethnological museum, enjoy a concert by the famous child choir, visit the botanical gardens and see the holy Madonna.
A visit to the ethnological museum of La Granja in the mountain village of Esporles takes you on an interesting journey back in time to discover how life in mallorca was for the wealthy landowners and their servants. La Granja is a museum suitable for all ages, there is plenty to see and do here for young and adults.
Sa Dragonera is an island and protected nature reserve just off the coast of Sant Elm, Andratx. Sa Dragonera is home to indigenious lizards that are very human-friendly, and has become a trademark of Mallorca. About on the beautiful island, you can walk along multiple trails to some of the most amazing vantage points and find ancient watchtowers from the time of pirates.
The royal Almudaina Palace is closely linked to multiple epochs in the history of Mallorca. The ancient palace was built as the seat for the Moorish governor back in the 10th century, and was the first building in the city of Palma as we know it today. Inside you will discover an impressive collection of ancient artifacts and artworks, along with the authentic surroundings of the palace that is now used by the royalties of Spain when visiting the island.