Palma Cathedral La Seu

la seu gothic cathedral in palma mallorca on the balearic islands in spain
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The history of Palma cathedral

The history of Palma’s cathedral is closely linked to the autochthonous monarchy of Mallorca that was founded after the conquest in 1229.

It was King Jaume I of Aragón whom conquered Mallorca from the Moors. At that time, Palma was named Medina Mayurqa and, on this exact site the main mosque was standing. Soon after the conquest, King Jaume and the bishop of Barcelona ordered a new temple for Christian worship constructed on the site of the Mosque, which would be dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The first effective bishop of Mallorca came to be the 25 year-old Ramon de Torroella, in 1237, whom was elected by Pope Gregory IX, the bishops of Lleida, Barcelona and Vic and Ramon de Penyafort, the pope’s trusted assistant. Torroella erected the secular canonry of the cathedral in 1240, and was very involved in the establishment of religious orders on the island, organizing the diocese and the coexistence with Jews and Muslims. Torroella held office until his death in 1266, where he was buried in the cathedral that was still under construction.

After the death of Torroella, the new bishop of Mallorca Pere de Morella had the honor of consecrating the main altar, in 1269.

It was under the reign of King Jaume II (1276-1311) that the works of the current temple began. In the second half of the 13th century the first chapel was finished, the Trinity Chapel, which covered the Royal Chapel that reserved space for the tombs of the royal family of Mallorca.

The works of the cathedral lasted until the 17th century.

Its first architect must have been Ponç des Coll. He was later succeeded by Jaume Fabre, also the architect of the church of Sant Domingo in Palma and the headquarters in Barcelona. The next element, the current Royal Chapel, was built between 1314 and 1327, after having widened the Placa del Mirador towards the sea. In the middle of the fourteenth century the work continued with the widening with three naves, at which time Berenguer de Montagut took over.

columns inside the beautiful gothic church of santa maria del mar in barcelona spainIt is quite possible that exactly the fact that Berenguer de Montagut took over the leading role, has linked the cathedral of Palma to the Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona, as it was Montagut whom was the master builder of that church.

There multiple theories about how the cathedral came to have its side naves with apses, however, we are almost certain that their were not a part of the initial blueprint of the construction. Indications in the construction and in historical documents show that around 1330 there is a style change in regards to changing from a single nave to three naves, however, much smaller than they came to be and, in the same style as the cathedral of Barcelona. As with the aforementioned Santa Maria del Mar church in Barcelona, it was decided to raise the naves in the mid-14th century. It was a change of plan related to the reincorporation of Mallorca to the Crown of Aragón (1343).

According to French art historian Marcel Durliat (1917-2006), the architects were Jaume Mates and Llorenç Sosquela based on the theory that Juame Mates was known for purchasing stone from the quarries of Santanyí. However, Catalonian art historians Alexandre Cirici i Pellicer and Agustí Duran i Sampere defend the theory that Berenguer de Montagut was the leading architect.

In the years between 1389 and 1397, Guillem Oliveres directed the works of the cathedral, while Pere Morei, Jean de Valenciennes, Henry l’Alemany and Guillem Sagrera sculpted the portal called “Mirador”. The Almoina portal and the bell tower were both finished in 1498. The bell tower has nine bells, of which the largest is called “Eloi” and has an inner diameter of 1.98 m. Eloi is oprated manually, while the other eight bells are operated mechanically.

At the beginning of the 16th century the construction of the choir enclosure in the center of the main nave began. Between 1592 and 1601 Miquel Verger built the main portal.

The entire cathedral was consecrated in 1601.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Baroque begins to permeate the interior of the Cathedral, in the form of altarpieces, paintings and sculptures marked by post-Tridentine spirituality. From this period, the Corpus Christi altarpiece, the cloister and the new chapter house stand out.

In 1851, the entire main facade was in danger of collapsing due to an earthquake. The restoration of the cathedral with the new main facade, was the work of Madrid based architect Juan Bautista Peyronnet.

The Gaudí reformation

The works of Antoni Gaudí was carried out in the years between 1904 and 1914-15, under promotion of Bishop Pere Joan Campins. The changes of Gaudí initially met a lot of skepticism and critique, as he removed some unique elements of the cathedral such as a corridor of Mudejar candles.

Gaudí also removed a Baroque altarpiece from the Royal Chapel that covered for the Trinity Chapel and the old Gothic altarpiece, as well as began to open the windows and rose windows.

He moved the high altar to the lower vault of the presbytery, as well as the choir stalls made by Felip Fulló from the Renaissance choir in the middle to the sides of the Royal Chapel.

Between the Royal Chapel and the first column he built tribunes with elements from the choir and presbytery. On the walls of each side of the episcopal chair he placed ceramic decorations with the coat of arms of each bishop of Mallorca, as well as texts from the Roman Pontifical made in wrought iron and golden lettering.

chandeliers attached to the massive solumns inside palma cathedral la seu made by antoni gaudiOn the fourteen columns inside, he placed the beautiful chandeliers – known as “ses trobigueres” (troubadours) – with sixteen candles of electric lights on each. Gaudí knew the art of forging iron and designed the elegant shapes of these chandeliers. Gaudí drew them already in November 1904, and they were made of wrought iron by several blacksmiths, including Sebastià Nicolau and Fiol, from the village of Porreres. With these chandeliers installed, Gaudí successfully illuminated the cathedral with electricity in accordance with the technical advances of that time.

beautiful crown made by famous architect antoni gaudi inside palma cathedral la seu in palma mallorcaThe final work of Gaudí worth highlighting, is the Crown of Thorns, the massive chandelier hanging from cables in the choir. The Crown of Thorns came to be the last work of Gaudí in the cathedral before his death. Some of the people who worked alongside Gaudí includes his business partner Joan Rubio i Bellver, Josep Maria Jujol, Guillem Reynés Font and  Joaquim Torres-Garcia.

Josep Maria Jujol started the works of the masonry back wall with splashes of paint that was supposed to represent the universe, however, this work was stopped due to an intervention because of its contradiction to the religious view on life.

The reform of Miquel Barceló

The chapel of Sant Pere – also known as Santísimo – was renovated by Mallorcan artist Miquel Barceló in the time between 2001 and 2006, and has become one of the tourist attractions of the cathedral. Barceló’s work represents the Eucharist through the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, which allows him to display the marine fauna, and the Canaanite wedding around the risen Christ.

chapel inside palma cathedral la seu made by artist miquel barcelo called santisimaThe lower part of the walls of the chapel is made by painted ceramics made in the workshop of famous potter Vincenzo Santoriella, in Vientri sul Mare, Italy, and covers a total area of 300 square meters.

Barceló is also the artist behind the altar, the pulpit, the presidential chair and two boulders.

The destruction of the former chapel and the representation of Christ were both subject to protests, as they were seen as too controversial. Also the darkening of the 12 meter high windows to create an underwater lightning was up for debate. The main defenders of the new chapel were Bishop Teodor Úbeda i Gramage and the liturgical canon Pere Llabrés i Martorell and, the reform was finally carried out by the Fundació Art a la Seu, with funding from various public institutions and private entities.

The rose window of Palma’s cathedral

beautiful large gothic rose window in the facade of palma cathedral la seu in mallorcaThe rose window (rosassa) in the central nave of the cathedral is one of the biggest of its kind in the world, along with the rose window of the Notre Dame in Strasbourg. The rose window has a diameter of 13.3 m, and made out of more than 1,200 pieces of stained glass that create the star of David.

The rose window was originally constructed in 1370, in order to equalize the difference between the apses and naves. The glass was added in 1599.

Twice a year, on February 2 and November 11, you can experience a huge event in the cathedral, namely the Light of God.

Where

Get directions to the cathedral of la Seu

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.

Palma city guide

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la seu gothic cathedral in palma mallorca on the balearic islands in spain




Mallorca's Top sightseeing attractions

Palma Cathedral

la seu gothic cathedral in palma mallorca on the balearic islands in spain

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.

Learn about Palma cathedral La Seu

The Antique Train

excursion with antique train in mallorca

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.

Enjoy a ride in the antique train

Castell de Bellver

beautiful gothic bellver castle in palma mallorca spain

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.

Visit the Bellver castle

Cuevas del Drach

cuevas del drach or dragon caves is a major tourist attraction in mallorca located in the holiday resort of porto cristo

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.

Visit Cuevas del Drach

Santuari de Lluc

santuari de lluc monastery and major tourist attraction in mallorca

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.

Visit Santuari de Lluc

La Granja

two women wearing traditional mallorcan outfits at la granja esporles ethnological museum in mallorca

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.

Visit La Granja

Sa Dragonera

sa dragonera island and nature park with much balearic wildlife

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.

Visit Sa Dragonera island

Almudaina Palace

the almudaina palace in palma mallorca is a major tourist attraction

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.

Visit the Almudaina Palace

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