At first glance, Palma might appear to be your typical modern city bustling with commercial activities and packed with all the urban comforts. But then you will begin to notice the different feel of the island, the historical charms, the warmth of the locals and the sweet call of the beautiful beaches. Then you begin to understand why Palma has a thriving tourism industry and is the favorite summer retreat of the royalty since Juan Carlos I became King of Spain in 1975.
The capital city of the Balearic Islands is situated southwest on the island of Mallorca. It is the largest city in the island and has been a settlement since the Bronze Age. Since the 19th century, Palma’s economy relied on trading and tourism with the latter industry bringing in immigrants from the continents of Africa and South America the brought its population numbers up – today, there are over 400,000 inhabitants in Palma, almost half of the population of Mallorca.
Within the city itself are numerous interesting attractions worth exploring. Most of its historic architecture reflects the various cultural influences through time. Castell de Bellver is a 14th century castle that sits on top of a hill and overlooks the entire city and the bay. It houses a museum of archaeological objects.
In the historic Old City are more interesting sights such as the Sa Seu Palma Catedral, an imposing 14th century cathedral which was built on a mosque. One of Europe’s tallest Gothic churches, it also houses a museum with an impressive collection of religious objects and reliquaries from times past. There is also the Banys Arabs, the only remaining structure that evokes the city’s past under Moorish rule. Constructed in the 10th century, the building housed public baths but unfortunately was not spared from the ravages of time.
Outside the city proper are the majestic beaches that have beckoned to holiday travelers for years. Playa de Palma is a 4500-meter stretch of beach between Palma and Llucmajor and is about 10 minutes away from the capital and five minutes from the airport. It is actually made up of three beach resorts – Ca’n Pastilla, El Arenal and Cala Estancia – although there are no distinct delineations dividing the three properties so people can just walk from one to the other.
Playa de Palma is complete with all the infrastructure for an enjoyable holiday resort – hotels and villas, cafes and restaurants, water sports facilities, and even a local market all complement the lovely white sand beaches and crystal blue waters. There are also two marinas at Playa de Palma – the Sant Antoni de la Playa at Ca’n Pastilla, and the Arenal Marina.
During the summer month of July, Palma virtually becomes a party capital in Mallorca when it hosts the annual music festival. DJ’s from all over Europe as well as rock and pop bands come to the city to perform and play for the big crowds of revelers. Another popular festival in the city is the Nit de Foc (Night of Midsummer) – a night of fireworks, bonfires and street parties that heralds the beginning of summer fiestas in the island.