May 2021. The Belgian government lifted the ban on leisure travel in April, but strict travel rules limited options. As the Balearic Islands – lles Balears or Islas Baleares – were a yellow zone, we booked flights and a hotel in Palma de Mallorca.
Thursday was the last full day of our midweek in Mallorca. We started that day with a visit of Cathedral-Basilica of Santa Maria of Palma, also known as La Seu.
The Catedral-Basílica de Santa María en Palma is a Gothic Roman Catholic, Wikipedia describes the edifice. But with its sandstone, it’s fortress-like shape and relatively sober interior it’s not a cathedral like Antwerp‘s or Paris‘ Notre-Dame cathedrals.
Built by the Crown of Aragón on the site of a Moorish-era mosque, the cathedral is 121 metres long, 40 metres wide and its nave is 44 metres tall. By way of comparison, the height of the central nave reaches 33m in Notre-Dame de Paris, 38m in Reims, 42m in Notre-Dame d’Amiens and 48m in Saint-Pierre de Beauvais, the highest of all Gothic cathedrals.
Designed in the Catalan Gothic style but with Northern European influences, it was begun by King James I of Aragon in 1229 but only finished in 1601. It sits within the old city of Palma atop the former citadel of the Roman city, between the Royal Palace of La Almudaina and the episcopal palace. It also overlooks the Parc de la Mar – where we resided – and the Mediterranean Sea.
In 1901, fifty years after a restoration of the cathedral had started, Antoni Gaudí was invited to take over the project. While some of his ideas were adopted – moving the choir stalls from the middle nave to be closer to the altar, as well as a large canopy – Gaudí abandoned his work in 1914 after an argument with the contractor.
The planned changes were essentially cosmetic rather than structural, and the project was cancelled soon after.
We just bought tickets for the cathedral itself and not for the viewing tower. General admission is 8 euro, for the terraces you pay 12 euro extra. We decided not to. The website indicates the terraces visits are full, but on site there was no indication.
The interieur is impressive by its sheer size and grandeur. It is very dramatic and would be a perfect film set.
The stained glass windows give some areas beautiful rainbow colours.
The rest of the cathedral visit is a typical cathedral visit. Sorry if that sounds blasé.
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