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by Izabella Dolgos in News

Mallorca Talks

Cultural Mallorca: Exploring Palma, cuisine, arts and escaping the crowds

A stroll through Palma

Palma, the cosmopolitan capital of the Balearics, is a vibrant and sophisticated city and the usual entry point for most tourists. It has the best-preserved medieval walls of any harbour city in Europe, sandy beaches, great restaurants and hotels, a maze-like city centre and one of the most outstanding cathedrals in all of Spain.

If you are visiting the centre of Palma, it is best to go on foot. You can also hire scooters or bicycles. A stroll around the city centre is the best way to explore the city’s many historic monuments, admire the stunning architecture and experience the laidback Mallorcan lifestyle.

  • Start your walk in the morning at the Plaça d’Espanya, stopping at the Olivar Market and continue along the shopping street through to Calle Sant Miquel.
  • From there go to the Plaza Mayor de Palma, the city’s central square. This square is a relaxing place to stroll through, do some shopping or even just do some people-watching.
  • Head down Calle Colom towards the Plaça Cort, where Palma’s 17th century baroque-style City Hall is situated. This is the heart of Palma’s Old Town.
  • Palma’s old city is a medieval maze hiding museums, boutiques and centuries-old courtyards around every corner. The old city is traffic and largely tourist free.
  • You will notice an ancient-looking tree with its twisting bark. This olive tree is one of the city’s most popular icons and is believed to be about 800 years old.
  • Further down the road, between Carrer Palau Reial and the La Seu Cathedral are several fascinating museums and palaces such as the Palau de la Almudaina, a spectacular medieval palace which is now the official residence of the King of Spain when he visits Mallorca.
  • The La Seu Cathedral is one of the highlights of a visit to Palma. It took almost four centuries to complete this magnificent building.
  • Across from the Cathedral, you will find the Parc de la Mar, the site of a series of lakes and a gigantic mural by Joan Miró.
  • Head over to the Museo de Mallorca and past the Cathedral to the Plaça de la Reina. This square marks the start of the Passeig des Born, Palma’s main boulevard since the 15th century. By now you should feel quite peckish and be looking for a one of Palma’s amazing restaurants.

Culinary adventures

Mallorca’s traditional industries such as farming and fishing have helped to create a rich and diverse gastronomy that includes coral birds, the Balearic pig, olive oil and cheese. The official Mallorcan dish is a kind of red pork pate called sobrasada in Spanish. The red colour comes from large amounts of sweet paprika. There is also an official Majorcan cake, called ensaimada. Mallorca also offers some of the best finger-food in the Mediterranean. The Balearics’ most famous food product is not actually of Spanish origin. Mayonnaise was invented here! Under French rule, the general was so unimpressed with local cuisine he ordered a sauce to be made from the only ingredients to hand which was oil and eggs.

When going out to a restaurant looking for something trendy like Asian fusion and cocktails, head to Opio. If you are looking for authentic Mallorcan cuisine, La Boveda is a great option and if you are looking for a marvellous seafood meal, Caballito de Mar is recommended. Misa Restaurant in Palma is one of those magical places that looks like it’s straight out of a movie scene. Hotel Fontsanta is great place to have lunch or dinner and it is truly an oasis of calm. The most popular places to have a drink is the Sky bar on the rooftop of the luxurious Hostal Cuba, an authentic tapas bar, Bar España and of course the Opio Bar, inside the Puro Hotel. Palo and Hierbas are two of the most popular local liquors among local residents.

Arts & Crafts in Mallorca

Mallorca has an interesting art scene. There are modern museums in Palma de Mallorca and an array of galleries in old-fashioned art villages where artists live and get their inspiration from. Beside Palma de Mallorca, mainly the villages Deia, Valldemossa and Santanyi are known for its wide range of galleries. Mallorca has a rich tradition of handicrafts, many of which can be seen and bought at the islands local markets. Glass-blowing and pottery are well established, as are leather goods. Mallorca is also renowned for the production of artificial pearls. Each year´s highlight of the art scene is the “Nit de Art”, or Night of Art. Most important is the event in Palma de Mallorca, when in September hundreds of galleries are open until midnight, with food stands and live music in the streets.

A few lesser known, non-touristy must-do’s when visiting Mallorca.

  1. Explore the central area of Mallorca by car. It is authentic, quiet, clean and serene. The locals on this part of the island are incredibly friendly and welcoming.
  2. View the mastery of Joan Miró, the famed Barcelona-born surrealist painter, at the contemporary art museum inside the old fortress.
  3. Taste the cookies made by local nuns at the Repostería del Monasterio de Santa Clara.
  4. Sample some sobrasada, the traditional Mallorcan sausage that is prepared with ground pork and smoky Spanish paprika.
  5. Go to Formentor Lighthouse at sunset, when the light creates a truly magical mood.
  6. A bit crowdy sometimes, but discover the top Mallorca markets. Almost every town in Mallorca has a weekly market.
  7. A quaint and antique wooden electric train departing from the main station in the Plaza de España will take you on a beautiful journey through the mountain range to the quaint village of Soller.
  8. You could also follow the winding road from Port de Pollença that goes to the very tip of the island for the most spectacular views.

 

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