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From Amsterdam to Rome Cruise Post #15: Palma De Mallorca, Spain: “The City of Olive Tourism, Castle of Kings & Prisoners, And House of Wax & Taxidermy”

Overlooking Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Overlooking Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Palma De Mallorca is the capital and largest city of the Balearic Islands in Spain. The name of the island originates from an old Latin phrase ‘insula maior’ that means ‘larger island’. In ancient times, the Romans would use this term to refer to the island because Mallorca is the largest island in Spain. Over time, the phrase was mispronounced and corrupted. The British pronounced it as Majorca, while the rest of world simply referred to it as Mallorca.

Yachts with the Cathedral Palma Mallorca in the background - Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Yachts, with the Cathedral Palma Mallorca in the background – Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Today, Mallorca is one of Europe’s major holiday destinations. It is a city of modern hotel chains and flashy shops, yet still retains much of its old architecture. Football is a passion on the island, with the Real Mallorca team competing at its home playing field, the Iberostar Stadium. The island is famous for its many olive groves, which has led to the development of olive tourism on the island.

Bellver Castle - Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Bellver Castle – Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Gothic style structure of the Bellver Castle - Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Gothic style structure of the Bellver Castle – Palma De Mallorca, Spain

We took a bus trip to Bellver Castle, a Gothic style structure built in the 14th century for King James II of Majorca. It is one of the few circular castles in Europe. Its circular floors, with round towers attached, was inspired by the Herodion Fortress in the West Bank in Jerusalem. After serving as a residence for the Kings of Mallorca, the castle was then turned over as a military prison throughout the 18th to mid-20th century. After crossing the draw bridge over the moat, and into the castle, our group started the steep climb to the very top of this fascinating structure. We arrived breathless – but truly awed by the magnificent view of Mallorca and the Mediterranean.

Donkeys in the village of Sant Joan - Palma De Mallorca

Family of donkeys in the village of Sant Joan – Palma De Mallorca

We then continued our journey, traveling though Mallorca’s seemingly endless, rich agricultural countryside, to the village of Saint Joan. Here we arrived at the Els Calderers manor house, once belonging to the Verí family. Els Calderers consisted, at one time, of acres of thriving vineyards until the 1870s, when the phylloxera epidemic (a sap-sucking microcosmic insect) wiped out all of the vines. The main house, which dates back to 1750, has over 20 rooms – among them, a private chapel, master of the house’s office and a wine cellar, where we sampled a ‘vino tino’ straight from the barrel. Wandering around the house, we saw faded family portraits, antiquarian rifles, bizarre and haunting taxidermy (one in particular caught my fancy– a snarling, cat-like, vampire-toothed animal) a music room (with a female wax-figure, blissfully and eternally playing pre-recorded piano music), ancient agricultural tools (that looked somewhat like torture implements) and delicate, miniature, hyper-detailed dollhouses (including fingernail-sized books in its tiny library).
Antiquarian rifles and taxidermy at the Els Calderers manor house - Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Antiquarian rifles and taxidermy at the Els Calderers manor house – Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Bizarre and haunting taxidermy at Els Calderers manor house - Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Bizarre and haunting taxidermy at Els Calderers manor house – Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Wax figure playing the piano at the Els Calderers manor house - Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Wax figure playing the piano at the Els Calderers manor house – Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Family portraits of the Verí family at the Els Calderers manor house - Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Family portraits of the Verí family at the Els Calderers manor house – Palma De Mallorca, Spain

As we bounced along on the bus ride back to the ship, I thought about the hard day’s ‘work’ that traveling sometimes requires– and applauded how even the most elderly traveler on the cruise  seemed honestly enthusiastic, grateful and in awe of the world we were experiencing together. It made me think of a wonderful quote by Mark Twain, regarding the importance of traveling for all:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Looking out into open waters of the Mediterranean from the Regent Seven Seas Voyager

Looking out into open waters of the Mediterranean from the Regent Seven Seas Voyager

All photographs except #2 taken by Ryan Oksenberg

Comments

  1. Alan Mandell says:

    I need to have a travel session with you.

    Love,
    Alan

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