Photographer's Note

Any visitors approaching Palma by sea cannot help but be impressed, even astonished, by the graceful Gothic cathedral as it gradually emerges into view.

Its upward-reaching lines seem to rise endless as the boat gets nearer, until they merge into its protective shield of palm trees in front, the old quarter houses behind it, and the colorful fishing boats and their undulating reflection in the calm waters of the bay.
The Seo, as it is called here, was build on the site of a preexisting Arab mosque. One night in 1229, as Jaime I was on his way to recapture Majorca, his fleet was struck by a terrible storm. He vowed the and there to the Virgin Mary that if he survived nature´s fury, he would erect a church in her honor. And after the storm had blown over, finding himself safe and sound, he immediately undertook the project. It was a vow that was to take an inordinate amount of time to fulfill. begun in 1230, the cathedral was finished in 1601.

Made from golden limestone from the Santanyi quarries and designed in the French Gothic style, the cathedral is 121 meter long and 55 meter wide. The main body of the church is set in the middle of a mass of pillars and spires, behind which lies the strong buttress reinforced with a double row of flying arches. The bell tower, still unfinished today, is 52 meter high with three ogive-arched stories. It holds nine bells, the most famous of which is the N´Eloi: 2 meter in diameter, it weighs more than 5.700 kilo.

The main facade, which overlooks the Almudaina Palace, fell off during the 1851 earthquake and was later completely reconstructed - that is, with the exception of the Renaissance-era door by M. Verger which miraculously emerged unscathed.

The port-side facade features another door, a true masterpiece of Spanish Gothic. It is called the "Mirador portal", or "Puerta del Mar", and is the collective work of such celebrated artists as Pedro de Moret (who sculpted the statue of the "Virgin with Child", the original of which is housed in the Diocesan Museum) and Juan de Valenciennes (who created the "Last Supper" and the "Trinity"), among others. The most important of all these artists is Guillermo Sagrera, who concentrated the refined nuance of his art-work into the two statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul that flank the portal. The vast, airy interior is striking for its large-scale harmonious proportions. It features three naves resting on 44-meter tall octagonal pillars, eight chapels each side of the nave, and lacks both transept and ambulatory. The rear interior reveals the majestic "Royal Chapel", which is nearly as large as a church in its own right: 25 meter long and 16 meter wide. The main altar, consecrated on October 1, 1346, is surmounted by one enormous "wrought-iron chandelier", forged by Antoni Gaudi as if it were the baldaquin for the altar.
Behind it, we see 110 breathtaking walnut choir-stalls sculpted in flaming Gothic style and, to left, a noteworthy "Renaissance pulpit" by J. de Salas. On a slightly higher level at the back of the choir-stalls, the "Chapel of the Holy Trinity" reveals the ancient tribune of the kings of Majorca and a sort of present-day pantheon for the same: in fact, it houses the sepulcher containing the mummified body of Jaime II and a 1948 Gothic-style tomb by Federico Marés with the ashes of Jaime III, the last in the line of the short-lived but glorious Majorcan dynasty.

The Palma cathedral also houses two other famous tombs: those of Bishop Antonio Gallina (who died in 1375) and of Clement VIII (located in the Cappella de la Piedad). Gil Sanchez Muñoz, the last Avignonse antipope, who was Bishop of Palma until his death in 1449 after having renounced the papal tiara, is also buried in the cathedral. In line with his last wishes, his bishop¨s hat hangs over his tomb.

The "Treasury" is another "must" of the cathedral. It is located in two capitular rooms dominated by a monumental churrigueresque-style door. The first room, by Guillermo Sagrera, is Gothic, while the second is baroque. Its inventory of priceless items includes an enormous gold-plated silver monstrance, which is elaborately etched in Gothic style, and two large baroque candelabras made of silver and weighing 250 kilo each. They were made at the beginning of the 18th century by silversmith Juan Matons of Barcelona on commission from a certain Juan Roig.

Today, they are estimated to be worth 10 million pesetas, but their historic and artistic value is truly beyond calculation.


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Additional Photos by Oleg Kuznetsov (osub) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 28 W: 0 N: 264] (1663)
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