A guide to Bellver Castle Palma de Majorca
Bellver Castle Architecture
The Bellver castle is of Gothic styling, dating from the early 14th century. The castle is located to about three kilometres from the centre of Palma de Majorca towards the southwest, upon a mount standing 112.6 meters above sea level. It has panoramic views over Palma de Majorca bay, the Tramuntana mountain range and the central plane of Majorca.
Castle of Bellver is the oldest circular castle of Europe, and the only circular castle in Spain.
The circular design with back-to-back circular towers seems to come from the Herodion hill in Palestine. Their four towers follow the form of the wind rose. The 3 smaller towers are back-to-back, with the 4th main keep / dungeon tower connected to the main structure by a high bridge over the surrounding moat. This main tower is also referred to as the Tribute Tower.
Surrounding the castle and the keep tower are two moats. To access the castle you will need to first cross a fixed bridge and shortly after that a drawbridge.
Of the four towers of the Castle of Bellver, the most famous it is the Tribute Tower (Torre del Homenatje), that with a height of 33.37 meters lodges in its interior “S’Olla” (the Pot), a dark jail.
The circular inner yard has a water well located in the middle, which indicates that a cistern is located beneath.
The palace is structured in two floors around the central yard. All the ground floor rooms are accessed through the central yard by means of a gallery of Gothic arches.
On the first floor, you will find a gallery comprising of 42 octagonal columns formed as ogival arches. A chapel dedicated to Saint Marc is located on this floor, as is the Despuig Collection of Roman statues.
History of Bellver Castle
The main part of the Castle of Bellver was built by Pere Salvà, who also worked on the Palace of the Almudaina, between years 1300 and 1311 for King Jaime II of Majorca.
The castle was constructed for residential purposes and King Jaime II, Sancho, Jaime III of Majorca and king Juan I lived there.
As fortification continued over the years, so too did different sieges, first in 1343, during the campaign to restore the kingdom from Majorca to the Aragon Crown, until the last one in 1521.
From the 14th century the Castle of Bellver was made to serve as a prison for those in favour of king Jaime III, after his death in the battle of Lluchmayor (1349).
In the 19th century, during Spanish War of Independence, the prisoners of the battle of Bailén were kept in the Castle, and later, political prisoners, such as Minister Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (1802-1808), who laid the foundations of Mexican agrarian land laws, based on the works of Adam Smith’s ‘The Wealth of Nations’.
After the 1936 violent uprising, known as the Battle of Majorca or Majorca Landings, 800 republican political prisoners were locked away in Bellver Castle, during their incarceration they were forced to construct the present access road to the castle.
Among those prisoners were Alexandre Jaume, who had secured the cession of the castle to the city by the Second Republic, and Emili Darder, town major at the time of the cession, They were both executed by firing squad shortly after their imprisonment.
The Second Spanish Republic yielded the castle to the city of Palma de Majorca in 1931, along with the forest that surrounds it. Afterwards it fell under the protection of the generic Declaration of the Decree of 22 of April of 1949, and Law 16/1985 of the Spanish Historical Patrimony.
In 1976 the castle became the Museum of History for Palma de Majorca, exhibiting artefacts dating from Majorca’s first settlers up to the Middle Ages. At the moment it is being renewed with exhibits depicting modern history. This exhibition has many pieces coming from archaeological excavations and municipal collections of art; also containing a collection of classic sculptures of Cardinal Despuig.
Thanks to the road and parking constructed by the political prisoners, at the moment the castle receives a great number of visitors each year.
Current Use Of The Castle
Nowadays the court yard plays host to great variety of political acts, cultural concerts and social performances. As well as:
- Ground floor: Museum and parade ground of History of the City of Palma.
- Middle level: chapel of San Marcos, room of Jovellanos, hall of the throne, the Despuig collection of classic sculptures.
- Roof terrace: Panoramic views of the Palma de Majorca and its bay.
- In the enclosure of the forest of Bellver are the stables of the mounted police. There is also a chapel dedicated to San Alonso Rodriguez, constructed between 1879 and 1885.
Bellver Castle’s close proximity to Palma de Majorca combined with its visibility from both the sea and many areas in the city, have turned it into one of the symbols of the Palma de Majorca.
In the second Sunday of Easter, known as the day of the Angel Guard, the people of Palma de Majorca join in the forest of Bellver for the celebration of the Angel Sunday.
How do I get to Bellver Castle?
Bus: Line 3, 4, 20, 21 and 22 of EMT till Joan Miró (Gomila) and 20 minutes walk to the castle.
Bus: Line 3, 4, 20, 21 and 22 of EMT till Joan Miró (el Terreno) and 15 minutes walk to the castle through a little stone road that was used to take ammunition to the castle.
Car: Follow Av. Joan Miró, turn right into Calle Camilo José Cela and follow the road up to the parking of the Castle.
From October to March:
- Mondays to Saturdays: 8:30 – 19:00
- Sundays and bank holidays: 10:00 – 19.:00
From April to September:
- Mondays to Saturdays: 8:30 – 20:30
- Sundays and bank holidays : 10:00 – 17:00. The museum areas will be closed on these days.