Churches in the Old Quarter from Palma

The Catholic church has been highly important within Mallorcan society throughout history, and evidence of this is seen in the numerous religious buildings around the island, many of which are spectacular.

The Church of Santa Eulària, located at La plaça de Santa Eulària in Palma, was one of the churches built following the Christian conquest of Mallorca, with documents dating back to 1230 mentioning it. This church was probably built on the site of a pre-existing building and it follows the Catalan Gothic structure, that´s to say, it´s characterised by its solid structure and lack of ornamentation. In the 13th century it was the setting for important historic events, such as the swearing of the Oath of Privileges and Exemptions of the Kingdom of Mallorca by the future king Jaume II in 1256. The cross-vaulted roof of the church wasn´t completed until 1570 and the main façade, which is neo-Gothic in style, dates from the end of the 19th century. Inside the building there are Gothic paintings from the 15th century and a baroque-style altarpiece.

The Church of Sant Francesc, located at Plaça de Sant Francesc, is where the Franciscans built their monastery in 1281. The first stone of this building, which has a basilican layout with a single nave with a cross-vaulted Gothic roof, was put into place by King Jaume II of Mallorca. Inside the church is the tomb of the poet, philosopher and mystic, Ramon Llull, which was built in 1487. The main altarpiece is baroque and dates from 1739. The main façade was built between 1618 and 1621, replacing the previous Gothic façade, which had been damaged by a lightning strike. Next to the church is the beautiful cloister of Sant Francesc, which is surrounded by ogival arches supported by 115 columns. Outside there is a statue of an American Indian with Brother Juniper Serra, the leader of the evangelising missions to California, Mexico and the United States of America.

The Convent of Santa Clara, at number 2 Carrer del Fonollar, was founded in 1256 by Caterina Berenguer, the abbess of the Order of Saint Clare in Tarragona, together with her sister Guillermeta. The base of the building dates back to the time of its creation and it was constructed on top of a Moorish building, from which the remains of a waterwheel, a kiln and various tombs have been found. The passages of the cloister contain Gothic tombs of the convent´s abbesses, which are of great artistic value. The chapter house is from the 16th century and it contains a Gothic altarpiece dedicated to Sant Joaquim and Santa Anna. Below is what is known as the Casa del Blat (Wheat house), which now holds a collection of antique tools and measuring devices. The convent´s art collection contains important Gothic altarpieces.

The Church of Monti-sion, at number 22 Carrer Monti-sion, was constructed in the 17th century and its main portal is a highly ornamental baroque work. It is located within the old Jewish quarter and it occupies the site which was once one of Palma´s two synagogues (the other one was located where the Seminari Vell now stands, which was constructed in the 18th century, at number 4 Carrer del Seminari).

The Convent and Church of Sant Jeroni, at number 1 Carrer de la Porta del Mar, is the popular name for the Monastery of Santa Elisabet of Hungary; it was founded in 1336 by a community of Franciscans in a house which was donated to them, and over time more houses were added. The building has an L-shaped form, with three storeys surrounding a garden, and a cloister which the community uses as a cemetery. The current church dates from the 17th century, and inside it contains an altarpiece from 1507 with an image of Our Lady of Consolation, as well as Gothic paintings of Saint Jerome and a 17th century organ.

There are 4 religious buildings on the street of Carrer de Sant Miquel. At number 21 is the Church of Sant Miquel, which occupies the grounds of the old mosque, where, according to legend, the first mass was held after the conquest of Medina Mayurca, which was the Arabic name of the city. At number 32 is the Convent of Sant Antoniet, of which only the elliptical baroque cloister from 1729 remains. In the church from the same period, above the main entrance there is a figure of Sant Antoni Abat (or Sant Antoni of Viana) with a piglet and the flames of the fire of Sant Antoni, which are heavily worshipped on Mallorca. At number 48 is the Church of Santa Catalina of Sena, which is the only remaining part of the 17th century Dominican convent, which was destroyed in 1963. The arches and columns of the cloister were installed at the Ramon Llull building on the university campus. At number 69 is the Church of Santa Margalida, which is what remains of the Augustinian convent constructed in 1238. The convent was practically dismantled in order to turn it into a military hospital, with just a part of the cloister and the chapter house having been conserved.

The Convent and Church of Santa Magdalena, at number 4 Plaça de Santa Magdalena, date from the 14th century, though the church was completely reconstructed in 1740. It is here that we find the remains and the pantheon of the blessed Santa Catalina Tomàs (Valldemossa 1533 – Palma 1574), who joined this convent and who is an object of devotion on Mallorca. Moving towards Passeig del Born, at number 10 Carrer Sant Jaume we find the Parish Church of Sant Jaume, where, in 1236, worship was held in the building of an old mosque. In 1327 work began on this Gothic church, with a cross-vaulted nave and keystones decorated with the coats of arms of the noble families who contributed towards the construction. The main portal dates from 1776 and stylistically it is late baroque. Behind the church, following the street of Carrer de la Sagristia de Sant Jaume, we reach Carrer Jaquotot, where we find the interesting baroque buildings of the convent of the Capuchin nuns and the Church of Puríssima Concepció, where a monumental baroque nativity scene is displayed at Christmas.

The Church of Sant Nicolau, at number 14 Carrer de Sant Nicolau, dates from the 14th century, though its appearance is heavily influenced by renovations carried out in the 17th century. The roof of the nave and the chapels have half-barrel vaults. Of particular note inside the building is the baroque altarpiece dominated by a Gothic representation of Sant Nicolau from the 15th century.

Santa Creu, which is located at the corner of the streets of Carrer Santa Creu and Carrer Sant Llorenç, is one of the first parish churches in Palma; it dates from the 14th century and is a Gothic building with a cross-vaulted roof, except in the presbytery, which has a ribbed vault. Inside the church there are Gothic style altarpieces and baroque pieces, such as the main altarpiece. Below the presbytery is the Crypt of Sant Llorenç, which includes the parish museum.

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