Bellver Castle

Palma, Spain

Bellver Castle is a Gothic style castle on a hill 3 km to the west of the center of Palma. It was built in the 14th century for King James II of Majorca, and is one of the few circular castles in Europe.

Origins

The castle's plan, a circular floor with round towers attached to it, seems to have been inspired by the upper complex of the Herodion, a 15 BCE hilltop palace in the West Bank, that was also circular and had a large principal tower and three minor towers as well. They are attached while the principal one is coupled to the complex by a high bridge over the surrounding moat.

The main part of the fortification was built by architect Pere Salvà, who also worked in the construction of the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, together with other master masons between 1300 and 1311 for King James II of Aragon and Majorca. Rock from the hill where the castle sits was used for the building, which has eventually led to the appearance of cracks. Once the castle had been built, and following the introduction of artillery, the battlements on the top balconies and the barbican disappeared, being soon followed by those in every tower; loopholes were built instead.

History

The castle originally served as a residence for the Kings of Mallorca whenever they were not staying in mainland Europe, and was subsequently seldom used as a residence for viceroys during the 17th century. As a fortification, it suffered and successfully resisted two sieges during the Middle Ages; the first of them in 1343, during Peter IV of Aragon's campaign to reincorporate the Majorcan territories to the Crown of Aragon, and then again in 1391 during an anti-semitic peasant revolt. The castle has only fallen once in its history into enemy hands, in 1521 after an assault during the Majorcan seconds Revolt of the Brotherhoods.

Being an enclosed site, since the end of the 14th century it was used as a prison. The castle served from then on as a political prison, used to lock up several important supporters of the subsequent Habsburg pretendants to the Spanish Throne during the 19th century, and later notable republican and Catalanist leaders during the 20th century.

Today

Bellver castle became a museum in 1932, being restored in 1976 to become the city's History museum. The main yard is the seat to many different public ceremonies, such as protocollary and cultural acts, and concerts. Due to its location and visibility from the sea or any other point of the city, it has become one the city's symbols.

The surrounding forest encloses the stables of the city's Mounted Peelers. There is also a chapel dedicated to Saint Alphonsis Rodriguez, built between 1879 and 1885.

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Details

Founded: 1300-1311
Category: Castles and fortifications in Spain

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Holly Veneman (30 days ago)
My all time favourite place in Palma to relax, take a long walk and see the views over Palma. There are three children's parks (one with a climbing castle, another with a zip line and the third is nice for very small kids). There is no signage so people often get lost, but they are supposed to add signs soon. Also, the mounted police have their HQ there so you can see the horses sometimes. The castle itself is lovely and I got married there at night many years ago. Don't miss climbing the 425 stairs and stopping at the small chaple on the way up to the castle.
Shifali Mudumba (2 months ago)
Magnificent views of Palma! Recommended particularly during sunset. A wonderful walk through what feels like a forest for a good 30 minutes add the castle. Can be a great 2 hr walk from Palma old town. A must do for someone with time in Palma!
Hrvoje Šandula (4 months ago)
Bit uphill but worth it, beautiful castle with nice view of the city!
Oktawia (4 months ago)
Cheep museum you can go! :)
Carol Andrea (5 months ago)
Good view of Palma but there is not much more to it. To be fair, I was only on the outside as it was closed. Nevertheless, it was a great hike and worth the view.
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