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

Toma Garofil (2 years ago)
Amazing piece of Mallorcan history. The castle offers a wonderful view of the surroundings and a great history lesson. Do not miss it if you visit Palma. The entrance costs €4. You can either get here by taking the city tour bus or by climbing the hill by foot.
Thomas Markham (2 years ago)
Free parking facilities although limited. We turned up and luckily there were spaces available. There was no queue for the ticket office and paid €4pp admission. Walking up the staircase to the castle the views became fantastic as you can see the whole of Palma. Lots of interesting history to be read about the castle and why it was built. Definitely worth taking the time to visit.
Shivanand B (2 years ago)
A pleasant walk from the bottom of the hill, and a nice city view alongside the steps, The view is just mesmerizing towards the cathedral and city ports. This castle is one of the nice architecture, I loved it surely you will love it. When you go on top of the castle, you will fall in love with the place you are standing and staring at.
Gnanavel Chandramohan (2 years ago)
Located not very far from the city center and you can either take a bus or car. If you go by bus then you need to take some 500 steps to reach the castle. The castle has a good view over the Palma city and port. They exhibit inside the castle all it's history. When you go by bus and reached by steps to the entrance, first go to the parking area where the tickets are sold and then you can enter the castle.
Paul Heller (2 years ago)
What an interesting castle. It's round shaped with a courtyard. When we went, on a Sunday, it was free. Not sure why. There are some renovations going on. Inside the castle is an exhibit on the history of Palma. When you climb the top you have magnificent views of the city and harbor. Definitely recommend visiting. Can drive and park at top or take a taxi.
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