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

Guillem Cantallops Ramis (18 months ago)
Excellent location surrounded by pine woods to walk in nature. Clean air, birds singing, good views on the Port, a few statues and a playground for kids. Didn't purchase tickets, but the castle is cool from outside.
Petina Kostadinova (18 months ago)
Historical place with amazing view! Incredible location, above the city, you can see literally everything from above. There are two ways of reaching it out - by car or by foot. If you choose to go by foot - be prepared for a lot of stairs but it is really unforgettable!
aaron dodds (18 months ago)
Free on Sundays, cheap entry all other times if the week. Plenty of free parking at the top of the hill. Lovely castle to visit, very scenic and nice to walk around. Very little information regarding the castle though, I have no idea why or who built the castle. Could just do with some additional information just to explain why it's here. Lovely view from the top but very busy. Quite steep steps so may want to be careful with kids, there was also a chair lift which was a nice touch.
Steven Charlton (18 months ago)
Always been interested in castles & visit them when I can. This one was pretty special by it's shape. You don't see many round castles! (Least I haven't). Would definitely walk to it if you can, as the views all the way up walking, were really worth it. There are quite a lot of steps to negotiate when walking though, so be aware of this (300 - 400 perhaps (I lost count on the way down!))
Ronald Harvey (18 months ago)
A must-visit attraction. It is one of the best castles I have ever visited. The shape is unique, and the landscape is breathtaking. The entry is free on Sundays and holidays, so if you are in Mallorca there is no excuse to miss this opportunity!
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