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La Seu Cathedral

La Seu Cathedral

La Seu Cathedral in Palma de Mallorca

La Seu - Palma de Mallorca’s gothic cathedral is the major landmark in the Mallorcan capital Palma de Mallorca. The church is one of the largest religious buildings in Spain.

Rosette window of La SeuPalma Cathedral - monumental structure by the sea
The massive La Seu cathedral is a monumental building by the sea, that took several centuries to build. Construction began around 1230 on the order of King Jaume I of Mallorca, after the centuries-long Moorish occupation of the Mediterranean island had come to an end. The mighty church stands on the foundations of an old mosque. More than 350 years passed until the nave and the main portal were finally finished and in 1601 the edifice was complete.

When you stop to examine La Seu the huge dimensions of the church building become visible. The building is almost 110 m long and has a width of 33 m. With a height of 44m, the nave is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. A striking feature of the church is the Gothic rosette window on the eastern front of the building. It has a diameter of 12.55 m and was composed of more than 1,200 colorful glass fragments. When the sun shines through the window the light conjures up fascinating, kaleidoscopic reflections in the interior.

Special light phenomena in Palma's cathedral
The way the light streams in through the gothic rosette window is impressive, but on certain days of the year visitors can expect an extraordinary light phenomenon. It is called the "Light Game of the Eight" and occurs on two days of the year - February 2nd and November 11th. The sunbeams fall from 8:00am through the large rosette on the eastern front and projects the exact image of the round window onto the opposite wall below the main façade’s rosette. For the viewer, it appears as if the two rosette windows have been perfectly superimposed together. This moment of magic attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Another phenomenon of light occurs around 20 days each side of the winter solstice. The sunrise can be observed through the two large rosettes. The sun's rays create a sort of kaleidoscope that shines in fantastic colors that change constantly. A superb observation point for this light phenomenon are the terraces of the Baluard Museum.  

Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca

Architectural styles of different eras
The architectural styles of a range of eras are clearly recognizable at Palma Cathedral. The Gothic elements in the side portal facing the sea date back to the 13th century. The alms portal on the opposite side bears stylistic elements of late Gothic. In the 16th century, the Gothic style was increasingly superseded by the architectural style of the Renaissance. There are elements of Baroque style in the chapels of "Saint Sebastian", "The Immaculate Conception" and "Corpus Christi" among others . The baptistery, on the other hand, was created during the era of Classicism.

The Legacy of Gaudí
The leading Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí, was asked by Bishop Campin at the beginning of the 20th century to take over the complete restoration and decoration work of La Seu. Between 1904 and 1914, the choir room was integrated into the Royal Chapel and the cathedra (bishop’s chair) was renewed. The most striking visible change is the monumental canopy above the altar. It has the shape of a crown of thorns and can be illuminated. The hollow space, under the choir, also goes back to Antoni Gaudí, who had the idea to create a natural resonance chamber under their seats, to enable the choral music to resonate throughout the cathedral. This cavity was forgotten about and rediscovered only 100 years later during renovations.

Resting place of two kings
In the cathedral of La Seu two Mallorcan kings were laid to rest.  Jaume II and Jaume III were both buried in the Capella Trinidad or ‘Trinity Chapel’. The chapel is not open to the public. The bell tower houses a museum displaying sacral art treasures from various eras. The nine bells in the main tower are five centuries worth of work in total. Four bells were cast in 1312. The N’Aloi bell offers several superlatives - with a weight of 4.6 tons and a diameter of two metres, it is the largest mobile bell tolled in Spain.

After paying an entrance fee, you can enter Palma Cathedral after it opens its doors for visitors at 10 o'clock. The cathedral closes between 3pm and 6pm depending on the season. External visitors must pay a small entrance fee. Residents are allowed free entry if they can prove their residence in Mallorca. La Seu Cathedral has barrier-free access, and during the tour, audio guides provide visitors with information on the history, architecture and religious significance of the place of worship.

La Seu