Everyone heard about Mallorca, whether they wanted to or not. The hit song by Loft from the 90s has been covered and remixed more times that I could count. I remember those years, that island felt as unreachable as the moon, reserved only for the rich and famous. Palma de Mallorca was somewhere in the background. Most people didn’t even know it’s the capital; people didn’t even bother leaving their hotel enclosures. Even my friends, relatively young people, went to Mallorca for a week and didn’t even bother checking out the capital. Why would they? They had sandy beaches as far as the eye could see, drinks and the Mediterranean just outside of their lodging. The locals are rather annoyed by the tourists, sarcastically saying that Palma de Mallorca became a district of Berlin and the island is now the 17th German province. Everything has been “taken over” and “Germanized” so the eventually unwanted guests could feel right at home. People complain about “older European men” getting drunk and strolling around Palma de Mallorca’s restaurants and hotels shirtless.
Nowadays it’s not just Germans but also the British that made it their favourite summer destination. I mean…it’s relatable, let’s face it; Mallorca is a victim of its own success. The Spanish government had a plan to make this island the premier tourist destination and they succeeded. While it was exclusive at first, people smelled the islands potentials as cash cow. All they had to do was open up a little and Mallorca became more accessible. So accessible that it is currently a retirement destination for Brits and Germans. It’s a recurring theme in these sorts of cities, people complain about tourists but eventually realize that these 10 million people that visit every year, fill their pockets with fat cash. There are obvious benefits to that kind of an influx. Palma de Mallorca became a shining pearl and a new focal point of the island. People just recently began to experience this ancient and awe-inspiring capital.
Palma was established as a Roman settlement over 100 years BC and went through periods of numerous occupants, like most cities in the region. Romans, Muslims, Christians, all of those cultures left some kind of heritage behind. The capital could be mistaken for Naples if it wasn’t for the Moorish details on stunning buildings. Narrow passages and enchanting courtyard cafés are the trademarks of Palma de Mallorca. The city is rather small. You can witness most of its sights in one day and it’s the perfect destination for a weekend trip if you allow yourself a bit more time to stroll around. Bellver Castle is the first thing I’d recommend to curious newcomers. It’s just on the outskirts of the capital and you can take a bus, or even better, rent a bike. There are only a few circular (“cake”) castles in Europe and Castell de Bellver is one of them. It used to be a prison at one point, but now it serves as the official History Museum of Mallorca. Climb one of its towers for the best view of Palma and let those "Instagram likes” flow in.
Royal Palace of La Almudaina (Palacio Real de La Almudaina) is another iconic structure on the island and a mine of fame on social media. It has been the royal residence since the early 13th century. It’s a typical alcázar; a kind of a cross between a palace and a fortress, originally built by the Moors and basically a Muslim equivalent of a European castle. One thing I did not expect to find on this small island is the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, which is actually the second highest Gothic cathedral in the world. It’s enormous, but not in that pompous-church-like manner, it’s ironically very humble in its pathos.
Palma de Mallorca is a bit boring when it comes to nightlife, to be completely honest. People usually have dinner around the Old Town before heading out to the port or beach area to party. It’s more of a foodie, cocktail bar kind of nightlife. There are clubs like Kaelum or Tito’s (https://titosmallorca.com/) around the beach promenade area, but if you want to get down and dirty you take a cab to Magaluf, just outside of Palma. Known as “Shag-aluf” by the British community. It’s where the kids sneak off to when their parents are standing in line for another serving of currywurst. The weekend lasts from Monday till Sunday there. It’s a never-ending party but it can get a bit obnoxious with all the drunken kids, occasional fights and overall chaos. It can eventually get very nasty with even fatalities. In 2018, a Dutch tourist died after being beaten up by a group of five youths near Palma de Mallorca. In the summer of 2021, a young Dutchman was attacked out of nowhere by a group of nine countrymen in Playa de Palma during a night out. He was kicked several times in the head until he passed out. A few days later he died in the local hospital from fatal injuries. Very understandable the incident caused a shock and huge scandal in my country. Brutally murdered in the street by a group of compatriots during your summer vacation. It's the ultimate horror.