[ Photo Gallery # 94 ]
Palma is capital of the Spanish island of Mallorca (Majorca), in the western Mediterranean. The massive Santa María cathedral, a Gothic landmark begun in the 13th century, overlooks the Bay of Palma. West of the city, hilltop Bellver Castle is a medieval fortress with a distinctive circular shape.
Valldemossa , directly north of Palma, is a favourite stop for fans touring the island. The area is famous for one landmark in particular. That is the Royal Charterhouse, built at the beginning of the 14th century. Since the 19th century Valldemossa has been promoted internationally as a place of outstanding beauty. In the 1830s the Spanish government confiscated monasteries and the historic estate has since that time hosted some prominent guests. These have included the Polish composer Frederick Chopin and his lover, the pioneering French writer known by her pseudonym, George Sand. Every summer the monastery stages an acclaimed Chopin Festival, and visitors can tour the cells where the outrageous couple resided.
Despite problems encountered during their visit, their time there proved a famously creative period. While Sand’s book on Majorca has proved to be an enjoyable portrait of the island, Chopin meanwhile, although he realised whilst on the island that his sickness was incurable, wrote or completed some of his most loved works, including his Prelude in D flat major, appropriately known as the “Raindrop”.
Saint Catherine of Palma (1533–1574) was a Spanish nun canonised in 1930. She was born 1 May 1533 into a peasant family. She worked as a servant in a household in Palma where she learned to read and embroider, before joining the Canonnesses of St Augustine at the convent of St Mary Magdalene in Palma. She was visited by devils and angels, and went into ecstasy for the last years of her life. She died 5 April 1574 at Palma, Mallorca. The house in Valldemossa where she was born has become a shrine, and many houses in the village bear a plaque in her honour.
The photographs below were taken during my visit to the island in 2006 . . .