Courtyard are places of peace and silence. They transmit tranquility and transport us to remote times of clear medieval flavour, endowing with an exquisite and unique personality to the center of the Mallorcan capital. The courtyard of Palma de Mallorca stand out for their sobriety, their elegance and a plastic beauty which are difficult to match. Do you want to know more about these architectural gems?
Azorín already spoke, in the year 1906, of “vast courtyard in which nothing is heard, nor is anyone seen; and in which an old lantern of white glass hangs from the ceiling. One breathes in this venerable Palma a kind of tranquility, a soothing calm, a peace that at one point calms down our enraged nerves of courtiers.” Words that invite us to walk unhurriedly through the cobbled and labyrinthine streets of Palma to discover them little by little, and that encourage us to include this patio route among the activities to do in Palma in one day.
A brief trip through time
The history of the courtyard of Palma de Mallorca dates back to the thirteenth century, starting with the arrival of the Gothic period and having its peak period between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. These courtyards were a symbol of the social status and economic position of its residents, it being practically mandatory to have a small palace with a patio if one wanted to boast of financial well-being, as this is the first- and sometimes only – room that the visitors saw.
Although there are those who see its origin in the Roman house style, the influence of the Catalan medieval house style that arrived with the conquest of Mallorca in 1229 is evident. At the beginning of the 19th century more than 500 private courtyards were counted in the city centre, but with the passing of time many of these palatial houses became the property of public entities; others have been converted into a museum and not a few are independent homes.
Main characteristics of the courtyard of Palma de Mallorca
The courtyard served as the anteroom of the manor house, and there were commercial agreements between the lord of the house and merchants in the area. Its floors are paved and have a small inclination to collect rainwater, and few are those who still keep the water well within the perimeter. You can’t miss the columns and capitals on which the galleries and upper rooms are located, as well as the decoration of the doors and windows, along with the badges & coats of arms of the owner family that, interestingly enough, were not located at the entrance but within the courtyards.
But if something draws attention to the visitor it is probably the main staircase, one of the elements that give more importance and distinction to these palace-houses. The lighting is natural, and creates subtle games of chiaroscuro inside, and starting with the nineteenth century the courtyard of Palma de Mallorca were being decorated with pots of green leaves and flowers, making these historic places even more beautiful and inspiring.
Route through the best courtyard in the city
These are some of the most important courtyards that you will find among the twisted alleys of Palma’s centre.
Casal Solleric (Pº del Born, 27): 18th-century palace in the Rococo style in transition towards neoclassicism, acquired by the City Council in 1975 as an exhibition centre.
Can Bordils (C / de l’Almudaina, 9): One of the oldest manor houses that are preserved in Palma since it was built in the 13th century on foundations from the Muslim times, although it has had several reforms. Currently it hosts the Municipal Archive.
Can Oms (C / Almudaina, 7): It is a courtyard divided into 3 spaces by columns with Ionic capitals whose coat of arms can be seen on the balcony of the staircase.
Can Vivot (C / Savella, 4): Perhaps one of the most beautiful of our route. Note that in this house the conspiracy in favour of the Bourbons was plotted during the Civil War.
Can Amorós (C / d’en Morey, 1): The most characteristic feature of this patio are the red marble columns of Baroque style that contrasts with the sobriety of its patio.
Can Forteza de Sitjar (C / Concepció, 24): Although it is not one of the prettiest, in it we will find 3 elements that make it unique: the balcony for celebrations, a drinking trough for horses and a ‘scroller’, an iron piece anchored to the ground that served to remove the mud from your shoes.
Can Ordines D’Almandrá (C / d’en Morey, 8): The coats of arms of the Vivot and Santjoan families stand out here, along with a late Gothic door and a Roman tombstone that was found during the restoration works that took place in the twentieth century.
Can Juny (C / de Can Savellá, 13): Sixteenth-century courtyard with a medieval background and illustrious guests such as the Emperor Charles V, according to what tradition tells us.
Can Dusai (C / de Can Dusai, 3): Dating from the 16th century, the large shallow arch resting on pilasters is a clear example of the architecture of the courtyard of Palma de Mallorca.
Ca’n Catlar del Llorer (C / de Can Savella, 15): Among the preserved courtyards, it is one of the oldest in Palma. Of Gothic style, we can clearly observe that its arcs, octagonal pillars and entrance stand out.
Can Salas (C / de la Puresa, 2): It claims on having one of the oldest entrances to a courtyard that are preserved in the city. Notable is the work done on the capitals and shields of the thirteenth century flanked by an ornamental repertoire inherited from the medieval bestiary.
History, art and time have left their mark on all these courtyard in Palma de Mallorca and in many others (Can Alemany, Can Marcel, Can Tacón, Can Berga, Can Canet, Can de la Torre, Can Formiguera, Can Ferragut, Can Alomar, Can Comasema), writing through its walls the memories of a past that has survived until our days & is here to stay and continue to fascinate everyone who contemplates them.