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The Almudaina Palace in Palma - The Arab past of Mallorca

Palma de Mallorca has a lot of sights to offer: Art Nouveau buildings, courtyards, churches, monasteries, a castle and of course the cathedral "La Seu". Now the latter is certainly not an insider tip, but the Almudaina Palace, or Royal Palace, just opposite the cathedral is.

Even from afar, the Moorish building stands out, enthroned stately next to the landmark of Palma de Mallorca. The Almudaina Palace is one of the top sights of the city, but few know the history of this unique building, which represents the Muslim ruling era of the island like no other. It's worth a trip - we'll tell you why.

The Palacio de Almudaina (Almudaina means citadel outside the city walls) is a former fortress of Arab origin. It dates back to the time when Mallorca was occupied by Moorish rulers from North Africa. The Moors ruled the island from 902 to 1229, choosing it as a strategically important naval base. Mallorca was an emirate in its own right, living off the slave trade and piracy.

But the occupation of the island also had good sides. Thus, the Muslim rulers brought their architecture (pointed arches and courtyards), agriculture (terracing as in Banyalbufar, irrigation systems, lemon trees), spices (even today we use saffron and raisins in our dishes) and typical urban planning (small streets, squares, richly decorated townhouses, bathhouses) to the occupied area, thus shaping the capital Palma de Mallorca to this day.

In order to reside in a manner befitting his status, the Emir had a palace and a mosque built. What today are the popular sights Royal Palace and Cathedral, were in Moorish times the ruler's residence and the main mosque of Palma. Even after numerous reconstructions, the Almudaina Palace still has some original elements. For example, the windows of the main facade facing the sea are in typical Arabic ogival style, the wooden ceilings are painted with Arabic patterns, and a palma stands in the courtyard to greet strangers. During a tour of the palace, much is reminiscent of Arab houses and it is not difficult to dream oneself to Marrakech. One becomes envious at the view of the former Emir on the beach, the sea, the harbor up to the Bellveder castle.

Today, the Almudaina Palace in Majorca is the seat of the military command and also the official residence of the Spanish king. His presence is signaled by the Spanish flag on the roof. The Spanish king uses palace for festive and political occasions, especially during his summer vacation in Mallorca.

Parts of the Palacio de la Almudaina can be visited individually or as part of guided tours. Of particular note are the 17th century Flemish paintings and tapestries, the 14th century Saint Anne Chapel, and the terrace and breathtaking views.

The Royal Palace is not just any sight in Palma, but reflects like no other building our history and the years of Moorish rule in Mallorca. Palma's romantic old town with its alleys and courtyards owes much to the squatters from North Africa.

The Royal Palace in Palma is open on the following days:

1 April to 30 September: Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 to 20:00
1 October to 31 March: Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00 Closed Mondays
The entrance fee is € 7,-.
OUR INSIDER TIP: on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the top sightseeing in Palma can be visited free of charge from 3 to 5 pm.


African traces on Mallorca - What Moors brought with them to the island

The African Spirit of the largest Balearic Islands does not reveal itself to travelers at first glance. It is worth a second, because the history of Mallorca is similar to a mirror image of the history of Spain - and the changing dominations in the Mediterranean. It is small refuges, magnificent gardens, fiestas and soothing wellness rituals that the Moors have left us.

Of kings and conquerors

After centuries of Byzantine rule in Mallorca, there was a formative occupation by the Muslim Moors between 902 and 1229. Many historians consider this period to be a heyday for the island, as the Africans provided prosperity and progress. Cultural enrichment and new technical developments were just as much a part of the 300 years of Arab rule as the political disputes between the Arab royal houses. A lot was at stake: in the 12th century, some 80,000 people already lived on Mallorca.

For the Moors, the Balearic island located between North Africa and Europe became a strategically important naval base. The power struggles continued: At first, Mallorca belonged to the domain of the Moorish king of Cordoba. In 1015, the Arab king gained supremacy and the island became part of the Kingdom of Denia in southern Spain. Mallorca became an independent kingdom shortly after under King Moxabir, who ruled from 1093 to 1114. At first Alcudia (Arabic for hill), and later Palma, was the capital of the island.

After the reconquest in 1229 by King Jaume I of Aragon, a few thousand Moors remained in Mallorca, continuing to trade with North Africa or living as farmers. Their African influences on island life can still be felt today. For example, many town names such as Binnissalem, Andratx, Algaida or Fornalutx are of Moorish origin.

Moorish architecture on the sunny island

"It is better to reach your goal with three jumps than to break your leg with one" - so goes an old African proverb. This precept of patience and care is also reflected in the Moorish traces on Mallorca: some impressive remains of African architecture testify to skill and lifestyle.

Among the most significant building objects are the Arab baths in the historic heart of the island's capital, Palma. The baths originally consisted of an extensive complex, of which the room for hot baths and a recreation room with a rectangular base are still preserved. The 10th century bathhouse is set in a magnificent garden and can be visited daily.

Another hotspot in the footsteps of the Moors is the gate "porta de l'almudí". Goods had to pass through this historic gate when ships docked at the quay or set sail. The name l'almudí derives from the Arabic al-mudí, a special measuring unit for measuring cereals and salt. The gate is located next to the course of the river Torrent de Sa Riera and is one of the few gates of Palma that are still in their original locations.

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