Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
Situated on the southern coast of Mallorca, the largest city in the Balearic Islands archipelago is Palma. Mallorca’s cultural and economic hub is the 12th largest urban area in all of Spain. Palma has an area of 21.4 square kilometers, housing half the population of Mallorca and despite being compared to Barcelona and Florence, it is twinned with Naples, Italy. In 1983, Palma officially became the capital of the Balearic Islands.
Originally founded by General Quintus Caecilius Metellus as a Roman camp in 123 B.C.E., the island of Mallorca was a part of the Tarraconensis province of Spain. The Romans established two ports, Pollentia to the northeast and Palma in the south. Palma was utilized as a port for Africa, while Pollentia was used for Roman cities in the northwest Mediterranean. Prior to the Muslim conquest and downfall of the Western Roman Empire, existed a period where the Byzantine Empire was on Mallorca. Due to the lack of documentation, the nature of this presence is unknown, but for the 10th century to 1229 A.D., Palma was under Islamic control as “Medina Mayurqa”. When James I of Aragon captured Palma in 1229, it was given municipality as “Cuitat de Mallorca”, and maintained as the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca. Perpignan and Palma became a joint capital of the Kingdom once James I of Aragon passed away.
From 1229 onward, the foundations of Mallorcan society began to flourish, although various war-like events would soon take place. In 1391 began an anti-Jewish movement that forced the Jewish people to flee, convert, or be killed – actions that would ultimately be reinforced in the Inquisition. While the Revolt of 1450 was occurring, it was farmers that were then harassed. A river that divided the city would eventually spur social and economic issues as an Upper and Lower town of the city would be established. Mallorca was on the decline by the 16th century, and became a haven for pirates by the 17th century. Finally, the War of the Spanish Succession ended and destroyed the Crown of Aragon in 1714 when Barcelona fell.
The city would eventually begin to thrive again as Charles III of Spain allowed commercial activity to bounce back by removing interdiction of commerce with the Spanish colonies in America. Once Algeria became occupied by France, fear of Maghredi attacks were eliminated, allowing further economic expansion with new maritime routes surfacing. Since 1950, Mallorca has become a prime tourist destination, growing from 600,000 visitors in 1960 to 19.2 million visitors by 2001. Tourists can view the old city, Arab baths, Palma Cathedral, Bellver Castle, or simply indulge in the beautiful Playa de S’amarador. For a glorious, picturesque scene of mountains, be sure to visit the Serra de Tramuntana and explore the UNESCO location overlooking the sea.
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