After Class Activities

Our program allows you plenty of time to discover your new country, culture, traditions, and everyday life after your class is over. Examples of typical cultural opportunities: visit the Old Quarter and Cathedral, go sunbathing on one of the many great beaches, enjoy the best nightlife of the Mediterranean, take an excursion through the Call or Jewish district of Palma. Get yourself started for a trip to Palma de Mallorca with the links below:

Main Sights: Get to know Palma de Mallorca

Palace of Almudaina
A royal palace has stood on this site since the Muslim walis (governors) built their alcazar soon after the Arab conquest. It was convected into Gothic style under Jaume II, but elements of Islamic architecture remain - like the Moorish arches seen from the seafront, lit up at night like a row of lanterns. The courtyard, laid out in 1309 and flanked by palm trees, is at its best in late afternoon when the sun falls on the cathedral towers overhead. Just off the courtyard is the royal chapel, Capella de Santa Ana.

The S Hort del Rei gardens beneath the palace make a pleasant place to sit beneath the fountains watching the world go by. Look out for the Arc de la Drassana, once the gateway to the royal docks; near here is a statue of a hondero or Balearic slinger. The gardens were rebuilt in the 1960s, forcing the demolition of several houses; their best-known landmark is Joan Miro s Egg sculpture, which few people can resist sticking their heads through.

Palma Cathedral
The glory of Palma - a magnificent Gothic cathedral whose sandstone walls and flying buttresses seem to rise out of the sea. Anything you see inside Palma cathedral will come as a disappointment once you have stood on the seafront and gazed up at its golden sandstone exterior climbing above the old city walls. La Seu stands out uttery from its surroundings, a demonstration of the might of Mallorca s Christian conquerors to all who arrived by sea.

Tradition has it that a storm arose as Jaume I was sailing towards Mallorca. He vowed that if he landed safely he would build a great church in honor of the Virgin on New Year's Day 1230, a day after the fall of Palma, the foundation stone was symbolically laid on the site of the city s main mosque. Work continued for 400 years - and had to resume in 1851 when an earthquake destroyed the west front. More touches were added this century by the Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí.

Olivar Market
When you re tired of tourist sights and want to meet the people of Palma instead, head for this covered market. It is a feast for the eyes - dazzling displays of flowers, huge piles of oranges, buckets full of olives, fish you never knew existed. Those of a squeamish disposition should avoid the upstairs meat counters, where the pigs and rabbits look like pigs and rabbits rather than sterile pieces of packaged flesh. A good place to buy ham and cheese, or to stop for tortilla at one of the tapas stalls, where the workers drink brandy with their breakfast coffee.

Passeig des Born
For more than a century this short, tree-lined promenade has been at the heart of city life; it has witnessed festas, demonstrations and countless generations of families enjoying an evening stroll. During the Franco era it was renamed after the dictator, but everyone still called it the Born . Come here to take the pulse of Palma from a seat at a pavement cafe - Bar Bosch, near the top of the Born in Placa Rei Joan Carles I, is the traditional place. Near here is Ca n Solleric, a modern art gallery which opened in 1995 in a converted mansion.

Excursions: Explore more of the region

A Day on the Train
The opening of a railway line from Palma to Soller in 1912, and a tram linking Soller to its port the following year, brought the northwest coast within easy reach of the capital. The vintage carriages are still in use, providing a joyride for tourists and a relief for locals from the terrors of the Palma-Soller road. Five trains a day leave from Placa d Espanya in Palma - the 10:40 is labelled the turistico but all you get for the extra cost is a more crowded train and a short photo stop.

The train, all mahogany panels and brass fittings, leaves Palma amid a bustle of hisses, hoots and whistles before rattling down the city streets and into the suburbs. Soon you are out on the plain, passing small country stations and pigs rooting beneath the trees. You can get off at Bunyola and visit the Tunel factory where Mallorca s herb-based liqueurs are made - the label shows a train emerging from a tunnel.

Stay on the train and soon you start to climb, entering a 3-km tunnel before returning to daylight for the drop, through a dizzying series of bends, to Soller. The Orange Express tram to Port de Soller runs hourly, connecting with the arrival of the train. Stand on the platform as it clatters through orchards and back gardens and you can imagine you are living 50 years earlier. It takes 20 minutes to complete the 5-km journey to the port. If you do not want to return the same way, buses leave from the jetty for Palma via Deia and Valldemossa.

Palma Bay
The good, the bad and the ugly sides of Mallorcas tourist development meet along a 25-km stretch of coast. The former villages of S Arenal and Magalluf sit facing each other across palma Bay. Once upon a time, a fisherman casting his net into the sea at S Arenal could have gazed around an empty coastline where the only buildings to stand out would have been Palma s cathedral and castle. Nowadays he would barely be able to distinguish them among a continuous stretch of hotels, a concrete jungle extending all the way to Magalluf. And he wouldn t be there anyway as there are few fish left to catch.

Like it or loathe it, you are bound to spend some time in Palma Bay even if you are not staying here, you should visit at least once to see some of the best, and the worst, that Mallorca has to offer. Each of the resorts (described separately in the What To See section) has its own character - young or old, Brtish or German, cheap-and-cheerful or jet-set rich. One moment you can be in Portals Nous, with its chic marina crammed with millionaires yachts, the next in Magalluf, all British pubs.

Occasionally you come across a glimpse of what this coastline must once have been like. Follow the road beyond Magalluf through the pine woods. Suddenly you are among tiny coves where, out of season, you might still find your own private beach. Eventually you reach the headland of Cap de Cala Figuera where you can look back at sweeping views of the entire bay. Cliffs plunge into the clear blue sea, with not a hotel in sight. Come up here at midnight for utter peace and solitude; but listen carefully and you might just be able to hearthe disco beat of Magalluf pounding away beneath you.

Architecture: Discover unique styles & structures

Arab Baths
These 10th century baths are virtually all that remain of the Arab city of Medina Mayurqa. They were probably part of a nobleman s house and are similar to those found in other Islamic cities. The tepidarium has a dome in the shape of a half orange, with 25 round shafts for sunlight, supported by a dozen columns.

Notice how each of the columns is different - they were probably salvaged from the ruins of various Roman buildings, an early example of recycling. Hammams were meeting-places as well as washhouses, and the courtyard with its cactus, palm and orange trees would have made a pleasant place to cool off after a hot bath.

Gran Hotel
The Gran Hotel was Palma s first luxury hotel when it opened in 1903. Designed by the Catalan architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner, it was the building which began the craze for modernists (art nouveau) architecture in the city. Restored by the Fundacio la Caixa and reopened in 1993, it is now an art gallery featuring changing exhibitions and a permanent display of paintings by Hermen Anglada-Camarasa, the founder of the Pollenca school on the ground floor there is a bookshop and a trendy cafe-bar.

La Llotja
With twin turrets and an angel over the door, this 15th century seafront building looks half-castle, half-church. In fact it is neither. It was designed by Guillem Sagrera (the architect of the cathedral s Portal del Mirador) as the city s exchange. Stand among the spiralling pillars, gaze up at the rib vaulting, and try to imagine the merchants of 500 years ago haggling over silk, spices and silver. Nowadays La Llotja is a cultural center, hosting temporary exhibitions.

Spanish Village
Spain gets the theme-park treatment at this village (Poble español) in the outskirts of Palma, where reproductions of famous buildings from Cordoba, Toledo and Madrid are gathered together with typical houses from the Spanish regions. You can eat Spanish food in the Plaza Mayor (Spanish spellings here) or sit outside a cafe watching the tourists buy pearls and souvenirs at the village shops.

A visit here gives you a whistle-stop tour of Spanish architecture, showing its development through Muslim and then Christian influences. If you have never been to Granada, it s worth coming just for the reproduction of the salon, baths and patio from the Alhambra Palace. Various artists give displays of handicrafts in workshops scattered throughout the village.

Chapels: Step onto sacred ground

Palma Cathedral
The glory of Palma - a magnificent Gothic cathedral whose sandstone walls and flying buttresses seem to rise out of the sea. Anything you see inside Palma cathedral will come as a disappointment once you have stood on the seafront and gazed up at its golden sandstone exterior climbing above the old city walls. La Seu stands out uttery from its surroundings, a demonstration of the might of Mallorca s Christian conquerors to all who arrived by sea.

Tradition has it that a storm arose as Jaume I was sailing towards Mallorca. He vowed that if he landed safely he would build a great church in honor of the Virgin on New Year s Day 1230, a day after the fall of Palma, the foundation stone was symbolically laid on the site of the city s main mosque. Work continued for 400 years - and had to resume in 1851 when an earthquake destroyed the west front. More touches were added this century by the Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi.

You enter through a side door, passing a small museum, head for the west portal and gaze down the long nave. Light pours in through the rose window, one of the worlds largest, 12m across and studded with 1,236 pieces of stained glass. The columns are ringed with wrought-iron candelabra by Gaudi; his most controversial addition is the unfinished Crown of Thorns, fashioned from cardboard and cork and suspended above the altar. Be sure to walk around to the south front, facing the sea, to look at the Portal del Miradon a 15th-century door by Guillem Sagrera featuring scenes from the Last Supper.

Cathedral of Saint Francesca
The facade of this 13th century church (remodeled after it was struck by lightning in the 17th century) is typically Mallorcan - a massive, forbidding sandstone wall with a delicately carved postal and a rose window at the center. You enter through peaceful Gothic cloisters with orange and lemon trees and a well at the center. Inside the church is the tomb of Ramon Llull (1235-1316), the Catalan mystic who became a hermit following a failed seduction attempt and was later stoned to death attempting to convert Muslims in Tunisia.

His statue can be seen on the Palma seafront; outside the basilica is a statue of another famous Mallorcan missionary, Fray Junipero Serra, who once lived in the monastery here. The streets behind the church, once home to jewelers and Jewish traders, are now run down and seedy and best avoided after dark.

Museums: Experience the history of past generations & cultures

Diocese Museum
This small museum of religious and historical artifacts is based in a wing of the former episcopal palace tucked behind the cathedral. Among the paintings, pulpits and prayer books are splendid Arab tapestries, a collection of ceramics spanning five centuries and a 17th century painting of baby Jesus carrying a cross. Look out for the portrait of St. George (Sant Jordi) with medieval Palma in the background.

Mallorca Museum
Billed as Mallorca s most important museum, this undoubtedly contains some fascinating exhibits but the displays lack imagination and it is difficult to get excited about bits of stone in glass cases, if you do not understand the captions Talaiotic and Roman remains are followed by Moorish ceramics and Christian art, providing a quick overview of Mallorcan history. It s worth the entrance fee just to see the building, a 17th-century palace built on the foundations of one of Mallorca s earliest Arab houses.

Colleccio March
This small collection of 20th century Spanish art belonged to the Mallorcan banker Joan March, once one of the world s richest men. There are just 36 pieces, each by a different artist, including Picasso, Dali and Miro. Some of the exhibits are the sort of thing that give modern art a bad name, but do go with an open mind.

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