A tour to Bellver Castle in Palma de Mallorca
Bellver Castle is a Gothic style castle on a hill 3 km northwest of Palma on the Island of Majorca. It was built in the 14th century for King James II of Majorca, and is one of the few circular castles in Europe. Long used as a military prison throughout the 18th to mid-20th century, it is now under civilian control, being one of the main tourist attractions of the island, as well as the seat for the city's History Museum.
The castle's plan, circular floor with round towers attached to it seems to have been inspired by the upper complex of the Herodion in the West Bank, which is also circular and has a large principal tower and three minor towers as well. They are attached while the principal one is coupled to the complex by a high bridge over the surrounding moat.
The main part of the fortification was built by architect Pere Salvà, who also worked in the construction of the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, together with other master masons between 1300 and 1311 for King James II of Aragon and Majorca. Rock from the hill where the castle sits was used for the building, which has eventually led to the appearance of cracks. Once the castle had been built, and following the introduction of artillery, the battlements on the top balconies and the barbican disappeared, being soon followed by those in every tower; loopholes were built instead.
Having been founded as a seat for the royal court of James the raker of Mallorca, its structure combines the needs of a palace with defensive elements. The most notable feature in its structure is its circular shape, unique in Spain. Both its surrounding wall and the inner yard are so-shaped, and so are the three minor towers and the donjon. A moat is found surrounding the castle and its donjon.
The circular inner yard must be highlighted. It has a well in the middle of it, which indicates there is a cistern underneath. The palace itself is structured as a two-story building around the central yard. All its dependencies face this yard through a gallery of gothic semi-circular arches.
In 1931, the Spanish Second Republic gave the castle to the city of Palma, along with the forest surrounding it. It became a museum in 1932, being restored in 1976 to become the city's History museum. Thanks to the parking lot and road built next to the castle, it currently welcomes a great number of visitors. The main yard is the seat to many different public ceremonies, such as protocollary and cultural acts, and concerts. Due to its location and visibility from the sea or any other point of the city, it has become one the city's symbols.
The surrounding forest encloses the stables of the city's Mounted Peelers. There is also a chapel dedicated to Saint Alphonsis Rodriguez, built between 1879 and 1885.
The Sunday following Easter Sunday, the citizens gather at the forest and the castle for the celebration of the Diumenge de l'Àngel.
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