PALMA AS A CITY OF THE PAST ALMUDAINA ARCH AND ARAB BATHS
Those are the only monuments left from the early Arab town, before 1229, the year in which the city was stormed by the Christians under King James I, the Conqueror.
The Almudaina Arch is situated in the street of the same name and it was one of the gates of the ramparts in the neighbourhood of the royal palace.
The Arab baths stand at 13 Calle Serra (Portella quarter) on the ground floor close to a picturesque garden and are privately owned. The vault is supported by twelve columns joined with horse-shoe-shaped arches in a small square room covered over with a small cupola. They are in good state of preservation.
The arch of S’Hort del Rei also Arabian is moulded in the wall which at that time was the “RONDA” (a clear space between a town and its walls) of La Almudaina palace, which has been restored. It is said that under this arch passed the vessels which carried the Wali who, during many centuries, ruled this island and had his residence in this palace.
Palace of Conde Formiguera.
In this same 19th century were begun the internal reforms which were to have so much repercussion on those realised later. With La Riera deviated, a large square was left free, in which were held the great festivals, tournaments, military parades and so on and through which circulated the great horse-drawn carriages of the epoch. By initiative of the Captain General the Municipality built the boulevard El Borne, placing stone benches along it as well as trees and potted plants and at its end the four figures Ses Lleones. In 1833 the fountain Las Tortugas was installed. This still exists, although modified, and gave rise to the popular name of what to-day is the square called Plaza de Pio XII. This promenade (the Borne) was provided with four • large oil lamps, which, in 1859, on the appearance of the first gas works in Majorca, were substituted by new gas-lighting. Almost simultaneously the boulevard called La Rambla was built, also above the disappeared river-bed. The Rambla was
Palma. The city from Maritime promenade.
Palma. Via Roma (once La Rambla).
provided with a fountain also, at its northern end. This fountain, much altered, still exists. In 1852 the reform of the upper part of the city was begun, with the opening of the street called Calle de Colon, and work on the square to be called Plaza Mayor was commenced. In 1875 the first railway line Palma-Inca was inaugurated.
The 20th century, up to now, has been for the city an epoch of splendour of which nobody could ever have thought. In its early part the great expansion began. In 1902 the first electric power station was built and the Gran Hotel was opened, this being the first of the series of hotels which were to culminate in the splendid hotel industry of to-day. In 1911 the service of fast steamers which make the crossing Palma-Barcelona in eight hours was inaugurated. In 1916 came the electric tramways which connected the centre of the city with the suburbs and in the same year Hedilla make for the first time the crossing Barcelona-Palma by air. In 1931 comes the esplanade of Santa Catalina (Se Faxina), Which is to-day the square called Crucero “Baleares”. Then comes the “James the First” school, and, by virtue of a special law, the historic Castle of Bellver is handed over to the city. Between the years ’50 and ’60 come the transformations and alterations in the boulevards (“pa-seos”), the avenue called Avenida de Jaime III and the gardens of S’Hort del Rei, and the restoration of the Arab arch of the old city wall, the new market hall, the marine promenade called Paseo Maritimo, the great outer port, the airport, one of the busiest of Europe, and so on… In this century so far the city’s population has quadrupled. With the enormous affluence of holidaymakers (“turistas”) and going forward always on its own private initiative, Palma has situated itself among the first cities of the Mediterranean. (J. LLABRES BERNAL.)
Palace’s window Marques del Palmer. El Sol street.
Courtyard in La Concepcidn street.