<Attractions in The Belearic Islands

Bellver Castle, Palma, Majorca

Bellver Castle (Catalan: Castell de Bellver) is a Gothic style castle on a hill 3 km northwest of Palma on the Island of Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. 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 circular 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 as well a large principal tower and three minor towers. The minor towers 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 appareance 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, and loopholes were built instead.

Having been built as a seat for the royal court of James II of Mallorca, its structure combines the needs of a palace with defensive elements. The most noted feature in its structure is its circular shape, unique in Spain. Both its surrounding wall and the inner yard are circular, 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 archs.

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