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Palma seen through its patios


The lovely patios of the stately homes and palaces in the centre of Palma are one of the city’s most beautiful picture-postcard images. Some of them even date back to the period of Muslim rule, between the 10th and 13th centuries. At the beginning of the 19th century, over 500 patios were documented. Few remain in a good state of conservation nowadays, but there are just enough for one to stumble across occasionally among the cool, narrow, silent streets of the old town, quite close to Rialto Living, in fact. Shall we begin our stroll?

The first patio we can stop at is at Can Bordils, one of the oldest stately homes in Mallorca. Its origins lie in the Muslim era, and the historical arch of La Almudaina straddles the street where the house is located, on the site of one of the gateways to the town built during the island’s Roman period, 2000 years ago. This is a square courtyard, resembling a cloister, with beautiful coffering on the ceiling. Can Bordils is now the home of the city’s Municipal Archive, holding treasures dating from as far back as the year 1200.

The palace of Can Forteza, located in Calle Concepción, once belonged to the Zafortezas, a 14th-century family of Mallorcan nobles. This patio is well worth seeing, as it contains three elements that make it unique: a “wooing” balcony, a water trough and what is known as an esfangador, an iron contraption that was used for scraping mud from shoes.

The walls of the architecturally elegant Can Vivot, in Calle Savella, harbour a conspiracy story that may well have changed European history. In 1711 the Austrian house of Habsburg ruled over Mallorca, along with the rest of Spain. But in this very house the Marquess of Vivot, a fervent defender of the house of Philip of Anjou, plotted a change in the monarchy with others who were loyal to the Bourbons, during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). The manoeuvre failed and the Marquess was condemned to death, a sentence he managed to elude at the last moment.

The patio of Casal Solleric, in Paseo del Borne, is another emblematic space in Palma. Its style lies somewhere between Rococo and Neoclassical, and it can be visited and enjoyed to the full now, in its role as a contemporary art exhibition centre.

Can Oms (C. Almudaina, 7) and its patio, which is divided into three spaces by columns with Ionic capitals; Can Amorós (C. Morey, 1) with its red marble columns; Can Salas (C. Pureza, 2), with its historical coat of arms on the wall, dating from the 13th century; and Can Ordines d’Alamandrà (C. Morey, 8), with its Gothic doorway and a Roman gravestone, are some of the more significant courtyards that give rise to a “soothing calm”, in the words of the famous writer Azorín, in 1906.

And to round off this tour of the patios of Palma, how about chilling for a while in the patio of Rialto Living, and enjoying a refreshing drink at the Café Rialto? Our concept store occupies part of the Baroque palace that was once the home of the Irish military doctor John O'Ryan, who settled in Mallorca to escape the persecution of Catholics in his homeland.

You are welcome to come and see it at your leisure!

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