The King's Garden Mallorca
Majorca | Spain
Up until the 17th century the city was split in half by a river that ran almost right through the centre. The road leading down from the centre of town, was where the river used to flow and exit to the sea, as indicated on the map. It created two areas that operated almost independently- the High Town and the Low Town, known as the Vila d’Amunt and Vila d’Avall respectively, and at times fighting broke out between the two sides.
Although the river provided a life source to the city, its numerous floods were often catastrophic and during one of the worst in 1403, the lower part of the city was demolished claiming more than 5000 victims. The situation became untenable and was finally rectified in 1623 when its course was changed to the one it runs today. Two in particular, El Passeig des Born and Las Ramblas, have competed ever since for the honour of being, not only Palma’s, but Mallorca’s most beautiful prominade.On the old river’s foundations spacious avenues were laid. At the bottom of the royal palace Almudaina there is a small enclosure with a pool and a large arch. This was constructed by the Arabs in the 12th century and provided the palace with a private mooring for its boats. Don’t forget, the Park is a recent addition to Palma and up until then the sea extended to the city walls flowing through the arch itself. The arch is 18m in diameter and is called the ‘Arch of Las Atarazanas’, atarazana meaning shipyard in Spanish. It was hidden for many years until being restored in 1961 and is one of the few remaining structures left over from the Arab period.
Moving away from the arch and turning right we enter the King’s Garden. Although beautiful today, this area used to have a far more exotic and varied selection of plant life. The soil here was particularly fertile, no doubt a result of the river running along side, and the gardens were abundant with exotic vegetation. It was also used as a breeding ground for many types of animals and became the home to many wild beasts like lions, bears and wolves, which the king had received as gifts.
The gardens were used in this way for many centuries until in 1880, due to financial constraints, the land was sold to a private firm and heavy construction began. What was built did nothing to enhance the palace’s aesthetics and the buildings lasted less than 90 years. In 1967 the city council decided to reclaim the land, demolishing the buildings and restoring the King’s Garden to the way it is today. Key features in the garden include the Arab style fountains and the contemporary sculptures scattered amongst them.
One of the most well known sculptures you will find on leaving the garden and is called ‘Personatge’ by Joan Miro but is more affectionately known as ‘The Egg’.