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La Seu (Majorca Cathedral)


The Cathedral is Majorca's most emblematic monument, as it perfectly synthesises the last eight centuries of its history. The image of a great ship on the sea dominating the bay of Palma with its beauty and presence first surprises visitors before arousing their curiosity and becoming a symbol of the island's historical and spiritual heritage.

Built next to the Mediterranean, the Cathedral leads a monumental ensemble, evoking the cultures that came before the conquest of Madina Mayurqa, on 31 December 1229, by James I, the King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona. James the Conqueror, following the habit of the time, consecrated the old mosque to the Virgin Mary and prepared to build a new church in the style of the era. There is documentary evidence from 1230 relating to the work on the Cathedral.

Building work, as we now know, started with the Royal Chapel in around 1300, during the reign of James II (1276-1311), the first monarch of the Crown of Majorca. In this way the plan for a Gothic cathedral whose most important building work took place in the 14th and 15th centuries. The interior of the building was strongly influenced by the Baroque in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially in the form of altarpieces, paintings and sculptures marked by the spirituality following the Council of Trent, that coincided with a period of economic and social splendour for Majorca's church and society. It is worth noting some significant pieces from this era, such as the altarpiece of the Corpus Christi by Jaume Blanquer, the cloister and the new chapter house. In 1902, with the aim of adapting the Cathedral's space to the new liturgical and pastoral requirements, the bishop Pere Joan Campins commissioned the architect Antoni Gaudí to renovate the whole church. Gaudí's work lasted approximately ten years (1904-1914). The works comprised the recovery, rearrangement and decoration of the space in the central nave and of the Royal Chapel (currently the main altar), basically by moving the choir, until then located between the second and third bays of the nave, eliminating the main Gothic altarpiece, making the baldachin of the main altar, incorporating the bishop's cathedra in the Presbytery, illuminating the space with glass windows that it had not until then had, as well as artificial light and candelabras, and designing a large number of liturgical furnishings. In line with the note of constant modernization of the building, the artist Miquel Barceló was invited to make a contribution to the Chapel of the Sacrament. Barceló's contemporary artistic contribution, dedicated to the Eucharist (the feeding of the multitude) was unveiled on 2 February 2007.