I am sorry it is Friday and you all thought it was time for the weekend – not before we learn some history. We visit Palma’s popular Plaça d’Espanya, the very centre of the city. Even if Cort (where the town hall is) is where all distances in Mallorca are measured from, if you are meeting friends in Palma you will most likely meet them at Plaça d’Espanya. It is where all trains in Mallorca and Palma’s underground lines start and end, where most bus lines stop and a great place to start your shopping evening. It’s got it all.
You will wonder what this equestrian statue represents. Right, this is Jaume I the Conqueror, known in Mallorca as Jaume el Conqueridor. He was born in 1208 in Montpelier, sovereign of the Kingdom of Aragon. Long story short, you will need to know the island was under Muslim rule for some 300 years, even if not much heritage has been kept. In 1229 Jaume I decided to conquer the island (arriving at Santa Ponça) and bring it back to Christian rule, creating the new Kingdom of Mallorca, independent from the Kingdom of Aragon. The Kingdom of Mallorca would be later conquered by Pere IV, who adjoined it to the Kingdom of Aragon. This was later added to the Kingdom of Spain as we know it today.
As I mentioned, in 1229 they touched ground in Santa Ponça and finally entered the city of Palma on 31st December. This is why even today this event is still commemorated in the capital of Mallorca as the Festa de l’Estendard, being the oldest civilian festivity maintained in Europe for so long – almost 800 years! It is felt by the locals as the birth of the Mallorca we know today. During the Festa de l’Estendard, the Catalan flag is placed in the centre of Plaça de Cort as well as a picture of Jaume I so that they can be honoured by the different institutions and the population.
Now you know the story behind this statue right in the centre of Palma and if you happen to visit the city around the end of December, do consider taking part in one of the oldest civilian festivities in the continent, the Festa de l’Estendard!