From the Gothic period, through the Renaissance and ending in the Baroque, the courtyards of stately homes and mansions in Mallorca have a history and charm that help make island architecture so special. Courtyards are an attraction which can be visited on organised tours, with many of the houses now managed by public-private partnerships and home to museums or public buildings that can be easily visited. Stay at JS Palma Stay **** and enjoy all the charm of Mallorcan courtyards this March.
History and function
Some sources date the origin of Mallorcan courtyards to the 13th century. Others, prefer to place it in the 14th. What does seem clear is that the courtyards were influenced by medieval Catalan courtyards and may have been the result of the Catalan conquest of the island.
The conclusion of courtyard evolution is also not that clear. Some say the 18th century and others the 19th. The reason is that the courtyards are based on different architectural styles and characteristics. There are, however, a number of common features repeated in most courtyards, such as the sunken stone paving or central well for collecting water, columns with ornate capitals which surround and frame the courtyards and rounded and pointed arches.
The courtyards were reached through large wooden doors which normally opened onto the family coat of arms. The courtyard was like an anteroom that gave access to more intimate family areas in the interior rooms which looked out onto the courtyard. Normally, the courtyard could also be reached from the upper floors by a large stone staircase which dominated the space.
The courtyards were full of life and bore witness both to family traditions and the nature of the Mallorcan people: reserved and family-focused. The courtyards were not only for stately homes and mansions owned by the richest families on the island, they were also a feature in middle-class town houses. Obviously the decoration and details of the courtyards were a sign of the social class of its owners, with the most detailed and well decorated courtyards owned by the most affluent and a sign of distinction much appreciated by society as a whole.
Tours and patios to visit
There are organised routes and tours for people who want to visit Mallorcan courtyards, but they are only available at certain times of year. If you don’t want to wait, you can design your own route and visit courtyards that are open to the public all year round. Examples include Ca La Gran Cristiana, home to the Museum of Mallorca, Can Vivot, which dates back to the 17th century and is open all year, or the monumental Casal Solleric. If you stay at JS Palma Stay**** and want to learn a little more about the history of the island, you must not miss Mallorca’s beautiful patios. A different way to get to know Mallorca this March.