From military zone to balcony overlooking the Mediterranean.
Palma's city walls were demolished at the end of the 19th century so that the city might expand (they would not have been demolished today). The city wall that has been renovated was saved from demolition because the city could not extend into the sea.
Gaudí and Jujol were at their best in the renovations of Palma Cathedral, camouflaged in 20th century gothic; they scratched, tattooed, embedded, scribbled, hung, recycled, cut, reinvented... for conversing –in sharps and flats, with whispers, with some noise, fondling, with gestures– with the nave that they raised with hoisted sails. The Episcopal Palace was also a fortunate recipient of some of the work of the genius and his assistant.
They were the last artists in residence in the neighbourhood.
To offer shade to the Baluard de ses Voltes [Ses Voltes Bastion], a floating hang glider was placed, a baldaquin-sail measuring 50 x 25 m –prisoner of the city walls– formed by rhombuses made of polyester fibre fabric in the colours of the Balearic merchant navy. The structure is a grid of steel cables tensed between two posts and the wall.
Beneath this canopy the paving undulates to support benches for the spectators. Two different sizes of melon-slice shaped recesses in the concrete paving allow children to sit on the gentle slope in front of the stage platform and rest their feet.
Like an insinuated curtain, the iron bars from the balcony of Palma Town Hall –that recreate, silhouetted, superimposed amphoras– have been reproduced in wood several times bigger. What is solid here would have been void in the Council building.
The old ramps, with their stone parapets, change as they reach the space for the bastion that is protected by the city walls: the Renaissance wall, upon which the Cathedral rests, and the one from the 18th century that once cut off the sea. One ramp widens and the other narrows. At the bottom of one ramp the moulding that adorns the parapet coils into an ionic scroll like the well-known local pastry, and the other, as though it did not know how to end by folding itself, hides by sinking into the paving.
The mouth of the train tunnel that once arrived at the port (1932) has been used to open a new one to reach the unroofed interior of the bastion. It is shaped with a forced perspective –like the one at the Palazzo Spada by Borromini– so that it seems to be much shorter than it is on entering from the park outside. A quarter of a sun from a quarter of a well stains the tunnel with light half way along. Outside, to prevent a cul-de-sac, a new stair is built from blocks and leftovers from other pieces of marés sandstone that have been restored, as though it were rubble or a crumbled wall.
A bishop's biretta and a military cap crown a parapet on the boulevard along the top of the city wall. Great prickly pears serve as bollards for protecting the corners of the walls.
Iroko wood doors, protected with copper cladding; recessed bronze lamp-bollards accompany the pedestrian routes. The spotlights that illuminate the Cathedral complete the lighting of the area.
An extendable exterior bar with a 1.4m diameter wheel is protected by a concertinaed wooden roof –a sheet of copper, made green by the sea salt– that connects it to the interior winter bar, below the ramp, lit by restored chandeliers.
The plant room is next to the bar, with mouldings on the door and ventilation windows, somewhat Moorish –so it seems.
Six new Canary palm trees accompany the three that were already there.
The Palma concrete paving stone, the colour of marés, based on the geometry of the bastion, floods the entire paved area. In the Portella area, the paving that spills into the square is of stone from Binissalem like that of the surrounding streets.
The Baluard de Berard [Berard Bastion] is the plaza where the celebrations of the Calatrava neighbourhood are held. Thirty date palms are planted and trace the front of the buildings that face the bastion. Benches made of blocks of marés sandstone, also follow this geometry. There is still a lot of space open to the sea. The street lamps hang from catenary cables that stretch between posts.
The Llorenç Villalonga Square keeps the twenty-seven ombú trees –also known in Catalan as "beautiful shadow" trees– whose trunks transform themselves into wrinkled roots, and resemble remains of elephant hides that grow rapidly, deforming the ground.
From the facade of the houses, the plaza slopes gently downwards until it reaches the parapet of the city wall.
An almost flat space has been built, that extends from the facades, for placing the terraces of bars or restaurants from which, over the parapet that borders a boulevard, the sea can be seen. Large holes in the extension of Palma paving stones are left around the ombú trees, so that their roots can grow freely. Another eleven palm trees follow those of the Baluard de Berard. This space is also lit with hanging street lamps.
The bollards for the cars that enter the car parks are prismatic extrusions of four pieces of the Palma paving stone. A stair at the end of the plaza and beyond the Porta del Mar tunnel links with the Baluard del Príncep [The Prince's Bastion].