Palma Cathedral – Modern accessibility meets Gothic architecture
The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma was built over many hundreds of years, beginning with King James I of Aragon in 1229 but not actually finished until 1691. While on our recent family trip to Palma, we decided to go and have a look at this stunning cathedral that dominates the old town and overlooks the sea. This did require some negotiation on the part of my husband and I, as my daughter particularly is not a huge fan of churches and cathedrals. In fairness to her however, this is largely because many of the beautiful churches we have tried to entice her in to in past times have been sadly lacking when it comes to accessibility for wheelchairs.
La Seu Cathedral was a welcome surprise with excellent accessibility throughout. On arrival at the cathedral we were advised to go round to a different entrance which would be easier to get in. This we did and indeed it was straightforward with level access leading down via ramps to a beautiful cloistered courtyard.
Once inside the main cathedral, there was ramped access everywhere which enabled us to see some of the magnificenct paintings and artefacts housed there.
My son was particularly taken with a painting of Saint Sebastian who I seem to remember also captured his attention when we went to The Vatican Museum a few years ago, when he was six. On this particular occasion he kept disappearing if we looked away for a few seconds. But there was no cause for concern as each time we just retraced our steps through a few rooms and there he’d be, standing mesmerised in front of a floor to ceiling painting of Saint Sebastian. It was really rather cute seeing this tiny boy standing transfixed in front of this huge imposing painting! Again, and again, and again……….
Anyway, moving on from Saint Sebastian, as I have tried many times before (!), the interior of the cathedral is absolutely spectacular. There are numerous and vividly beautiful stained glass windows but the most striking feature was that in the right hand chapel, in one of the apses flanking the main altar. It is a symbolic depiction of the feeding of the five thousand and is by a Mallorcan artist called Miquel Barcelo. A ceramic layer covers the fourteenth century stone and presents a very distinctive picture.
There were no difficulties accessing anywhere within the cathedral. There was even a small platform lift to enable one to access the gift shop for the obligatory souvenirs…
Overall we were very impressed with the accessibility. Kids seemed to enjoy themselves too so all in all a winner!