You can’t help be bowled over when the graceful gothic-baroque cathedral, with its august buttresses of soft yellow sandstone, comes into view. Apparently, in 1229, when a storm threatened to take down Jaume I and his fleet as they sailed into Mallorca, the audacious king declared he would knock together a church in the name of the Virgin Mary if they survived nature’s fury, which they did. It took a good 500 years, but what an end result. Famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudì was called onboard to inject his freakish talent into its restoration between 1904 and 1914, and parts of the interior reek of his rococo ways.
The Palau de l’Almudaina
A few skips from the cathedral will take you to the original palace of the Moorish governors. A confused mixture of Gothic and Islamic architecture doesn’t impede its lavish look and it also houses state apartments, which visiting bigwigs and the royal family use for digs when they drop by.
Museu de Mallorca
A bounty of plums from the past are on display here and while it’s worth popping by to scan the exhibits, the sprawling 17th century palace they’re housed in, is worth seeing alone. The collection is made up of a mishmash of archeological remains, from Talayotic figures to Moorish ceramics, plus a sweep of spiritual symbols, weapons and ornaments from the island’s first settlers.
The Banys Arabs
As the oldest surviving example of Moorish architecture in Palma, these 10th century Arab baths really take you back. Wander through the opulent domed chamber, which is supported by 12 sturdy pillars thought to have been swiped (some claim recycled) from other Roman buildings on the island, then mosey into the courtyard. Filled with cactus, palm, herb and orange trees, it would have been a cracking place to cool off after a soaking.
Avinguda Jaume III
The strip of shops down here doesn’t really hit the historical bill as they only date back to the 1940s, but with stores such as Mango and H&M offering prices lower than the UK and bumper department store El Corte Inglés stocked full of all sorts of chic cargo, it would be vulgar not to.
• Kim Smith travelled to Palma de Mallorca with Opodo (0871-277 0090; www.opodo.co.uk). City breaks to Palma de Mallorca start at £179.29, including return flights and two nights’ accommodation at Hotel Almudainia