TO DO | MUSEUM
When in Perpignan, the Palace of the Kings of Majorca deserves a visit. Dating from the time when Perpignan was the mainland capital of the Kingdom of Majorca, the palace breathes history. From the French to the Spanish rulers, and back again, they all left their mark on its, initially, gothic architecture.
The first King of Majorca, King Jaime II, inherited his kingdom and decided to build a royal palace around 1274 to host his court. Before I entered the actual palace via a beautifully covered ramp, the statue of Père Pigne welcomed me. Legend has it that this shepherd from Capcir founded Perpignan when he came to the region more than a thousand years ago. A bit further down, I arrived at a viewpoint with a few bronze statues. They appeared to be made by the famous French sculpture Maillol, who was born and died in the nearby Banyuls-sur-Mer.
As Perpignan was a prosperous town during the Middle Ages, the royal palace needed protection and was built as a fortress. To enter the Palais des Rois de Majorque, you have to cross a drawbridge. After that, in the small courtyard called “Barbacane”, six soldiers permanently stood guard to keep unwelcome visitors out. It was only in the 16th century when the palace was surrounded by a wall, that the site was transformed into an actual citadel.
Tour de l’Hommage
Once inside, via the Tour de l’Hommage, I bought my entrance ticket. As I didn’t join the guided tour, I took a short guide with a description of the palace’s history in English. The palace isn’t very big and is very accessible. The central courtyard, flanked by the throne room, chapel, royal chambers, dining rooms and galleries impressed me. To get a better view of the palace and its surroundings, I climbed the Tour de l’Hommage. From the top I got a magnificent view of the palace, as well as of Perpignan and the snowy summit of Mont Canigou.
Compared to the realms of neighbouring France and Aragon, the Kingdom of Majorca was only a small one. Still, Le Palais des Rois de Majorque was a luxurious palace, where the King and his family lived comfortably on the first floor. The King resided on the Northside, while the Queen inhabited the Southside. I didn’t mind that the palace was shown rather soberly, without furniture or tapestries on the walls. It let the place speak for itself, including the beautiful decorations like painted ceilings, ornate pillars and leaded glass windows that have all stood the test of time.