|Palma de Mallorca, known amongst Mallorcans as
'Ciutat', is the capital of the largest Balearic island, Mallorca (or
Majorca). It is important not to confuse the name of the capital with that
of the island, as this is something that does not go down too well with
the inhabitants of the isle's other towns. From the point of view of
tourism and leisure, the city can be divided into distinct zones: Casco
Antiguo, (the old quarter), Avenidas, Sa Llonja, Paseo Marítimo, (the sea
front), Es Jonquet, Gomila, El Molinar, S'Arenal and Génova.
The Casco Antiguo is where to see the tourist attractions. The Cathedral, Palacio de l'Almudaina, the Ayuntamiento (town hall), The Consell Insular (Local Authority) and the churches deeply rooted in the religious culture of the people, as well as local history museums which you stumble upon in the narrow streets and stone corners. This area is liberally sprinkled with places serving traditional Mallorcan cuisine, and a few shopping streets, such as San Miguel or Via Sindicato, and these make it an absolute must for those visitors who want to learn something of the city's history.
Las Avenidas (The Avenues), the nickname for the 5 main routes that run through the city from the Paseo Maritimo, is the hub of the city's shopping area. Department stores, bank headquarters, fashion shops, cinemas, offices and cafes contribute to the bustling urban atmosphere of this area. It's here that you find Plaza de España, the departure point for the majority of private and public transport. In front of the square you can find the recently inaugurated Parque de las Estaciones, a project that aims to become the ecological 'lungs' of the city.
Sa Llonja is the most typical area for nightlife for young people in the city. Around the Sa Llonja monument Consulado del Mar, restaurants and bars abound. From atmospheric bars with fresh flowers and fruits and classical music to the typical pubs. Nearby in the Muelle Viejo, the very young gather on weekend nights to indulge in what is known as a 'bottelón'. This basically consists of parking the car, putting the music on full volume and gathering round an open boot with friends and a bottle of some alcholic drink.
The Paseo Maritimo mixes enthusiasts of the sea with tourists who stay in one or other of the hotels located in this area and enjoys one of the best views in the city. Around here there are plenty of cafes, rental agencies, restaurants and entertainment stops, and in particular Palma's most important nightclubs: Tito's, and Pachá. The Paseo Maritimo is completed by the Auditorium and also a special lane for cycling, skating and running which gets quite busy during the evenings and weekends.
Es Jonquet is another important place in Palma nightlife. In these streets there are plenty of 'pa amb oli' restaurants (a typical dish of dark bread, oil, salt and tomato accompanied by ham, cheese, etc.) as well as a few bars.
For many years the Plaza Gomila was the haunt of intellectuals and artists of the time. Gomila is characterized by its attraction of a gay crowd, who claimed their own area, as in all modern cities. Discos, bars with shows, hotels and saunas populate this little area of freedom. At the entrance to the neighbourhood there is a detour that leads to Castillo de Bellver, which is an emblematic image of the Balearic community.
El Moliner is an old fishing neighbourhood, right on the seafront, that is now an upcoming area of the city. However, it's still a calm and peaceful neighbourhood, ideal for a stroll or an aperitif on a Sunday morning. S'Arenal and C'an Pastilla are the tourist areas of Palma. Here Germans and elderly holidaymakers rub shoulders in bars and restaurants where they only speak German. In Balneario 6 it's quite likely that you won't be understood if you don't speak German.
Genova finishes our tour of the city of Palma in a popular area of restaurants specializing in local cuisine. Pa amb oli (bread with oil), snails, stuffed aubergines, frito (fried pig offal with onions and peppers) or Mallorcan soup are some of the dishes that you can enjoy in any of the 10 or so restaurants that have sprung up in this area.
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