It is silent up here, the sounds of the streets seem far away. All you hear are the cries of seagulls and the wind tearing around lime stone pillars and arches. It is not only the vistas that are breathtaking but the unique sensation of being at the place where sky meets heaven. From the roof terraces of La Seu, Mallorca’s cathedral, Palma looks like a colorful patchwork rug lined with a wide stripe of blue.
In awe you stroll under the flying buttresses, the characteristic stone arches. They used to be out of reach, now you can respectfully touch them. See up close how the humid, salty air damages the soft stone. And detect the work of the masons who have mended and repaired over the centuries, and still do. My favorite elements are the fierce gargoyles, watching grimly from above as if to attack any minute. The waterspouts are often imaginary beasts, meant to protect the cathedral and the people of Palma.
On the east terrace you meet La Seu’s famous rose window at eye level. With more than 11 meters in diameter the Gothic Eye is one of the largest worldwide, its over one thousand original glass elements priceless. Twice a year, on February 2 and November 11, the rose window aligns with the sun for a spectacular light show. Called El Espectáculo del Ocho because of the colorful 8 that appears on the opposite wall above the entrance.
The way to the rooftop leads along a narrow spiral staircase of 215 steps. You pass historic graffiti of early refugees and tiny lookouts that allow first vistas from within. In the bell tower you get a glimpse of Eloi. The largest of the cathedral’s nine bells is the only one still rung by man. Actually you need nine to eleven men to move its 4.500 kg. Because the wooden structure of the bell tower is endangered by the momentum Eloi only rings on rare occasions. When the pope or bishop died, when a new pope was elected, and once a year on Corpus Christi.
For centuries the roof terraces of La Seu have been unaccessible, dark, insecure and littered. Just a few years ago they were cleaned up and opened to the public. From May till October you can register online now for a guided one-hour-tour. Allowing a fabulous overview of the cathedral’s eventful history and architecture as well as Palma’s vibrant presence.