It’s easy to fall in love with the sundials on Mallorca. Not only because most of them are as simple as they are ingenious. Since they show the time only when the sun is shining, solar clocks remind you to focus on the good times. There are more than three hundred sundials in Palma alone, one for every sunny day on the island.
One of my favorites is located next to Palma’s Capitanía Marítima, the maritime customs building at Parc de la Mar. On first sight, it’s a plain round made of stone that many people pass without even noticing. But the real fancy part: it only tells the time when you pose as the hand. A plate at the bottom explains how it works.
The sun-drenched island has always been the perfect place for these amazing astronomical instruments. And a paradise for those interested in gnomonics. What sounds like the science of gnomes is actually the study of sundials. Miguel Ángel García Arrando, a contemporary expert in gnomonics, spent 30 years of research cataloguing almost one thousand sundials on Mallorca from different periods and styles.
Sometimes it’s just a simple rod casting the sun’s shadow on a plain dial, thus telling the local time. But it can also be a complex display of lines, figures and months or zodiac signs that requires some knowledge to read.