Long before tourists conquered Mallorca, the island had been the target for piracy, raids and land seizures for many centuries. The castles on Mallorca witness this eventful history. Today, they are exciting destinations for the whole family. Most of them you can still visit. Some fully intact and well kept, others in ruins, sparking the imagination of battles that may have once taken place there. The prominently located castles are also landmarks for hikers and cyclists. A few however can only be found, if you know your way around.
1. Castell de Bellver
If you want to feel like a knight for one day, Castell de Bellver is a good place to start. Special not only due to its location high above Palma, with great views of the entire bay. The characteristic fortress with tower, moat and drawbridge is completely round. You can even climb onto the roof and walk a full circle. Or learn more about the history of Palma in the exhibition inside the castle. And the unique courtyard also makes for a spectacular backdrop for occasional concerts.
2. Castillo de San Carlos
Not far away, a star-shaped castle attracts visitors. Originally, the Castillo de San Carlos was built to protect the port of Palma, which was once located in Porto Pí. The grounds are as impressive as the views across the sea and up to the Tramuntana mountains. Walking along the massive walls, the perspective changes with every turn. Today, the fortress houses a military museum. And a café with a quite peaceful atmosphere.
3. Palacio Real de La Almudaina
The Almudaina Palace next to Palma’s Cathedral is still used by the King of Spain on official occasions. The name though derives from the Arabic and means fortress, thus revealing the origin of the characteristic building. If you are not on the guest list of the royal family, a guided tour will take you on a great journey through Mallorca’s history. The architecture of the Almudaina alone is definitely worth a visit.
4. Castell d’Alaró
In the very heart of Mallorca, Castell d’Alaró is an eldorado for hikers of all ages. Numerous legends entwine around the old fortress. Situated on the ridge of a flat mountain top with steep rock walls to all sides, the castle was once said to be one of the most difficult to conquer. Today, the hike up to the ruins is a rather easy one. And the terrace of the refugi with its great panoramic views the perfect place for an extended picnic.
5. Santuari de Sant Salvador
When visiting Artá, you will see the medieval fortress of Sant Salvador from below. Actually, it is not a castle but a sanctuary. A short walk from the center of the beautiful town takes you up to the battlemented complex. And with every step the view becomes more beautiful. Enjoy a coffee on the patio while the kids explore the area. On the surrounding wall they feel like knights defending a castle.
6. Castell de Capdepera
Nearby, the Castell de Capdepera embodies the knight’s castle maybe even more. Overlooking the Mediterranean and caressed by a gentle sea breeze you can imagine keeping watch for pirates. And ringing the bell when you discovered any. In the 16th century, the castle hosted 125 houses within its walls. Today, the well preserved complex is part of the cultural heritage of the island.
7. Castell de sa Punta de n’Amer
One of the lesser known castles on Mallorca is the Castell de sa Punta de n’Amer on the east coast. Located in a natural reserve between Cala Millor and Sa Coma, the fortified watch tower is a popular excursion from Sant Llorenc. A narrow path through pine forest and dunes leads you to the castle by the sea. To enter the tower and climb the roof you have to cross the drawbridge over the moat. After the visit, the cafe next door with its large terrace is a nice place to take a break.
8. Castell de Santueri
The Castell de Santueri sits on a table mountain near Felanitx. One of the rock castles on Mallorca, it was built by the Romans, fortified by the Arabs and conquered by King Jaume I in a battle that lasted more than a year. Although most of the castell is now in ruins, the impressive grounds are definitely worth a visit. You can walk around the entire hilltop fortress, with spectacular views of the neighboring monastery of Sant Salvador and the Serra de Llevant.
9. Castell del Rei
Last but not least there is the Castell del Rei, the King’s Castle, near Pollença. Perfectly camouflaged and tucked away on a private finca that only allows a very limited number of visitors on guided tours. At the northernmost outpost, almost 500 meters above sea level, the castle is enthroned on a cliff. It cannot be visited as it is a sanctuary for the rare black vulture. But even from a reasonable distance, the sight is simply spectacular.