Palma - The Rich Tapestry of Art and History

Prices from £1,360


23 Jan 2020 - 26 Jan 2020
Duration: 3 nights
Ref: 20MALL
With: Isabelle Kent


Prices from £1,360
Single Supplement: £230
Deposit: £200

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Rising from the azure waters of the Badia de Palma, the golden stone of Palma de Majorca beckons alluringly to expectant travellers. Today an elegant city with a sophisticated cultural scene, Palma has a rich history. Inhabited since the Bronze Age, Palma became an important ancient Roman port, a Moorish stronghold, and an independent mediaeval kingdom.

Under the warm, year-round sun, it’s not hard to see why artists, architects and designers flocked to the city in droves in the early 20th century; the distinctive Art Nouveau style developed by the Catalan Modernists during this period has particularly left its architectural mark. Artistic inspiration abounds, the white sails of the boats bobbing gently in the bay are echoed in the gleaming rooftop curves of the studio built by architect Josep Lluis Sert for his friend and fellow Catalan, Joan Miro in 1956. Inside the light-drenched studio, Miro’s surrealist works are propped on easels ready for the next brushstroke. The banker, Juan March also commissioned Sert to design the interior of his palace, with dramatic results. This modern symbol of wealth perches high above the city near the Gothic Royal Palace of Almundaina, once the centre of the medieval kingdom of Majorca and now the summer residence of the King of Spain.

Palma is a city that has always embraced modern art. In 1901, the Bishop of Mallorca engaged Antoni Gaudí to transform the altar of the city’s Gothic cathedral. More recently, the Mallorcan artist Miquel Barceló’s cave-like remodelling of St Peter’s Chapel offers a dramatic take on a biblical scene. Discover all of this and more in a new Art Pursuits Abroad tour, which revels in the rich tapestry of old and new, art and history, in this compact and elegant city.


Isabelle Kent is an art historian, writer and lecturer specialising in Spanish art. From 2017 to 2019 she worked as the Enriqueta Harris Frankfort Curatorial Assistant of Spanish Painting at the Wallace Collection. She lectures regularly for the V&A, the Art Fund and the Royal Academy, and also works as a freelance writer. Isabelle is currently editing a volume on Bartolomé Esteban Murillo in Britain. She received her BA in History of Art from Trinity College, University of Cambridge.


Afternoon flight from London Gatwick to Palma. A private coach will take us into the heart of Palma, where we will check in to our four star hotel. Afterwards, a light dinner in the hotel restaurant is the perfect way to acquaint yourself with your fellow travellers.


Our first full day in Palma is dedicated to the mediaeval history of the island. We begin at La Seu, the city’s splendid Gothic cathedral perched high above the harbour. The dramatic position and ornate exterior of the Cathedral is matched by a spectacular interior developed over several eras. Gothic buttresses soar above Gaudí’s dramatic altar canopy festooned with a twisting ironwork of wheat and vines, while Barceló’s 2007 chapel installation is a dark and atmospheric space for reflection. The Museum of Majorca, housed in a handsome 16th-century mansion, is an excellent place to discover the history of the island, with artefacts ranging from prehistory to Roman times, the mediaeval period to modernist. Remains from the Moorish period in Palma are rare, but nearby are the 10th-century Arab baths, an oasis of calm in the heart of the old city, set within a lush garden of wild flowers, orange trees and palms. The afternoon will be spent at the Royal Palace of Almudaina, which was built over Roman ruins and the Moorish Alcazar in a mainly Gothic style between the 13th and 14th centuries and enjoys wonderful views across the bay.


After breakfast, we set out on foot to explore the Catalan Modernist architecture of the city. Strolling through wide boulevards and elegant plaza, we will encounter shops, banks and mansions in the distinctive Modernist style. The morning is rounded off with a visit to the Juan March Foundation Museum, which has an excellent collection of Spanish art from the late 19th century to the present day. Catalan artists such as Antoni Tàpies and Pablo Picasso feature, as do works by contemporary Mallorcan artist, Miquel Barceló. In the afternoon we visit the Town Hall, where we will enjoy an exclusive chance to see beyond the 17th-century façade to the Arts and Crafts style Council Chambers inside. Palau March, designed by architect Luis Gutierrez Soto for the wealthy banker, Juan March in 1939, now houses an art collection amassed by the March family. The entrance courtyard, set high above the city, is adorned with sculptures by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Auguste Rodin’s bronze, Torse d'Homme qui tombe (1882). Inside, there are collections of Neapolitan figures, ancient manuscripts and books, as well as early navigation maps. In the evening we enjoy a farewell dinner together.


Joan Miró, one of Palma’s most famous artistic residents, settled on the island where his mother and wife were born in 1956. His studio was designed by Joseph Lluís Sert in the same year and was used by the artist until his death in 1983. Next to the studio is the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation, a beautiful, light-filled gallery built by Rafael Moneo in 1992, which displays collections of the artist’s work. Our next stop is the is the unusual Bellver Castle, built for King James II of Majorca in the 14th century. Constructed for strength and fortification, its shape is highly unusual: a circular structure with four towers at the four points of a compass. The castle’s coastal vantage point also offers sweeping views across Palma’s wide bay. There is time for one final visit before we depart. The striking Es Baluard is museum of modern and contemporary art, and with works by Gauguin, Picasso and Barceló, a fitting conclusion to this tour celebrating progressive Mallorcan tastes. We continue to Palma airport for our flight to London Gatwick.


Twin/double share: £1360 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £230
'No flights' price: £1260 per person
Deposit: £200 per person


  • Scheduled return flights (economy class) with British Airways London Gatwick to Palma
  • Private coach transfers and excursions
  • 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in the 4* Hotel Mama, Palma
  • 2 dinners, 1 lunches
  • Guided visits to sites listed in the programme
  • Services of a lecturer and tour manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes and gratuities for coach drivers and waiters


A luxury hotel located in the heart of the Old Town offering a rooftop pool with spectacular city views. The hotel hosts a large art collection and interior courtyard with palm trees.

  • Air conditioning
  • Flat screen TV
  • Minibar