On February 2, 2017 we visited the Palace of the Kings of Majorca (Palais des Rois de Majorque) is a fortified Gothic-style palace in the heart of Perpignan. There are not one, but two chapels, one above the other: the lower is the Queen’s Chapel, while the upper is Holy Cross whose pink marble door has sadly been replaced.
The architecture of the site is stunning. The walls were built with uncut stone and brick, mortared together. The door frames, hallways, stairways and the main tower are all built of cut stone. There is ochre from Les Fonts, baixas blue, sandstone and red marble from Villefranche-de-Conflent, and white and blue marble from Ceret.
Though no longer furnished, the Queen’s apartment, the King’s quarters, the great hall, are still stunning. The great hall has an enormous fireplace that takes up nearly all of one wall of the room, though considering the space it had to heat, I can’t imagine that the people of the opposite end of the room felt the heat from any fire within.
The most amazing was the double chapels. The Queen’s chapel on the lower level, was small and lovely. The marble stairs leading inside were worn to a undulating unevenness from centuries of use. Where an altar once stood there were beautiful mosaic floor tiles and into the wall near the corner a now-deconsecrated tabernacle made of blue and white marble from Ceret.
In comparison, Holy Cross (the upper level church) was just as lovely, though much lighter with its stained glass windows and larger size. The ceiling was the real beauty though, the faded paint in indigo blue with gold stars shows how beautiful this chapel has always been.
In a side room near the Queen’s apartment there was a video playing on three of the four walls that showed the progression of changes through the ages. Just a short 15-minute presentation — in French, of course — took us from the original build start date to the present day restorations, a unique way to see history.
Some of the favorites of the day were the bronze bells from the bell tower on display near the gift store, the closed portcullis and the beautiful painted beamed ceiling of the entryway.
Getting up to the palace was also quite interesting as you must walk through the old barbican from the street access gate, imagining the entire way how fun it must have been to do this before it was paved or worse, as an approaching enemy!
Well worth a visit if you’re in the area, and since it doesn’t take long to visit the site, plan to include a museum or two as well to round out the day. We opted for a visit to the Church of Jean Bapiste because the niece fell in love with the iron work bell tower when she viewed it from the palace gardens.
We always love to see the interior of churches, seeing as so much of them contain beautiful works of art, so we wandered on over and took a look through the church. In one of the small chapels, there was a more modern fresco of the city of Perpignan in the days when the palace was still in use. A nice way to round out our micro-adventure for sure!
We ended the day with a trip for shawarma, at Star Kebab, our favorite place in Perpignan!