Bellver Castle stands about three kilometres from the city centre of Palma, on a hill some 112 metres above sea level. It overlooks the city of Palma, its bay and a large part of southwest Majorca.
Its construction began in 1300, commissioned by Jaume II, King of Majorca. Work on the building took nine years and the ornamentation was finished later. 70 permanently employed workmen, a large number of women and the king’s slaves all worked on it.
The castle was designed as a royal residence. All the three kings of Majorca stayed there for short periods of time: Jaume II, Sanc I and Jaume III. At the end of the 14th century, Joan I of Aragon and his wife Violant of Bar lived there for four months with their court, fleeing the plague in mainland Spain.
After the Kingdom of Majorca’s fall in 1343, Bellver castle was used as a prison in several occasions.In 1821, the castle was temporarily used as a mint. Its last period as a prison was during and after the Spanish Civil War, when up to 800 Republican prisoners were kept inside.
The construction is arranged around a central courtyard, on two levels, the ground floor with semicircular arches and flat roofs and the upper one with Gothic arches and the ribbed vault so typical of Gothic architecture.
In 1931 the Government gave the building and the woods to Palma City Council who turned it into the Palma History Museum and the Despuig Collection of Classical Sculpture.