The area of Santa Catalina on the west side of the city of Palma has witnessed a remarkable transformation in recent years. Once a fairly shabby, run down area, Santa Catalina (sometimes referred to as 'The Soho of Mallorca') is now 'the' place to see and be seen in the capital. So popular has the area now become that demand for property here (typically a modernised apartment or townhouse) has skyrocketed in recent years.
With many typical brightly-painted houses for sale, comprising one or two stories complete with flowerpot-covered balconies and windows fronted by traditional Mallorcan wooden shutters, this is cool urban living at its best. And it's no surprise that it's such a highly desirable area in which to own a property when you take into account that Santa Catalina is literally buzzing with trendy restaurants, arty bars, chic shops and stylish boutiques.
Santa Catalina is certainly not a huge area, but what it lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in appeal. Situated to the west side of Avenue Argentina near to Es Baluard, Palma's major contemporary art gallery, Santa Catalina proclaims its 'alternative' credentials with jaunty confidence.
It's a very cosmopolitan area where 'yachties' mix with locals, foreign residents and tourists from all over the world. The modern Teatre Mar i Terra provides a good example of Santa Catalina's arty appeal. But if you want to enjoy perhaps the finest views overlooking Palma and the bay while sipping a cocktail watching the sun go down, don't miss the lovely open-air Sky Bar at Santa Catalina's Hotel Hostal Cuba.
The throbbing heart of Santa Catalina is undoubtedly its popular indoor market. Open six days a week, the market stalls offer the freshest produce the island has to offer. Supplying local residents, restaurants and cafes (as well as the yachting crowd), it contributes to the area's reputation as a great place to enjoy a meal.
Freshly-caught fish and seafood, sun-kissed fruit, flowers and vegetables, quality meat from local producers, cheeses, delicious pastries, Mallorcan and international wines...Santa Catalina market, as you can imagine, is highly popular with the local community.
Why not pop into the market on a weekday and take in the sights, sounds and smells - it's so addictive! Then sit at one of the little market stalls and enjoy some fresh tapas with a glass of wine for lunch.
But it's not just the market. Take a relaxing stroll around Santa Catalina's tranquil streets (some pedestrianized) and you'll discover a wonderful selection of places to eat. Italian, Peruvian/Japanese fusion, Vietnamese, traditional French, American diners, Thai, Indian, Lebanese, Colombian, vegetarian and vegan...the choice of restaurants is mind-blowing!
Probably the best idea is not to plan where to eat in Santa Catalina, just to have a look around at the amazing choice on offer - anything from simple cafes and bars to upmarket restaurants, many offering a good value 'menu del dia'.
The area was originally named after a former hospital founded in 1343 and dedicated to the patron saint of merchants and sailors, Santa Catalina of Alexandria. According to local folklore, a wealthy Mallorcan merchant called Ramon Salelles promised the patron saint he would build a hospital for the old sailors if he survived his sea voyages.
It's no surprise that Santa Catalina, being close to the sea, was for many years the home of local fishermen. Flour milling and bread making were also popular here, as evidenced by the remains of 18th-century windmills which can still be seen today.
Following the Christian reconquest of Mallorca, the Santa Catalina area belonged to the feudal Bishop of Barcelona, a realm that also included Es Jonquet, Banyalbufar, Sant Jordi, Andratx, Calvia, Esporles, and Puigpunyent. The area remained under the bishop's jurisdiction right up until 1811 when it was abolished by the courts of Cadiz.
Santa Catalina was always independent from Palma, both geographically and politically, and this remained the case until 1902 when General Weyler authorised the demolition of the city walls, thus removing the physical barrier between Santa Catalina and the capital city. With the demolition of the Santa Catalina Gate in 1914, Santa Catalina finally became a part of greater Palma.
However, long traditions die hard, and because of this long history of independence from Palma, Santa Catalina has always maintained its own personality as evidenced today by the area's buzzing cosmopolitan feel.
At Balearic Properties we would be delighted to help you find your dream home for sale in Mallorca. If you would like any information or advice please feel free to contact one of our friendly, helpful property professionals. Or simply give us a call on +34 971 53 22 21
Formally home to fishermen and ropemakers, this Palma district has been discovered by a certain BoHo chic scene and has become one of the Palma "districts to live". Once reformed the charming, traditional town houses are fetching amazing prices and demand is slowly outstripping supply! Trendy Santa Catalina has become the meeting place restaurants offer cuisine from all continents, here you have the world on a plate.
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