Perpignan Palace of Kings of Majorca visitor guide

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The Palace of the Kings of Majorca (Palais des Rois de Majorque) is a palace and fortress on the edge of the old town of Perpignan, to the east of the Pyrénées-Orientales department in the south of France.

Explore the Palace of the Kings of Majorca in Perpignan

France This Way review: the palace is an imposing historic monument, very well restored and with several unusual characteristics, and a visit is interesting because of its history although the rooms are unfurnished so a visit does not take long - we prefer to see funiture, paintings, tapestries and arms in a palace-fortress!

The oldest part of the palace was built towards the end of the 13th century, for King Jacques II of Majorca and his entourage.

The King had inherited the Montpellier and Roussillon regions from his father, King Jacques I, as well as the Balearic islands including Majorca and ownership of Barcelona was shared with his brother (who also controlled Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia).

Statues in the facade of the Palace of the Kings of Majorca

The area grew and flourished under the control of the two brothers - in particular based on the cloth industry - and the palace of the Kings was just one of many luxury buildings they built in the region, and it was a time of great riches for Perpignan.

The kingdom survived until 1349, when struggles within the family caused the break-up of the kingdom, and Perpignan and Montpeller were incoporated into France. The Kings retaned ownership of the palace.

During the 15th and 16th centuries the area was subject to many disputes, especially during the wars between France and Spain, and the fortress was besieged many times, as well as the red brick walls beng reinforced.

The treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 finally settled the disputes between the two countries, after whch Perpgnan was definitevely incorporated into France. The French military engineer Vauban further reinforced the walls at this time.

The history of the palace is not always obvious when you visit, because of the various stages that the walls were built and reinforced. From the walls of the fortrss you have extensive views across Perpignan and the surrounding countryside, which is one of the highlghts of your visit.


Architecture and layout of the Palace of the Kings

The palace is built in the gothic style that we more commonly associate with religious monuments, with the principal buildings placed around the edges of three large square courtyards. Many of the buildings have balcones and arches, which give the palace a rather Spanish-Arab appearance.

The principal buildings include the public rooms where state events were held and meetings took place, the private rooms of the palace, and a chapel.

Although it is the red brick that gives the buildings their overall appearance, there are also various sections built in stone such as the stairways and the main towers. The west doorway into the chapel, with roman style arches, is built with successive arches of marble.

Note: the red brick was originally coated with lime mortar, so the appearance of the palace today, while very attractive, is also very different to its original appearance.

Inside the palace walls you can see the gardens of the palace - in the 15th century exotic animals such as ostriches, bears and lions were kept here, and visitors could pay to see them.

State hall in the Palace of the Kings of Majorca in Perpignan

Attractions nearby

See the Perpignan guide for other places of interest in the town.

See more castles in France. You can find more travel ideas in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques guide and the Languedoc-Roussillon guide.

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The French version of this page is at Perpignan Palace of Kings of Majorca (Francais)