Majorca Cathedral, built between the 14th and 16th centuries, is the jewel in the crown of Majorcan Gothic architecture. It is also home to important works of art from different periods (Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and modern).
The cathedral, or Seu, is the most emblematic monument in Majorca because it is the perfect summary of the last eight centuries of its history. It dates back to the Christian conquest by Jaime I (1229), who, in keeping with the customs of the time, consecrated the ancient mosque to the Virgin Mary and prepared the construction of a completely new temple with the style of the time. It was built between the early 14th century and the late 16th century, when the façade was completed.
The most important elements on the outside include the Mirador portal, one of the masterpieces of the Gothic style in the whole world, which overlooks the sea. It was built between the end of the 14th century and the early 15th century. Among the workers were famed sculptors such as Pere de Sant Joan, Jean de Valencinnes and Rich Alamant, as well as some from Nordic countries, and also noted local masters such as Pere Morey and Guillem Sagrera. It is configured as a covered atrium, with sculptures of Saint Paul, Saint Andrew, Saint Peter, Saint John the Baptist and Saint James protruding from the doorjambs. The mullion is occupied by a Madonna and Child (a copy of the original that is now in the museum). The tympanum shows the Last Supper and the Heavenly Father with six worshipping angels. The three archivolts contain sculptures of the prophets and patriarchs and of musician angels. The top of the pediment is formed by quatrefoil arches, with the face of Christ the Saviour in the centre.
The main portal was built between 1594 and 1601 by sculptor Antoni Verger in Renaissance style. It is configured as a triumphal arch with a coffered vault. The doorjambs have sculptures of Saint Gregory, Saint Geronimo, Saint Ambrose and Saint Agustin, as well as Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist at the top. The tympanum has a sculpture of the Immaculate Conception surrounded by the symbols of the Marian litanies. It is important to mention that the current façade is of Neogothic style, from the 19th century, as projected by architect Joan Baptista Peyronnet, and it replaced the original from the 16th century. It is configured with four towers, a pediment with the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, and is topped with the Immaculate Conception. At mid-height there are four sculptures: Ramón Llull, Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Catherine Thomas.
The cathedral is rectangular and is divided into three naves with eight aisles each. The chancel is formed by the Royal Chapel and the raised Trinity chapel. The side aisles between the buttresses are occupied by chapels. The roof is configured with rib vaults supported on fourteen slender and impressively tall octagonal pillars. Like all Gothic cathedrals, it has extraordinary stained glass windows, especially the rose window of the apse, the largest in the Gothic world, which is formed by 24 coloured triangles and dates back from the 14th century.
The most important part of the inside is the oldest section, the raised Trinity chapel and the Royal Chapel, both from the early 14th century. This was the starting point for the Gothic cathedral that enjoyed its construction splendour during the 14th and 15th centuries. This time saw the construction of the choir stalls (early 16th century), the six angels on columns on the altar (15th century), the Virgen de la Grada (the oldest sculpture of the cathedral), the carving of the Dormition (late 15th century), the main Gothic altarpiece (early 15th century), which is now kept inside the Mirador portal, the Virgin sanctuary (14th century) that is kept on the Trinity chapel and several Gothic sepulchres of different bishops.
During the 17th-18th century, the inside of the building was greatly influenced by Baroque art, especially the altarpieces, paintings and sculptures. Some of the most emblematic works, such as the altarpiece of the Corpus Christi, by Jaume Blanquer, the cloister or the new chapterhouse are from this time.
In 1902 it became necessary to adapt the cathedral space to the new liturgical and pastoral needs, so bishop Pere Joan Campins commissioned architect Antoni Gaudí to refurbish the whole temple. Between 1904 and 1914 Gaudí worked to recover, arrange and decorate the space of the central nave and of the Royal Chapel, basically by transferring the choir, which up to then had been located between the second and third aisles of the nave, removing the main Gothic altarpiece, completing the baldachin of the high altar, incorporating it to the chancel of the episcopal see, adding more illumination to the space with glass windows that were non-existent until then, installing artificial lighting and chandeliers and manufacturing a wide range of liturgical furniture.
In order to continue the trend of ongoing update of the building, contemporary artist Miquel Barceló was invited to work on the chapel of the Holy Sacrament and focused on the subjected of the Eucharist (feeding the multitude). It was inaugurated in 2007.
The ‘sagristia dels vermells’ occupies the first body of the bell tower. It is a Gothic structure with a rib vault that leads into the Gothic chapterhouse and then the Baroque chapterhouse. These rooms are used for the chapterhouse museum, which includes important paintings, sculptures and goldsmith works from Gothic times to the 20th century.