Die Balearen, geshildert in Wort und Bild (1869-1884) > Architecture > Convents in Palma (II). Santa Teresa, Santa Magdalena, Ses Caputxines and La Concepció

Convents in Palma (II). Santa Teresa, Santa Magdalena, Ses Caputxines and La Concepció

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"Santa Teresa convent is amongst the most modern in Palma. The venerated Sister Elionor Ortiz lived with her brother, Galcerán Ortiz, in a family house on the Rambla. She was a tertiary Carmelite nun and, in 1613, she decided to leave her home to found the Barefoot Carmelite convent.

In 1614 the Bishop consecrated the small church dedicated to Saint Teresa of Jesus (Ávila), believing that this was the first church in Christianity dedicated to this saint.

In Santa Teresa convent you climb up some short, easy stairs with balustrades to the cloister which is somewhat higher. It’s rectangular in shape with five arches on the short side and six on the long one. They are diminished arches, with the stations of the Via Crucis painted on them in red. In the center is a small garden with a pergola supported on octagonal columns. The garden has rose bushes and large orange trees. There are small Baroque reredos in the corners. A very comfortable staircase leads to the garden where, next to some very large fig trees, there is an hermitage with a transept dome and little angels on the sides.

A staircase with wooden handrail easily climbs to the transept which is to the right of the simple choir. It’s lit by rosettes and covered by tiles on the front part. Paintings of scant value hang on the choir’s walls. At the end of the corridor is the chapter house with a double transept ceiling. It also serves as a second choir and features a painting of Santa Teresa. Around the room are sandstone benches with tiles.

Santa Magdalena convent dates from the 16th century. Some scholars argue that it was a hospice before that, founded by brave captains during the conquest of Mallorca. To the right of the entrance is the “parlador” (locutory) where the nuns go to talk with their visitors. From the entrance you also access the choir with beautiful columns, consisting of alternating round smooth shafts and other Salomonic columns. There are nine of each type on each of the long sides of the patio. The columns support semi-diminished arches. In the top part of the cloister, there is an eave supported on octagonal columns. In one corner, near the door, we can see the date, 1542. There is a carefully tendered garden in the central patio, with two palm trees and an old orange tree, the latter planted by the Blessed one, according to tradition. Not far is the “font de la Beata” fountain, covered in climbing plants, and the “pou de sa clastra” (cloister well). In the center is a cistern called “sa font gran”. The chapter house is in the right wing of the building and features a coffered ceiling, tile floor and a diminished arch in the center. It also includes a very beautiful painting in the middle of Santa Magdalena with long blond hair. To the sides are six small paintings with scenes from the saint’s life, all painted over a gold background.

In front of the refectory door is a very steep staircase with heavily rotted steps which already existed in this state during the time of the Blessed Catalina Thomàs. To the right is a well-worn handle from the same time period. This staircase takes you to the upper portico with handrail and octagonal columns holding up the eave. The devil threw the Blessed down the stairs from this very spot. The step where the encounter occurred is slightly higher up than the floor made of red tiles from Trispol. The door to the staircase is precisely in front of the Blessed one’s cell. It still includes her vows from 1555 and the hat and dress she was wearing upon entering the convent. These are made of normal cloth. There are also other belongings. The cell also includes a cross, two watercolors on cloth representing Santa Catalina and Santa Magdalena. There is also the box where the Blessed stored her things and a stone from the small choir on which she would kneel. It is well-worn from the scrape of her knees. Lastly, there are eight paintings representing her miracles.

After crossing two small choirs, we reach the large, well-lit one, with green floor tiles and stones underneath and the wall facing the church lined in tiles. The ceiling is Gothic, with twisted ribs simply crossing above. To the two sides are tall rounded arches. In the retrochoir are some old choir seats. The Blessed would sit on the first one to the right. Above, in the porch, is the room for the priest when he came to hear the nuns’ confession. From here is a pretty view of the cloister and the Rambla. Up a spiral staircase you climb to the church porch with a view of the city around the convent. It is a very beautiful panoramic view. The two side towers, the one on the left serving as the bell tower, have benches along with two small balconies surrounded by wood trellises. Next to the choir is the elongated and simple room called the “costura de les novícies” through which you reach the narrow patio on Carrer de Sant Jaume street and, after some steps to Carrer del Noviciat.

The Capuchin convent dates from the 17th century. In the entrance is the door to the small rectangular cloister with three arches on the short side and five on the long one. There are four entrances on the sides, four orange trees and a fountain in the center. In front of the main portal is the very simple and poor chapter house.

Towards the back of the garden is the fairly elevated waterwheel and the “terradet de sa font”, with a fountain in the middle and from which we can see the small Sa Bugada cloister. Above the low walls and, we could say, everywhere, are innumerable flowering plants in pots. Through this “terradet” we can access the “dormitori” and its 27 cells. They are all the same and separated by partial walls which don’t reach the ceiling. A thick cloth closes off the entrance. Climbing a few steps we come to the “llibreria” library in the “antecor” where there are portraits of seven monks and two priests. There is also a beautiful Saint Anthony in this room with some angels holding him up. Next comes the very poor choir with a simple vault ceiling.

The Concepció convent had its origin in the Nostra Senyora convent in Pollença. The Bishop of Mallorca, Diego de Arnedo, bearing in mind the latter’s isolation and frequent incursions by Berber pirates along that coast, had the religious order moved from Pollença to Palma in 1564. They were provisionally installed in the Hospital de Sant Antoni until 1577 when they moved to the current Concepció convent on the street with the same name, though previously called Sitjar.

Upon entering the Concepció convent, we find a cloister with nine arches supported on rounded columns alternating with Salomonic ones and rounded and square capitals. The patio is very beautiful with its lemon trees, other plants and domed cistern. The garden squares are surrounded by terracotta bricks. To the right of the entrance is a small diminished arch with angels supporting the Safortesa family coat of arms. A bit farther is the old entrance to the Safortesas’ home which was included in the convent. The ceiling beams are richly carved, and one side is painted with mocarabe (stalactite work) and shields. At the end of the corridor is the chapter house and, to the right, a wood image of Santa Margalida with the wheel from the old convent by the same name. The chapter house is very simple and decorated with various paintings and a cross. To the right is the urn for Sister Catalina Thomàs, deceased in 1735, and, above, the archive shelves. To the right of this room is the old sacristy with very simple architecture. Continuing down the corridor we come to the refectory. Over the door’s lintel is an angel using its wings to protect the recently built Puig Convent in Pollença. The refectory is very large and, before being used as such, was the Safortesa house’s bodega (“es celler de ca’n Fortesa”).

An old part of the city wall is in the garden, with exuberant prickly pears and an infinity of grasses growing on top. Only legumes are grown in the garden, though there are also a pair of old olive trees. On the old wall (“murada vella”) we can still see the ruins of an old building with its whitewashed walls, the holes in which the beams were supported and side wall blocks. The convent looks very picturesque from this spot, with its balconies and small windows.

We return to the cloister. From the spot where you can enter the garden (“hort”) is the “pasteres” where the nuns, not even twenty years ago, still prepared their delicious “quartos” and other pastries, just as nuns do in other convents. This place is called the “botiga”. To the right of the portal, next to a figure of Christ, is another staircase with two sections which takes you to the corridor with the nuns’ cells and a terrace over the cloister’s portico.

Three staircase sections take you to the top floor from whose balcony facing the old “murada” wall is a view of Bellver Castle and the Na Burguesa mountain range. The rooftop offers a charming panoramic view of the city and port."

Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria. Las Baleares por la palabra y el grabado. Majorca: City of Palma. Ed. Sa Nostra, Caja de Baleares. Palma de Mallorca. 1982.


English translations and the structure of all summarized information is under:
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