The Port of Palma is the capital of the Balearic Islands and an autonomous community on the Spain’s western Mediterranean shores. It rests in the center of the large Palma Bay on the southwestern coast of the island of Majorca. Being Majorca’s main city and seaport, it is still called Ciutat de Mallorca (city of Majorca) by its residents. Almost half of the island’s people live in the Port of Palma. The Spanish royal family spends its summer holidays in Palma at the Marivent Palace. In 2007, 383 thousand people lived in the city, and over 517 thousand lived in the metropolitan area, making it the 12th largest urban area in Spain.
The Port of Palma has a diverse economy. Its most important industries are tourism, commerce, and manufacturing of fabrics, shoes, and foodstuffs. In the latter half of the 20th Century, Palma became a popular vacation spot, and the population grew rapidly. Urban development, complete with luxury hotels and tourist-oriented attractions, expanded the city’s borders quickly. The Port of Palma is home to many artisans who produce beautiful embroidery, glasswork, pottery, ironwork, baskets, and olive woodcarvings. It has frequent connections by air and sea with Barcelona and Valencia.
The Romans conquered the island of Majorca in 123 BC, and they built their camps on the remains of an ancient Talaiotic settlement. The archipelago was incorporated into the Roman province of Tarraconensis, and the Romans founded the city of Palma (called Palmaria). The Port of Palma was the Romans’ gateway to ports in Africa, Carthage, and Hispania.
It was attacked by the Vandals as Rome grew weak, and the Byzantine Empire absorbed it in the 6th Century AD. It fell to the Moors in the 8th Century, and they held it for four hundred years until James I of Aragon conquered the island in 1229. During the rule of the Moors, the Port of Palma’s economy thrived on enterprise and piracy. After 707 AD, Christians inhabited the city, declaring allegiance to the Caliphate and enjoying considerable autonomy.
Vikings began to attack the city in 848, and they sacked the island. The Caliph reasserted his rule, and the islands were incorporated into the Islamic state of Cordoba, despite continued onslaughts by the Vikings. Being part of the Islamic state benefited the city, as commerce and manufacturing developed rapidly. The port became increasingly important to the Arab rulers.
Late in 1229, James I of Aragon captured the city and renamed it Palma de Mallorca. The Port of Palma continued to be the capital of the islands. When James I died, the Port of Palma became independent, but Peter IV of Aragon re-incorporated it into the empire during the 14th Century. In 1469, when Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile married, the Port of La Palma became part of the Spanish monarchy. The Port of Palma thrived for many years.
In the early 16th Century, rebellion against the Spanish king and frequent attacks by pirates forced a reduction in the traffic passing through the Port of Palma. The city entered an economic decline that lasted through the end of the 17th Century. The 17th Century brought struggles for power within the city, and it became a haven for pirates and privateers. At the end of the century, the Inquisition brought persecutions of local Jews.
At the end of the Spanish War of Succession and the fall of the Aragon crown in 1714, Phillip V of Spain changed the city’s government structure, naming it Palma, and placed restrictions on trade through the port. In the late 18th Century, Charles III of Spain removed trade restrictions with the Americas, the Port of Palma once again became a busy commercial center.
In the early 19th Century, the Port of Palma became the destination for refugees from Napoleon’s troops and wars. In 1833, Palma became the capital of the Balearic Islands. When the French occupied Algeria, pirate attacks ended and new prosperity and population growth blessed Palma.
Since the middle of the 20th Century, the Port of Palma has changed dramatically with the arrival of armies of tourists from mainland Spain and Europe who brought tremendous cultural and social change. The Port of Palma grew fast after 1950. In 1960, about 500 thousand visitors came to the city. In 2001, mover 19.2 million people passed through Palma’s airport.
The 21st Century has brought significant urban re-development and new immigrants from outside the European Union to help build the new city. Today, the Port of Palma boasts many beautiful buildings, graceful promenades, and lush gardens that stretch along the coast for 11 kilometers.
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