Las puertas dejaban entrever... patios de ligeras columnas, la tradicional cisterna con armadura de hierro, la escalinata de caprichoso giro... Son palabras de Julio Verne, o mejor del narrador de su novela Clovis Dardentor, en la que los protagonistas realizan una auténtica ruta turística por Palma no exenta de aventura.
No debe extrañar que los patios de los grandes casales ciudadanos despertasen el interés del novelista, como despertaron el de los viajeros que visitaron Palma a finales del siglo XIX y principios del XX. Constituyen, los patios, un espacio arquitectónico único que singulariza al barrio antiguo de Palma.
La evolución del patio
El patio es un territorio situado a medio camino entre la calle y la casa, un ámbito de relación y comunicación con el vecindario y un elemento clave en la distribución de la actividad doméstica. Nacido del gótico primitivo catalán, incorporará, a partir del siglo XV, elementos que finalizan con su austeridad inicial: las escaleras se hacen más grandes y con barandales esculpidos. Hacia finales del XV i principios del XVI los patios recibirán influencias renacentistas como lo demuestran filacterias e inscripciones heráldicas.
El esquema básico de un patio gótico sería el siguiente::
Un portal exterior, de acceso, que comunica el patio con la calle
Un (pas d'entrada) zaguán cubierto entre el portal exterior y el patio descubierto.
Una escalera que conduce al piso noble de la casa que, en principio será sencilla, para luego incorporar un barandal esculpido.
La estética del Barroco irrumpirá en el siglo XVII e irá imponiéndose a medida que se amasan grandes fortunas al amparo del comercio y el corsarismo. La austeridad inicial cambiará en ostentación y el patio pasará a convertirse en un símbolo de la posición social de sus propietarios.
Así pues, sobre el esquema anterior, el barroco supondrá una serie de cambios::
Aumentan las dimensiones del portal exterior y del zaguán. El empedrado se hace menos basto e incorpora dibujos geométricos.
Se ponen de moda los llamados portalets d'estudi, puertas que dan acceso a despachos, bibliotecas y archivos de la casa.
Las columnas cambian el marès (piedra de arenisca) por el mármol. Los capiteles jónicos sostienen arcos apainelados.
La escalera aumenta sus dimensiones y el barandal pasa a ser de forja, normalmente con balaustres.
El acceso al piso noble de la casa se realiza a través de una logia o galería con balaustres.
En los siglos posteriores también se irán incorporando diversas corrientes estéticas, sobre todo el estilo neogótico del siglo XIX. Finalmente, en el siglo XX el modernismo iniciará la desaparición del patio descubierto con la cobertura del conjunto con claraboyas.
The evolution of the courtyard
The courtyard was an area half way between the street and the house, an environment of relations and communication with the neighbours and a key factor in the distribution of domestic activity. A direct descendant of the early Catalan Gothic style, from the 15th century on it was to incorporate features that would put an end to its initial austerity: the staircases would be grander with sculpted banisters. At the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th, the courtyards would receive Renaissance influences as the presence of scrolls and heraldic inscriptions demonstrates. The basic layout of a Gothic courtyard would be as follows:
An outer door, which led into the courtyard from the street.
A covered hallway (pas d'entrada) between the outer door and the open courtyard.
A staircase that led to the main floor of the house, and that was simple at the bottom but would have a sculpted banister further up.
The Baroque style burst onto the scene in the 17th century and would become increasingly well established as great fortunes were massed on the strength of trade and privateering. Initial austerity would give way to ostentation, and the courtyard would become a symbol of the social position of its owners. So, the Baroque brought about a series of changes in the original scheme of things:
The dimensions of the outer door and hallway increased. The cobbled floor became more refined and geometric patterns were introduced.
Portalets d'estudio, as they were known, became fashionable: these were doors that gave access to the offices, libraries and archives of the household.
The columns would change the marès (sandstone) for marble. Ionic capitals would support basket handle arches.
The staircase would increase in size and the banisters would be of wrought iron, normally with balusters
Access to the main floor of the house would be via a loggia or gallery with balustrade.
In later centuries various stylistic trends would come to be incorporated, especially the neo-Gothic style of the 19th century. Finally in the 20th century, the advent of Modernism meant the beginning of the disappearance of the open courtyard in favour of a roofed area with skylights.
Palma Patio walking tour
The "patios" in the Palma stately homes, from monumental beauty and lavish impressions, make up a unique architectural space where time stops and life appears, capable of atracting and surprising the eye of their visitors. The historic centres are architectural redoubts which bring to mind a refined and cultured Majorca with its own personality.
The "patios" of the Palma stately homes make up a unique architectural space, with its own, different aesthetics without which the old centre would lose its identity which characterises it. That is why Palma is above all a city of patios.
These semi-public places were marked by a social and even economic life. The Palma "patios", above all those which belonged to private families (Most of them), have today become inaccessible to pedestrians, this being the main sad thing that this century has given to the history of the patios. Some have railings that allow contemplation from the street and only those buildings that have been turned into museums, cultural foundations or diverse civic centres can be visited without restriction.
This is the reason that in this itinerary around the Stately Palma, we will only highlight those patios that can be visited or observed easily. This visit will take us to the small back streets with the highest historic lineage in Palma. The seats of noble families, properties of influential names within the Palma bourgeoisie where many of these small palaces from the XVI,XVII and XVIII centuries are still inhabited.
The Palma patios are a result of the evolution through the history which began in roman times, coming to a fore in the XIII century and reaching its peak in the XVII and XVIII centuries after reforming the main Palma stately homes of the era in the renaissance style of the that time.
Due to the darkness caused by the amount of narrow streets that the old part of the city of Palma de Majorca is famous for, the houses were built with an interior patio to function as a skylight and around it the whole house was erected. The house became an element of social prestige that showed the importance of each family and its social standing. One of the most important aspects of these patios is the stairway that increases the grandiose effect of the stately home.
The social role of the used to offer water and shade during the summers and shelter from the rain and a play area for the children and an open air discussion area for the adults. The "patios" played an important role in the social life in Palma, they were even used to announce an important event, if the gate was left ajar it meant that one of the residents had died, later the clothes and personal possessions of the deceased were auctioned off. This custom was maintained until the end of the XVIII century, as they were semi-public places that the neighbours used freely and without having to ask the owner permission. If on the other hand the gates were wide open and decorated with plants and flowers, it announced the birth of a child.