Restoration of the Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca (1903-1914)

Shortly after conquering the island of Mallorca (in 1230), Jaume I of Catalonia undertook the remodeling the former Muslim mosque of the island's capital into a church.

Construction continued until 1601, and resulted in a cathedral that is 120 m. long and 58 m. wide, with a maximum height of 44 m. in the central nave, the vaults of which are supported by slender octagonal columns that are 1.5 m. in diameter and 22 m. high.

In 1840, there were already thoughts of relocating the choir in the chancel and repairing the façade, severely damaged by the 1851 earthquake. The repair works began in 1852. Government assistance was requested, and Madrid designated the architect Peyronnet to direct the project.

In November 1899, the bishop of Mallorca, Pere Campins, visited Barcelona to ask the opinion of Antoni Gaudí about the ongoing restoration of the Mallorcan see. Campins was so greatly amazed by the clarity of Gaudí's ideas that two years later, in 1901, he proposed that Gaudí should take over the management of the restoration project.

Gaudí soon decided to spend a few days in Palma de Mallorca to take measurements and become acquainted with the building firsthand. After a few months, he presented a plan along with a wooden model to the bishop, who was probably still surprised by the architect's proposals.

Here is a summary of the primary changes that Gaudí made to the cathedral:

- The removal of the gothic choir stalls from the centre of the nave, and its relocation in the presbytery, around the high altar. In addition, Jujol added lively colors to the stalls that did not go over too well with the priests.

- The removal and recycling of the mudejar wooden candle gallery from the walls of the Capilla Real.

- Decoration of the presbytery with ceramic tiling, representing the crests of the bishops of Mallorca, surrounded by olive-tree branches, with inscriptions in Latin on the wall that surround the episcopal throne.

- Removal the baroque retablo (high altar) from the presbytery, that was moved the to the Church of Santa Catalina.

- Removal of the gothic retablo and reinstalled it at the Puerta del Mirador.

- Placing the high altar table in front of the uncovered episcopal throne, formerly hidden by the gothic and baroque retablos.

- Placing of a forged iron railing for the presbytery.

- Placing forged iron lamps and candelabras of various designs.

- Placing two canopies above the high altar.

- Building two galleries for cantors on each side of the presbytery, made up of plateresque elements.

- Relocation of the two pulpits on the two nearest columns from the high altar, one of which was never completed, and the canopy of the big one was later removed in January 1970.

- In addition, various chandeliers were installed in the entrance to the Capilla Real and in the aisles.

Two more important contributions that Gaudí made to the beautiful cathedral are the furniture and the stained-glass windows.

Among the furniture, the highlights include the bench for the officiants at the altar, a stool, a lectern and the beautiful folding stairway that allows access to the exposition of the Holy Sacrament.

In this cathedral, Gaudí used a new method for giving colour to the stained-glass windows, consisting of superimposing three glass sections in the primary colors (yellow, blue and red). His intention was to test the technique before implementing in the Sagrada Familia.
He also restored the rose windows and stained-glass windows that had been walled over.
During his stays in the island, Gaudí completed several other minor projects, including the restoration of the Chapel of San Bernardo, the design for the floor tiling in the parish church of Pollença and a general reform work on the Episcopal Palace itself.

Gaudí abandoned his work on the Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca in 1914 after an argument with the contractor over the pinnacles of the Puerta del Mirador. In time, the project was definitively cancelled upon the death of Bishop Campins in 1915.