The Historical Centre
The medieval walled city
The strategic location of the Villa d’Alcudia, highly acclaimed since the time of the Romans, posed a significant risk to its inhabitant’s safety, a typical concern for coastal towns at the time due to the relentless looting of pirates sailing in the vicinity. Like all medieval walled cities, Jaume II’s wall served a double purpose; to provide its population with a safe haven from the harsh natural elements and to serve as a defense shield against attacks from abroad.
Construction on the wall began in the early 1300s, and carried on throughout the 14th century. A polygonal structure reinforced with 26 towers distributed along a perimeter of 1.5 km with an average height of 6 metres, with the added security of a moat that can still be seen today, make up the medieval city walls and delimit the historic core of Alcúdia, declared Historic-Artistic Conservation Site in 1974, and the remains of the Roman city of Pol·lèntia.
Walled city gates
One of the greatest attractions of the medieval wall are the city gates. Originally there were three: "the door of Moll or Xara", "the door of Mallorca or Sant Sebastià" and "the door of the Vila Roja", which has not been preserved. The door of the Vila Roja was located in the northwestern corner of the medieval fortification. Due to the limited available information, little is known about this gate, although it seems that it was the weakest access and was besieged numerous times.
The gates were originally accessed by a wooden drawbridge. Later, in the 17th century, they were all replaced by stone bridges. According to a description by Archduke Luis Salvador of Austria, “The Vila Roja Gate is austere and simple; it shows only the vestiges of the drawbridge over the pit that is now replaced by a bridge ”. During the 20th century and up until 2004, the bridge was covered with grass. Now restored, you can see the original stone work and the moat, which has been excavated, has become a public space for outdoor activities, concerts or theatre productions, against the magical backdrop of the bridge.
The Puerta de Mallorca or Sant Sebastià connected the town of Alcúdia with the royal road to Palma. Restoration work run by G. Alomar in 1963 managed to preserve the moat and give it its present day look - two towers linked by a rounded archway crowned with battlements, and the city shield dating from the 16th century. The Puerta del Moll or Xara is located at the other end of the axis that divides the town into two halves, and opens it to the port. It has a very different structure to the other gate, with two towers joined by an archway with a small window. The large semicircular arched door gives access to a covered space and still conserves the gate and the mechanism that lowers it.
The Renaissance wall
In the 17th century the evolution of war and weapons technology made it necessary to construct a walled enclosure more suited to the needs of the city. The star-shaped path of low-rise bulwark was ideal for positioning artillery posts, while remaining protected from outside attack. This route ran alongside the first enclosure, leaving a space between them for the round road.
Of this second enclosure only the bastion of Sant Ferran and some remains of the bulwark of the king and the queen are still conserved today, within which the bullring was built. You can still appreciate the reinforcement cord in the structure, as well as a guard post.
Another important element of this first walled enclosure are the bastions, which, distributed along the perimeter, were built during the first half of the 16th century in order to provide more room for the new artillery. Currently two of these constructions are preserved, that of the Vila Roja and that of Xara.
Renaissance "Casals" of Alcúdia
There are numerous stately houses in the old town of Alcudia built in the Renaissance style and known locally as "casals". During the XVI-XVII centuries they underwent important transformations in order to adapt them to the stylistic canons of the time, a trend that especially affected their facades. During the War of Germania (1521-1523), the nobles of Ciutat (Palma) found refuge in Alcúdia, where they introduced humanist ideas that proved to be of great acceptance among the local aristocracy.
With these ideas the new stylistic language was introduced which would, from the moment, be applied to the works of the most important houses in the city. Most of the buildings have made it to the present day with only minor transformations. Thanks to this we can still admire examples like Can Castell; Can Fondo (Headquarters of the Historical Archive and exhibition hall); Can Canta (Can Barrera); Can Domenec (Headquarters of the Consortium of the Roman City of Pol·lèntia) or Can Costa (Can Sureda), among others.
The Church of Sant Jaume
The parish church is located next to the medieval wall, occupying the site of the primitive fourteenth century church and deeply linked to the history of Alcúdia. It was originally built as a fortification and in fact, its roof served as a look out while its structure forms part of the wall. In 1870, its dire state of deterioration caused part of the roof to collapse, rendering the church useless. The temple was later demolished and rebuilt in the neo-Gothic style in the same exact spot. The building works were completed in 1893.
The current church has one unique nave with chapels on the wings and a ribbed vault. The high altar is presided over by a neo-Gothic altarpiece, the work of L. Ferrer and M. Arcas, and dedicated to St. James. On the main facade, the tympanum houses a sculpture of St. James, by Remigia Caubet. A large rose window illuminates the interior of the temple, and above it, giving it its final touch, the city shield of Alcudia. The Parish Museum, where we are offered an interesting sample of religious art, completes the temple visit.
Built next to the church at the end of the 17th century, the chapel was erected to guard the image of the Sant Crist, a polychrome carving from the fifteenth century, attributed to the miraculous events that occurred in the year 1507. The chapel is baroque and can be accessed from inside the parish church. It has a domed ceiling and the shrine altarpiece at the front, also Baroque, which contains the carving of Sant Crist, accessed via two side stairs.