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Los Banos Arabes, Palma de Mallorca


Most people who go to Mallorca only see two parts of the island - the airport and the resort to which they are heading. If that resort is west of Palma, the island's capital, then they may view the capital's imposing cathedral from the bus window en route to the resort. But in the maze of cobbled streets behind the cathedral is one of Palma's best kept secrets - the small garden of 'Los Banos Arabes'. Although I have visited the garden many times, each time I go I almost stumble across it by accident. The interlocking streets and signs that could point a number of ways ensure that when you finally arrive, the surprise is even more welcome.

'Los Banos Arabes' or 'The Arab Baths' is one of the few remnants of the Moorish settlers, and date from the tenth century AD. The building itself is a small domed room supported by pillars with capitals plundered from earlier Roman buildings on the site.


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Plan of Los Banos Arabes showing the bath house. The garden starts outside the wall in the lower right hand part of the photograph.

Looking out to the gardens through the Moorish doorway of the domed bath house.

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Outside the baths, the small formal garden, lined with limestone pillars and dominated by a huge palm, is an oasis in the middle of the surrounding buildings. Beds surrounded by low clipped hedging hold a range of annual and perennial plants, while in a corner jasmine clothes a pergola and ensures welcome scented shade from the midday sun. Visit in April when the foliage is at its freshest and the smell of orange blossom is everywhere. This is the place to spend an hour away from the vibrant bustling life of Palma, to relax and savour a small, simple and well-designed garden.



A formal arrangement of pots lines the wall outside the baths.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

An avenue of pillars surmounted by stone and terracotta pots bisects the garden and leads the eye to a stone bench. The pillars are all different and this adds to the appeal of the garden.



Looking towards the centre of the garden from the side of the bath house, with the trunk of the massive palm visible left of centre.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Looking out from beneath the jasmine covered pergola. Restful shade and another formal display of planters at the far end of the garden.

Copyright A Walsh 2002-2007