Palma shops play a major part in the city we see today when we visit.
Pocket sized Palma is rich in history, culture and gastronomy and a jewel of a city in the Mediterranean. Big enough to offer choice and variety but small enough to buzz around in a day.
All visitors can savour its architecture, its Moorish city walls, spectacular Gothic Cathedral, take a break at one of the many cafes and restaurants, enjoy wide open plazas and sidle down secret alleyways, all with a backdrop of the breathtaking Bay of Palma.
But what really makes this city particularly special are the Palma shops, bars and restaurants of yesteryear which are still going strong. Of course many visitors will dive into a new Zara, be dazzled by flashy boutiques on Passeig del Borne or grab a burger in a fast food outlet but let me tell you they are missing out on Palma´s rich retail and social history.
Recognising the importance of these emblematic shops to the city of Palma, a new scheme has been launched to promote them and to highlight the part they play in the culture and heritage of the city.
To qualify the business should have opened before 1943, should showcase traditional trades of the Balearic Islands or be housed in a heritage building. Seventy – five businesses have registered which are featured on an online guide for visitors to seek out.
Ranging from hardware stores to record and shoe shops, bars and bakeries, the oldest is a haberdashers, Mercerià Ángela just of Plaza Mayor dating back to 1685 and still run by the same family. Forn Fondo, known for their chocolates and cream ensaïmadas, has been serving Palmesanos for almost 300 years.
Carmina, offering shoes made to order or off the shelf and working with leather produced in Inca, are a 6th generation family shoemaker open since 1866 and their brand is now sold worldwide.
If you are visiting with children ( or even if not ) don’t miss the neon green sign of La Industrial toy shop, making children smile for over a century.
The Aguillo family took over the store in 1929 and their granddaughter still runs it today. Next door you will find La Pajarita, one of my favourites, a sweet and savoury mix of deli and chocolates. Who can resist? Opened in 1872 and run now by the 5th generation. Their Christmas window decoration is a sight to behold.
La Casa del Paraguas draws me in each time I pass with its stunning display of fans and umbrellas.
Once you have done all your shopping you will need something to carry it home in! Make your way to Mimbrerià Vidal who sell a wide range of baskets, bags and more all produced by hand since 1955.
A last mention of course for Can Joan de S´Aigo meaning the house of Joan of the Ice. Established some 200 years ago Joan worked in the ice trade storing and delivering ice from the mountains in spring. As it melted he experimented by adding fruit and in doing so made a sorbet. Now established in Palma´s history as one of the places to go for ice creams as well of course as the light flakey pastry we all know and love, the ensaïmada.
So you know what to do next time you are in town. Give the large chain stores a swerve and buy yourself a bag, order some shoes, select an umbrella, choose some sweeties and then lick an ice cream at Can Joan de S ´Aigo and you too can play a part in the history of this great city.
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