Castell de Bellver

( Bellver Castle )

Bellver Castle (Catalan: Castell de Bellver) is a Gothic-style castle on a hill 3 km to the west of the center of Palma on the Island of Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. It was built in the 14th century for King James II of Majorca, and is one of the few circular castles in Europe. First serving as the residence of the Kings of Majorca, and afterward long used as a military prison throughout the 18th to mid-20th century, it is now under civilian control, being one of the main tourist attractions of the island, as well as the seat for the city's History Museum.

 Internal portal, valley, revellí and eaves at the background

The castle originally served as a residence for the Kings of Mallorca whenever they were not staying in mainland Europe, and was subsequently seldom used as a residence for viceroys during the 17th century. As a fortification, it suffered and successfully resisted two sieges during the Middle Ages; the first of them in 1343, during Peter IV of Aragon's campaign to reincorporate the Majorcan territories to the Crown of Aragon, and then again in 1391 during an anti-semitic peasant revolt. The castle has only fallen once in its history into enemy hands, in 1521 after an assault during the Majorcan second Revolt of the Brotherhoods.

The castle was usually governed by a Lord Warden. In 1408, King Martin I of Aragon gave the lordship of Bellver to the Charterhouse of Jesus of Nazareth in Valldemossa. Charles of Viana arrived in 1459 to take possession of both the island and the castle, as he had agreed with his father King John II of Aragon, even though finally the king did not grant the lordship or Bellver Castle.

Being an enclosed site, since the end of the 14th century it was used as a prison, firstly to hold Queen Violante of Vilaragut, her stepchildren James and Isabella and other supporters of King James III of Mallorca after his death in the Battle of Llucmajor in 1349. During the War of Spanish Succession it was used to imprison first supporters of Phillippe d'Anjou, and after the Bourbon victory, Maulets (supporters of the Habsburg pretender). During the Spanish Independence War it was used to hold several prisoners captured at the battle of Bailén and later, political prisoners, the most famous of these being the minister Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (1802–1808) who first made a description of the castle and commissioned the first blueprints and drawings of it. The castle served from then on as a political prison, used to lock up several important supporters of the subsequent Habsburg pretenders to the Spanish throne during the 19th century, and later notable republican and Catalanist leaders during the 20th century, including Alexandre Jaume, Member of the Parliament who first won the castle for the city, and Emili Darder, who was the mayor of the city, both subsequently shot.[1]

 Circular inner yardVideo of the Bellver Castle
^ Canyellas, Tomeu; Ferrero-Horrach, Aina (2018). Bellver, presó franquista. ISBN 978-84-87159-94-7.
Photographies by:
Friedrich Haag - CC BY-SA 4.0
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