I have been living in Palma for nearly 9 months and was surprised to stumble upon a somewhat common monthly event but still very unknown to many residents here on the island - The Changing of the Guards of Honour.
This 30 minute event takes place between the entrance of the Almudaina Palace and the Palma Cathedral, at noon on the last Saturday of every month and at 7:30 pm during the hot summer months. It is very seldomly announced, so unless you are a history buff or coincidentally visiting the Cathedral or Almudaina Palace at the time, you may not be aware of it taking place.
This historical ceremony dates back to 1808 when guards of the Almudaina palace changed shifts during the period of the Spanish War of Independence. It was initiated by the 4th Marquess of Vivot, Joan-Miquel Sureda i Verí, who was a prominent official in the service of Majorcan Spanish Crown. He also fought against French occupation forces during the War of Spanish Independence. Although the changing of the guards dates back to 1808, its re-enactment was initiated not too long ago in 1998 by the Government of the Iberian Islands, in order to display a part of its history for tourists.
The strip between the entrances of both the Almudaina Palace and the Palma Cathedral is quite spacious, however it does get crowded, so if you do plan to attend I'd suggest arriving a bit early to enjoy a front row view and take pictures. However, if you arrive late there is a guard that stays outside the main entrance after the ceremony has finished with whom visitors can take pictures as a keepsake.
The Changing of the Guards of Honour features approximately 20 soldiers of the Light Infantry Regiment of Palma, who pay tribute to the predecessors of the Volunteer Regiment. They are accompanied by muskets, sables, halberds, wigs and drums, recreating the changing of the guard as it once was by perpetuating the memory of those who fought in the war. As the parade begins, out march the 19th century marching band with two drummers and a lone piper from the Almudaina Palace doors, followed by the rest of the soldiers who file into the courtyard. They carry on with the historical recreation, creating a parade, formation, review of arms and a change of sentry posts..
After the parade has finished, visitors can tour the Almudaina Palace. It's open from 10am - 8pm during the months of April to September and from 10am - 6pm during the months of October to March. The entry fee is €9 for adults and €4 or children, however on Wednesdays entry is free all day.
With so many activities to do on this beautiful island, it's easy to forget about all the history right in front of our eyes or overlook free activities to enjoy, especially as the days get longer and the weather gets warmer. The old city may not be big but there is an endless amount to see and the Changing of the Guards of Honour is just one of the many things you can do while visiting Palma.
The Almudaina Palace is located at Carrer del Palau Reial.