The Cathedral of Light

The Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca is called La Seu in Mallorquín. The Episcopal temple is also popularly called Cathedral of the Sea, Cathedral of Space and Cathedral of Light.

La Catedral is indeed a place where you can see and feel the light unlike any other place. La Seu was built with 87 stained glass windows and 7 rose windows, giving the spacious cathedra a very spectacular play of sunlight at any time of the year. Twice a year, and every year for that matter for the last few hundred years, one can see a special and indeed, magnificent performance of light. Today, February 2nd (Fiesta de la Candelaria) is one of those two days, the other date being November 11th (Sant Martí de Turs).

La Seu - sun 2

Thanks to the ingenuity of mediaeval builders, architects, mathematicians and astrologers, on those two days, the early morning sunlight enters through the large rose window on the Cathedral’s eastern façade, presenting a most colourful impression on the opposite wall, right below the smaller rose window above the Cathedral’s main portal.

Twice a year, an awe-inspiring spectacle can be seen in Palma’s Cathedral when the reflection of the sunlight performs a Dancing Light on the walls of La Seu. It just is the most extraordinary exhibition one can imagine. I do not know of any other place in Mallorca or elsewhere, spiritual or not, where such a beautiful natural illumination can be seen, all courtesy of the sun and the great mathematicians of the 14th century. Shortly after 08h00, the morning sun enters through the large stained glass window facing East and projects the rose window’s colourful pattern on the opposite interior wall, below the Roseton of the main portal, forming a perfect figure of eight. The Cathedral doors, including the main portal, will open earlier than usual, to allow us to appreciate this beautiful spectacle. Admission is free. Don’t come too late; it will all be come and gone within a mere 20 minutes. If you can’t make it this time, the same effect can be witnessed again on November 11th, come rain or shine. Well, that is not quite true. The suns reflection can’t be seen if the clouds obscure the sunlight from entering the Cathedral. Unfortunately, the sun was obscured this morning by clouds or otherwise and the perfect figure of eight could not be seen at all. My photo (above) is thus from a previous year, probably 2009 .

La Seu sun 2

There is a nicely made video of this delightful play of light on the Internet (see below), courtesy of YouTube and sigoloX. The video is in Catalan with, at times, funny English subtitles. It’s worth watching though, if you can’t see the original spectacle. If you would like to see the real thing and missed today’s performance, the next implementation will occur in nine months. There is also another video on YouTube on the same festival of light, done by mallorcaquality. That one is without any comments, but the one shown here gives you more information, I think.

Brilliant, and very moving. Try and see the Dancing Lights, perhaps later in the year. Or, if you can make it to Palma in the next few days, nature’s awe-inspiring light performance should still be on, albeit with not quite the same astronomical precision.

One thought on “The Cathedral of Light

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