The monasteries of Mallorca – La Misericordia, Palma

Once a hospital for the poor ….

The impressive ensemble of buildings called “La Misericordia” in the heart of Palma at the end of the Rambla is a monastery, but actually not a monastery: La Misericordia was once founded by a “consecrated brotherhood” of Christian faith, the “Confraria de la Preciosissima Sang de Nostre Senyor Jesucrist (Brotherhood of the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ)”, but this brotherhood did not lead a monastic, communal life. Rather, it was an association of respected citizens and benefactors who pledged to exercise charitable compassion through generous donations. The prestigious brotherhood still exists today. Their membership is usually passed on from one generation to the next. In particular, the brotherhood appears in public during the great Easter processions. This brotherhood founded a poorhouse in the 19th century and called it “La Misericordia”. It was intended to serve as the central house in Palma for the care of the elderly and the sick.

Today a cultural centre with library

Since 1977, La Misericordia has been run by the island council and has the function of an administrative and cultural centre. Among other things, it houses an important library for art, art theory and arts and crafts. It also houses the archives of the former Provincial Council and, in the “Guillem Mesquida” room, the extensive Luis Alemany library, which deals with works on the Balearic Islands.

The ensemble of buildings, embedded in a Mediterranean park garden, essentially consists of two mighty, four-storey buildings, which originally, when used as a nursing home for the old and sick, strictly separated men and women. Both have separate entrances from the street side (one entrance via Plaza del Hospital, the other via Calle de la Misericordia) and are connected to each other by an arcaded courtyard. A visit to the place of worship, built by the famous architect Joan Sureda in 1831, is recommended.