Festival of light – November 11

Have you ever heard of the Festival of Light in the Cathedral of Mallorca?
Twice a year, a peculiar lighting phenomenon happens in the Cathedral of Mallorca known as the Festival of Light, also as “El Vuit de la Seu”.

It happens twice a year: on February 2 (La Candelaria) and on November 11 (San Martín).

What happens?

After sunrise, the largest rose window of the Cathedral, located in the apse (east), is reflected onto the main facade (west), just below the opposite rose window creating (for a very short time) the shape of an eight or a double rose window: one in glass and the other in light.

Festival of Light – Cathedral of Mallorca

Why happens?

That Magic Festival on February 2 and November 11 occurs for various reasons such as:

The orientation of the temple. The Cathedral of Santa María de Mallorca is oriented corresponding with the sunrise during the winter solstice (120º SE).

Besides influences its construction in a basilica plan with a large central nave (approx. 44 meters high). Additionally, the monumental restoration of the main façade in the 19th century. It determined the current location of its rose window.

And finally, we must talk about the protagonist: the largest rose window of the temple. Without the stained glass opening at the beginning of the 21st century and its subsequent restoration, the Festival of Light would not be possible.

Features of the largest rose window:

This rose window is one of the jewels, at an architectural level, of the Cathedral of Mallorca.
It is one of the main elements to understand the construction of the temple. It is the constructive solution to release the load and make the entire weight of the wall lighter; as a result of the change of plans about the initial height of the Cathedral.

It is one of the largest rose windows in the world. It has an approximate area of ​​100m2 and is formed by 1,115 stained glass windows of different colours. Its tracery is of a geometric arabesque type, forming 24 triangles.
It is popularly known as “El Ojo del Gótico” or “La O Mayor”.

Although this rose window was designed in the 14th century; we know that the stained glass windows and tracery was not placed until the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
During the years 1857, 1906 and 1936 due to a storm, lightning and bombing of the civil war respectively, it was damaged and part of the stained glass windows and tracery had to be changed and redone.

The current design dates from 1946 and is the work of the diocesan architect Josep Olesa.

Learn more about this particular light phenomenon on our daily free tours in Palma de Mallorca.