La Lonja and the Born are magnets for tourists. | Javi Rodríguez


Residents of La Lonja and Passeig Born in Palma are said to be an endangered species. They are being squeezed out by restaurants, ice-cream parlours, art galleries, hotels, 'Airbnb' flats, high-end decoration shops and palatial splendour. Rents are shooting up and noise is a familiar problem. The Sa Llotja-Es Born residents association says that there is flagrant non-compliance with closing times and that, little by little, La Lonja is being left without residents due to inaction by authorities. The neighbourhood is ceasing to be residential and is becoming a 'macro-hotel' for tourists.

Jaime Herrero, the president of the association, says that "we have become strangers in our own neighbourhood". "We are besieged by restaurants and bars. Those of us who remain in La Lonja have to fight with the restaurant owners. We know how to file complaints off by heart. Not that these do much. Those who live in La Lonja appreciate that double glazing is their best friend, not only when trying to sleep, but simply for living."

Relations with the restaurants are all but over, given that they do not act in good faith. "They break the hours each and every day. During the week they close at midnight and at weekends they are open until three in the morning. And nobody does anything. It is continuous inaction. The latest fashions are to turn garages into premises or expand those they already have, even if they do not have a licence. How do they expect there to be dialogue?"

La Lonja and the Born have special significance in Palma's history. The Born was originally a gathering place for tournaments and parties (the name means tournament). In the nineteenth century, it became a promenade, a place for Palma society to meet. The Arabs urbanised it in the eleventh century, as evidenced by the Porta de l'Almodí next to Plaça de la Reina, which gives access to Carrer de la Mar, one of the entrances to the Islamic walled area.

The Mallorcan nobility used to live here, and so there are buildings of great architectural and heritage value, such as Can Quint, Can Montenegro and Can Solleric. If Palma is a city of courtyards, this is especially so in this area. In the narrow and winding streets, those of Pau, Sant Feliu, Montenegro and Sant Gaietà, are Gothic and Baroque mansions arranged around patios. And on Antoni Maura there are outstanding modernist-style homes.

The residents association points to the proliferation of urban hotels and holiday rental apartments. These have caused many residents to leave, while local businesses are closing down. There are now just a couple of bakeries and a small supermarket. In addition, there are the problems with parking. Jaime Herrero notes that every event ends up affecting the residents. "The best thing in this neighbourhood is to have a bicycle."

He stresses the need for greater surveillance. Many vehicles skip the ACIRE restricted access area, as drivers know the streets where there are no cameras. "The number of residents and vehicles with permission does not correspond to the density of traffic on the streets of La Lonja."