Palais des Rois de Majorque, Perpignan, France

Getty Images

Palais des Rois de Majorque

Top choice in Perpignan

Perpignan’s most dominant monument, the Palace of the Kings of Mallorca sprawls over a huge area to the south of the old town. Built in 1276, the castle was later refortified with massive red-brick walls by Louis XIV's military engineer, Vauban. These days the star-shaped citadel is sparsely furnished, but its great battlements and strategic defences still give a sense of the Mallorcan kings’ might. Views from the ramparts stretch over Perpignan’s terracotta rooftops to the coast.

Built in a mix of late Romanesque and Gothic styles, the castle is arranged around three courtyards, with a system of ramps, pinch points and ramparts providing a formidable defensive layout. The central courtyard, with its twin arcaded tiers, clearly shows the influence of Spanish architecture, and the complex would once have housed extensive fig and olive groves, lost once Vauban’s formidable citadel walls enclosed the palace.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Perpignan attractions

1. Musée d'Art Hyacinthe Rigaud


Occupying two elegant hôtels particuliers (private mansions) right in the historical centre, this museum was entirely renovated in 2017 and now ranks as…

2. Hôtel de Ville


The Hôtel de Ville has a typically Roussillon pebbled façade of river stones.

3. Place de la Loge


Three fine stone structures flank place de la Loge. The 14th-century La Loge de Mer was rebuilt during the Renaissance; it was once Perpignan’s stock…

4. La Loge de Mer

0.41 MILES

The 14th-century La Loge de Mer, rebuilt during the Renaissance, was once Perpignan’s stock exchange, then its maritime tribunal.

5. Le Castillet & Musée Casa Païral

0.45 MILES

Like many medieval towns, Perpignan was once encircled by defensive walls. Today all that remains is the red-brick town gate of Le Castillet, at the…

6. Cathédrale St-Jean

0.47 MILES

Perpignan’s old town has several intriguing churches, but the most impressive is the Cathédrale St-Jean, begun in 1324 and not completed until 1509…

7. Musée de Préhistoire de Tautavel

11.13 MILES

The cave-riddled cliffs above Tautavel, 34km northwest of Perpignan along the D117, have yielded a host of prehistoric finds, most notably a human skull…

8. Orgues d'Ille-sur-Têt

13.88 MILES

These rock formations must be one of the most striking geological wonders in Occitanie, though they have remained well under the tourist radar. They…