The Ruta Martiana started out as a thing to get people out on Tuesday nights when bars off the main tourist beats in the capital of Mallorca tend to be a bit quiet. It has really taken off and now you can now do it on Wednesdays too. I’d really recommend it as you can explore a bit of the old town of Palma – that you might not otherwise have stumbled upon – by going on a tapas crawl around a few of the bars on the route. There are a couple of dozen so you’d need to do it more than once to get around them all unless you are really serious about it. They offer a drink and a tapa usually for €2 – a few places charge €2.50 or €3 but what’s on offer is usually chalked up on a board either outside on the pavement or behind the bar so you can check beforehand.
‘Martiana’ is a bit of a play on words as it comes from ‘martes’, meaning Tuesday and obviously sounds like ‘martian’ in English and Spanish. They really should be offering Mars Bars to get the full punnage out of it.
Each bar usually has a few tapas to choose from as part of the deal – or pintxos, which is the Basque word for something tasty on a bit of bread that is now used everywhere in Spain. To drink it’s usually a small beer or a glass of wine. Presumably soft drinks are on offer too but funnily enough I didn’t put that to the test.
So where does all this happen? Sa Gerreria is right in the centre and easy to find – just find Plaça d’en Coll, Plaça de la Quartera and Plaça del Mercadal on a map – look just below the Plaça Major – and mooch around these squares and the streets inbetween, such as Pes de la Farina, Cordería, Galera and Espartería.
Although the nearby streets are lined with smart shops, this area of curving narrow lanes is a bit grungy and did indeed use to be a very dodgy neighbourhood. I walked around during the day and at night and saw that a lot of dilapidated old buildings were being renovated – the gentrification of Sa Gerreria is definitely underway. There are still quite a few traditional old shops but the vintage boutiques and organic cafés are creeping in. I spotted the word ‘loft’ several times.
The bars I went to included Molta Barra (Pes de la Farina 12), which was a big and boisterous café with a book launch going on. I had a beer and a goats’ cheese pintxo then popped into The Lemon Tree next door for another beer and an anchovy and red pepper pintxo – this one was trendier with a sort of 60s/Skandi vibe. Then I wandered along to Ca La Seu (Corderia 17), a wonderful place with marble tables in a former basket and rope shop that dates back more than 500 years. And then there were a few more….
I stayed at the Sant Francesc Hotel Singular and the Hotel Cort, both of which are right by Sa Gerreria. Palma Suites, on Plaza Mercadal in the heart of the neighbourhood, are stylish serviced apartments – great for a few days or longer.
Have a look at Visit Palma for more information on what to see and do in the city.