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Spiderman in Palma

He scaled tall buildings barefoot

There's an interesting video come to light in the last few days courtesy of the history group Fotos Antiguas de Mallorca (Old Mallorca Photos) which shows a crazy stunt by a Portuguese 'climber' called Massa Vaz. He, using only his bare feet, hands and a conveniently placed rope, scaled the facade of one of Palma's grandest buildings, the Gran Hotel.

As you can see in the video, a large crowd had gathered so watch the self-proclaimed 'Spiderman' perform this feet, as his immense fame went before him. He was already well-known for climbing some of Spain's most emblematic buildings in a craze which emanated in the USA when people started to emulate the daredevil stunts of Harold Lloyd in movies like 'Safety First,' which in Spain was titled El Hombre Mosca (the Human Fly.)


This particular stunt took place on 31st January 1931, a time of great flux in Spain when the elections which threw out the monarchy and led to the proclamation of the Second Republic were looming. Little could Vaz, and the large crowd gathered on that day have known that war clouds were on the horizon and that the beautiful building he climbed would play its part after Franco's coup d'etat in 1936.

The Gran Hotel was built in 1903 by the Catalan architect Lluís Domènech y Montaner, was the first building of any importance in the Modernist style in Mallorca, and saw many illustrious guests until it closed its doors forever when the Spanish Civil War started in 1936.

It was then that it became a luxurious billet for a squadron of Italian airmen - Falchi delle Baleari (Balearic Falcons) - sent by Mussolini to fight for Franco's Nationalists. They flew Savoia Marchetti SM-79's, known as Sparrowhawks, a 3 engined bomber which was faster than any Republican plane, and bombed mainland towns with impunity.

Now this lovely building houses the CaixaForum, a space for art and culture as well as an excellent, bookshop, cafe and restaurant from whose terrace you can gaze up at the intricately decorated facade and see just where the Spiderman scaled the building all those years ago.