Palermo Walking Tour
Top Sites to Visit

Palermo walking tour offers you opportunity to “travel” across thousands years of well preserved and rich Sicilian history….

       Today’s Palermo is a very unique city combining millennia of history of human presence at the crossroads of great Mediterranean civilizations. 

Taking the sightseeing tour is the first and very logical step to get some idea about the city, its history and location of its main tourist attractions.  See: --> Palermo: Capital of Sicily

However, to really appreciate Palermo’s rich and well-preserved royal past, get in touch with remarkable architecture, monuments and art, feel city’s atmosphere and vibes you have to leave the “sightseeing bus” and take the walking tour. Given the extend of what Palermo has to offer, it may take few or more days, but these certainly will be memorable ones. 

So here they are: Palermo "treasuries" not to miss....


Palatine Chapel

      The richly adorned chapel with its Byzantine-style mosaics of Christ Pantocrator and numerous scenes from Old and New Testaments creates the unique atmosphere so characteristic for Eastern Christianity. The wooden “honeycomb” ceiling is one of the best examples of elegance and lightness of the Arabic art…. 

See details at: --> Palatine Chapel


Castle Zisa

      The 12th century Castle Zisa (Palermo) built by Norman king William 1st is one of the best examples of influence of Arabic architecture in Sicily. It was part of the gardens called Genoardo (from Arabic: “Jannat al-ard” meaning “Paradise on Earth”)....

See more at: --> Castello della Zisa


Pretoria Fountain

      Palermo’s 16th century Pretoria Fountains - fabulous composition of life-sized mythological gods, nymphs, satyrs and animals sprinkling streams of water is a living testimony to human visions by far exceeding the time of its creation…. 

See details at: --> Fontana Pretoria


Villa Giulia

      For visitors, the name “Villa Giulia” may be a bit confusing, so let’s make it clear – it is the public park in Palermo. When opened on June 11th, 1778 it was actually the first public park in Sicily! Originally located at the outskirts of the old city near the sea, today it borders the busy area at the corner of the Foro Italico and Lincoln Street facing on the south the Botanic Garden......

See details at: --> Villa Giulia Park


Ponte dell' Ammiraglio 

    Ponte dell’Ammiraglio (Admiral’s Bridge) is one of the oldest surviving bridges in Europe. It was built over the river Oreto at the beginning of the 12th century at the order of one of the greatest commanders of those times - Admiral George of Antioch (Giorgio d’Antiochia). His military skills and records .....

See details at: --> Admiral's Bridge


Palazzo Senatorio (City Hall)

       The first City Hall (known as Palazzo Pretorio) was founded in the early 14th century by Frederic 2nd Aragon. But it took some 150+ years to see it completed what finally happened in 1470 thanks to the leadership of Pietro Speciale. 

The quadrangular structure with the central court had entrances on each side of the building, however the main one was facing the churches San Cataldo and....

See more at: --> Palermo City Hall


Church San Cataldo

      Chiesa di San Cataldo located on the Plaza Bellini is one of the best examples of fusion of Oriental and Norman architectures and art reflecting centuries of influence of Islamic culture and  its acceptance by Norman rulers.

The church was founded in 1154 by Majone of Bari – the chancellor of Norman king William 1st. It was designed as a private chapel in his palace but probably .....

See details at: --> Church San Cataldo


Church Santa Maria (Martorana)


        The church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio is located right behind another outstanding religious monument – the Church of San Cataldo.

Both of them are facing the Piazza Bellini flanked on the opposite side by the imposing church of St. Catherine and equally magnificent Palazzo Senatorio (City Hall).

    Throughout the centuries the Church of Santa Maria (known also as dell”Ammiraglio and La Martorana) was expanded ......

See details at: --> Church Martorana


Monastery of St. John of the Hermits

     The complex known as Chiesa di San Giovanni degli Eremiti was built between 1130 and 1148 on the orders of King Roger 2nd.  It was erected on the site of an old Gregorian monastery that in 10th century was converted into the Mosque. It also included cloister, dormitory, refectory, cemetery and the garden with an underground spring. The whole complex.....

See details at: --> Church St. John of the Hermits


Museum of Puppets (Marionettes)

Palermo’s Museum of Puppets was founded in 1975 by Antonio Pasqualino – an anthropologist devoted to keep alive the colorful world of fantasy of Sicilian marionettes. For centuries the Teatro dei Pupi (Opera dei Pupi) was a favorite Sicilian folk art. It was feeding imagination of all generations by bringing to life the tales reflecting the rich historical past. The stories from times of Saracens, Crusaders, legends inspired by Norman’s epic Song of Roland, sagas .....

See details at: --> Museum of Marionettes


Cathedral

      Cathedral was founded in 1184 by the powerful archbishop of Palermo – Gualtiero Offamiglio in an attempt to “counterbalance” the prestige and power of the royal cathedral complex in the nearby Monreale. It was built on the footprints of an earlier Byzantine basilica which in turn was converted to the mosque during Arabs domination. 

During the following centuries the cathedral underwent numerous modifications. In  the 13th and 14th centuries.....

See details at: --> Palermo's Cathedral


Capuchin Catacombs

      Catacombe dei  Capuccini are part of the 17th century complex of Capuchin Church and Monastery. While the Capuchin Convent still holds some objects of fine religious art, it is mostly known for its catacombs sheltering fully dressed skeletons and mummified bodies of some famous Palermo’s personages. The “chillingly” fascinating story of catacombs .....

See more at: --> Capuchin Catacombs


Orto Botanico (Botanic Garden)

      Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico) was founded in 1786 by the University of Palermo (at that time known as the Royal Academy of Science).

The main purpose of this initiative was the cultivation of medicinal plants that could be used for teaching in a newly opened Department of Botanical Science with objective to use them for the benefit of health of the population.  Later, with the rise of environmental consciousness one of the most important tasks given to the Botanical Garden was .....

See details at: --> Botanical Garden


Quattro Canti

       Construction of the plaza of the Four Corners was part of the plan to bring back to Palermo the glory and prestige of the Royal City as expected for the seat of the Spanish Government represented by the Viceroy. The works were carried out in early 1600’s by an Italian architect Giulio Lasso. Despite the name “Four Corners” the piazza is actually a corner-less “octagonal-circle” with four sides defined by the streets and remaining four by rounded baroque-style facades. 

Architectonically, all four facades are very similar – each consists.......


Castle La Cuba

      The castle La Cuba was built in 1180 at the request of King William 2nd. Together with the castle La Zisa it was part of the chain of royal recreational residences raised outside of the walled city. Although seemingly simple when seen from the outside, the castle La Cuba is a great example of then dominant Sicilian architectural style skillfully combining Norman’s Romanesque forms with Islamic lines of “Fatimid” flavor and elements of Byzantine decorative art.....

See details at: --> Castle La Cuba


Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia

        St. Rosalie was born around 1130 in a noble Palermian family. Tradition says that her parents: Duke Sinibaldi and Mary Guiscarda were descendants of King of Franks and Italy - Charles the Great (known as Charlemagne). Despite such blue-blooded genealogical lines and obvious access to the Norman Royal court there are no official records of her life. What we know is rather a mixture of traditions and myths than documented historical facts. 

Apparently she was a maid of Queen Margaret (wife of king of Sicily William 1st  the Wicked). This early period .....

See details at: --> Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia


Church Santa Maria della Catena

      The Church of St. Mary of the Chain was built at the turn of the 15th century at the small embankment near the Cala Port. It was designed by one of the greatest masters of the Sicilian architecture in those times - Matteo Carnilivari. The church is the living testimony of his talents to create harmonious combination of traditional Sicilian architecture (Catalan-Gothic influenced by Arab and Byzantine “flavors”) with “lines” of newly emerging Renaissance. After Carnilivari’s death in 1506 the finishing works were carried-out by local architects Scaglione and Belguardo, but fortunately they did not make any major changes to......

See more at: --> Church of St. Mary of the Chain


If you would like to start your trip to Sicily, please visit: --> Rediscovering Sicily

or go back to: --> Palermo: Capital of Sicily


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