Palermo is a fascinating city that might strike you only at second sight. It was founded in the 8th century BC, conquered and developed by the Arabs and flourished to the most cultural city in the 12th century under the Normans (Roger I), before it received it’s current shape by the Spaniards. Nowadays Palermo is not only Sicily’s capital, but also Italy’s fifth largest city. Due to its history, it offers a mixture of historical palaces and churches, beautiful baroque buildings and houses that are still marked by the 2nd World War. Yet, Palermo is really worth it to be visited! Take a walk and discover the special atmosphere by yourself or participate in a guided tour, that we are happy to organize for you!
One of the most important places of interest is certainly the Norman Palace “Palazzo dei Normanni”. Built in the ninth century by the Arabs for their Emir and developed to an even more impressive palace under the Norman rulers, it is since 1947 the domicile of the regional parliament of Sicily. Visit also the chapel “Cappella Palatina” – a jewel of Norman architecture! Built in the 12th century, it is famous for its beautiful mosaics covering the walls!
Another attraction you should not miss is the impressive cathedral „Cattedrale di Palermo“ with its tombs of the Norman-Hohenstaufen Dynasty und its treasury of which the most famous is the crown of Constance of Aragon, the crown with which Frederick II was supposed to be crowned emperor.
A well-known and probably the most bizarre place of interest is the catacombs “Catacombe dei Cappuccini”. Used from 1599 on as a burial place by the Capuchin priests, it had been popular also for wealthy Parlermitani to get buried here until approx. 1830. There are still more than 2,000 mummified bodies, incl. the famous Rosalia Lombardo, a nearly 2 year old child who died in 1920 and looks still alive due to a special embalming technique.
Visit the church S. Giovanni degli Eremiti with its red domes that was built by Roger II in the year 1136 on the ruins of a Benedectine monastry. And don’t forget to participate in a guided tour in the Teatro Massimo – the 3rd biggest opera in Europe!
In order to complete your sightseeing tour in Palermo, visit one of the outdoor markets (Vucciria, Borgo Vecchio, Capo, Ballaro or at Piazza Perani) with its vivid life and the huge offer of fruit, vegetable, olives, fish, etc.
Only a 20 – 30 minutes drive outside of Palermo Monreale offers one of Sicily’s most important and overwhelming attractions: the Cattedrale Santa Maria Nuova. Built by William II between 1179 and 1182, this cathedral is since 2015 a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage and it is said that its mosaics show the most beautiful Jesus Christ. Breathtaking are also the 228 double columns with relief work and coloured stones of the cloister next to the cathedral that surround the garden. Should you not have had the possibility to see it from the top of the cathedral, do visit the cloister!
Finally, we recommend to see Palermo’s mountain, the Monte Pellegrino, that not only offers great views over Sicily’s capital but also the possibility to visit Palermo’s sanctuary “Santa Rosalia”. Built in 1625, it is dedicated to Rosalia who had been credited with having saved the city from a deadly plague.