What to see in Palermo, Sicily
Palermo is the regional county seat of Sicily and it’s a lively, sometimes chaotic but still enjoyable city.
A long history of conquests by different empires has left marks on buildings, local cuisine and people’s habits. That’s why Palermo is so fascinating.
Why visiting Palermo
Maybe it isn’t the first city you think about when planning a holiday in Italy, but Palermo has plenty of things to see and do.
Just to give you a quick hint, in Palermo and its surroundings there are:
– over 100 churches
– 12 UNESCO sites
– the second largest historical center in Italy
– the third largest opera theater in Europe
– 4 of the oldest street markets in Italy
Now that you know that Palermo has so much to offer, which are the main attractions to see?
I’ve chosen a few of them.
Walking through the streets of Palermo
While visiting Italian cities and towns, churches are definitely one of the most accessible ways to discover art and history.
The main Cathedral of Palermo is a good example.
Its history goes far back to the year 1170 when the English archbishop of Palermo, Walter Off the Mill, started its construction. Actually, it was the third reconstruction of an ancient cathedral already existing in the early Christian period (4th century).
During time the Cathedral has been used also as a mosque and changed it appearance. That’s why it shows a mix of different architectural stiles, from the Moorish elements on the exterior to the renaissance clock tower.
The Palatine Chapel
The Palatine Chapel, close to the Pallazzo dei Normanni, is one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture in Europe.
The stunning golden mosaics the cover the walls and the ceiling are full of details and colors that will leave you speechless.
Palazzo dei Normanni
Maybe the most iconic building in Palermo, the Palazzo dei Normanni (the palace of the Normans) is the royal palace of the ancient kings of Sicily.
It is the oldest royal residence in Europe, did you know this?
Similarly to the Cathedral, also the Norman palace was built on pre-existing elements.
Its foundations rest on the remains of a Punic settlement and throughout its history the building has been continuously modified to suit the tastes and needs of the different conquerors. The Norman and Moorish influence is pretty clear.
The Fontana Pretoria
Fontana Pretoria is a monumental fountain that could be one of the best background for your photos in Palermo.
It was built in 1554 by a Florentine architect and then moved to Palermo in 1574.
If you are into Greek Mythology, the marble statues of Fontana Pretoria depict the twelve Olympians including Zeus, Apollo, Ares and Poseidon.
There is no other place that shows the real soul of a city and its inhabitants more than a street market.
Palermo has four street markets that date to the Arab domination. They are Capo, Ballarò, Vucciria and Borgo Vecchio.
You can find fish, meat, fruits, vegetable, street food and much more. But most of all you can meet real people.
Palermo is close to the seaside. This means that it doesn’t take so much to reach some of the most lovely beaches of Sicily.
Actually, the city itself has its own beach, Mondello.
Mondello beach lies between two cliffs which create a beautiful background for the many Liberty style villas on the seafront promenade. The crystal clear water of the sea is the icing on the cake.
Fortunately, the climate in Sicily is mild most of the year and people can enjoy the sun and the sea from April to October.