is a maddening mix of traffic, crowds, noise, crumbling
buildings and some historical treasures. The Palace (Palazzo di Normi) on Piazza Indipendenza has been altered numerous time since it was built by
Roger II in the 12th century. For many the main attraction of the
Palazzo is its Palatine Chapel. Other sections of the building
are available on a tour-only basis. The Palazzo also serves at the
forum for the Parliament of Sicily (Piazza de Parlamento).
The Zisa (11th century),
just to the west of Old Town Palermo (on the Piazza Zisa), is a Moorish influenced palace
constructed for King William I. It is worth a short visit if
you are in the area.
The region Archaeological Museum in the Piazza Olivella is one of
the gems of Palermo. It offers interesting displays on the
history of the Etruscans, Greeks and Roman in this area of Sicily.
For more information, see this
link. The Archeological Museum is located in the Old City Center near the Teatro
Massimo, off of Via Roma
The Capuchin Catacombs were used for burials once the local
cemetery was filled. Over 8000 bodies (not caskets, but
bodies) were wedged-in here between
the 16th and early 20th centuries. Although somewhat morbid of
an attraction, the neatly stacked skeletal remains are a popular
visit for many tourists.
There are several interesting piazzas in the historic center of
the city, mainly along Via Vittorio Emanuele. Follow Vittorio
Emanuele to the Piazza Bellini to see the church Sana Caternina, the
Norman La Matorana Bell Tower and the Arabic domes on the former
church San Cataldo. Also, be sure to see the Piazza Quattro
Canti, which is one of the city's most decorative piazzas.
During the reign of the Normans, a great effort to convert Sicily to
was undertaken. In addition to the Duomo in Palermo, impressive cathedrals were
constructed in nearby Monreale (William II) and in more distant Cefalý
(William I). Although the
architecture of both cathedrals is unremarkable, the interiors hold incredibly
beautiful mosaics that cover most exposed surfaces.
The interior of Monreale Cathedral (Santa Maria al Nouva) is decorated
with some of the most famous and celebrated mosaics in the world.
The cathedral's architecture and decorations are one of the best examples of
the mix of Arab, Byzantine and Norman styles that makes this area of Sicily so
The Norman Cathedral at Cefalý (shown below) is yet another classic
representation of the blended architectural style of the Palermo region.
The Norman cathedral dominates Cefalý's profile. The setting is scenic and impressive. As at Monreale, the real treasures of the cathedral are its beautiful mosaics.
Cefalý sits on a rocky coast and some of the views in the area are gorgeous.
Located approximately 40 miles east of Palermo, Cefalý has a number of
modest attractions, good food and a reputation as a place "to get away".
If you need information about another travel destination, try
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.
Interior area of the Norman Palace in Palermo
San Cataldo is a former church in Palermo that was constructed by the
Normans, but bears three domes, reflecting the Arabic influence in
Sicily at the time.
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Image of Christ Pantocrator in the apse at Monreale Cathedral
The Benedictine Cloister at Monreale Cathedral and some of the two
hundred plus columns supporting its portico.
Although similar looking to the image above, this mosaic of Christ Pantocrator
is from the Cathedral at Cefalý.