Porta Felice is one of the monumental gates of Palermo, located near the sea, at the beginning of the Via Vittorio Emanuele, one of the main axes of the city.
The gate takes its name from Donna Felice Orsini, wife of the Spanish Viceroy Marcantonio Colonna, who, in 1582, decided to give a monumental entrance to the Cassaro, the most ancient street in Palermo, the current Via Vittorio Emanuele.
After the death of Colonna, the construction of the gate, consisting of two imposing pylons designed by the architect Mariano Smiriglio, resumed under the mandate of the Viceroy Lorenzo Suárez de Figueroa y Córdoba, Duke of Feria. The works were completed in 1637, during the viceroyalty of Luigi Guglielmo I Moncada, Duke of Montalto.
During the Second World War, the right pillar was almost entirely destroyed, but a careful restoration brought the monument back to its former glory, though losing some of the original decorative elements.
The internal facade overlooking the city was built in Renaissance style, while the facade overlooking the sea, completed by the architects Pietro Novelli, Mariano Smiriglio and Vincenzo Tedeschi, was realised with coatings and sculptures in grey marble typical of Baroque style.
On the external facade, the two pillars, covered in marble, are decorated with columns, balconies, loggias, architraves, balustrades, capitals, cornices, festoons, masks, friezes, curls and scrolls.
Two niches delimited by columns and architraves, shelter as many statues on pedestals, surmounted by magnificent epigraphs of Philip IV of Spain. In correspondence with the balustrades of the terraces, between curls and connecting volutes, the crowned eagles that hold up the royal signs stand out. On the external buttresses of the lodges, there are the statues of Santa Ninfa and Santa Cristina.
The internal facade overlooking Piazza Santo Spirito, due to the lack of sculptural details, clearly shows the distribution on three orders. On the ground floor, we can find the access doors. At the second order, there is a balcony and a window framed in Renaissance style. On the third floor, there is a panoramic balcony with a curl buttress.
HOW TO GET THERE
Porta Felice is located about 1.5 kilometers away from the Palermo Centrale train station. The closest bus station is Porta Felice, located about 50 meters away, in the Piazza Santo Spirito, which can be reached with the bus Lines 103 and Arancione.