All SEE in Palermo

Known and appreciated for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, Palermo is a surprising city that you have to discover by yourself. The city is the main seat of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale, a series of nine religious and civic structures dating back to the era of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily.

The main tourist attractions are the Cathedral of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, the Catacombs of the Capuchin, Piazza Pretoria with its beautiful fountain – Fontana Pretoria, Palazzo dei Normanni, the Quattro Canti Square, also known as Piazza Vigliena, and Teatro Massimo, the largest theater in Italy.

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    Fontana Pretoria

    Fontana Pretoria is a spectacular fountain located in the heart of the historic centre of Palermo, in the square with the same name, Piazza Pretoria. The fountain is decorated with sculptures of the Twelve Olympians and other mythological and allegorical figures.   SHORT HISTORY The fountain was built in 1554, in Florence, by Francesco Camilliani, for the garden of Don Luigi Alvarez de Toledo. In 1573, driven by his debts and about to move to Naples, Don Luigi sold the fountain to the Palermo Senate. The fountain arrived in Palermo on May 26, 1574, disassembled in 644 pieces, with some sculptures being damaged during transport or retained by the previous owner. Therefore, some adaptations were necessary and some pieces were added. The recomposition of the fountain was made by Camillo Camilliani, son of Francesco, with the help of Michelangelo Naccherino, and Fontana Pretoria was finished in 1581. In the 18th and 19th centuries, due to the nudity of statues, the square was popularly known as Piazza della Vergogna (Square of Shame). In November 1998, a restoration work was undertaken, which lasted until November 2003. In December of the same year, the fountain was reopened.   ARCHITECTURE The fountain has a Read more [...]

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    Botanical Garden of Palermo

    The Botanical Garden of Palermo (Orto Botanico di Palermo) is both a museum and a research and educational institution of the University of Palermo, located in the Kalsa district of Palermo. The botanical garden has a collection of over 12,000 different species of plants.   SHORT HISTORY Its origins date back to 1779, when the Accademia dei Regi Studi, establishing the chair of Botany and medicinal properties, gave it a modest plot of land to set up a small botanical garden for the cultivation of medicinal plants. The garden soon proved to be insufficient to the needs of the chair and, in 1786, it was decided to transfer it to its current location. In 1789, the construction of the main administrative buildings of the garden began. A central structure, the Gymnasium, and two lateral bodies, the Tepidarium and the Calidarium, were built in neoclassical style after a design by the French architect Léon Dufourny. Near the Gymnasium, we can find the oldest part of the garden, also designed by the architect Léon Dufourny after a rectangular scheme. On the indication of the Franciscan friar Bernardino da Ucria, a distinguished botanist, the species were arranged according to the Linnaean taxonomy, a Read more [...]

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    Fontana del Genio

    Fontana del Genio (Fountain of Genius), formerly called Genio del Molo or Genio della Fieravecchia, is a statue of the 16th century placed on a fountain of the 19th century, located in Piazza Rivoluzione (Revolution Square), in Palermo. The Genius of Piazza Rivoluzione is one of the eight monumental representations of the Genius of Palermo, the ancient tutelary deity of the city.   SHORT HISTORY The sculpture of Genius, built in the 16th century by an anonymous sculptor, was originally located on the Fontana del Molo Nuovo (Fountain of the New Pier), in the Port of Palermo. Back then, the statue was called Genio del Molo (Genius of the Pier). In 1687, the statue of Genius was transferred from the Fontana del Molo Nuovo to the Piano della Fieravecchia, the current Piazza Rivoluzione, and placed on a marble pedestal. It was called Genio della Fieravecchia. The square was one of the main scenes of the riots of 1820 and 1848, when the people gathered around the statue to protest against the Bourbons. The revolutionaries dressed the statue in the Italian flag, making it a symbol of Palermo’s desire for freedom. In 1852, in order to avoid this, Carlo Filangieri, a Read more [...]

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    Church of Our Lady of Remedies

    The Church of Our Lady of Remedies (Chiesa della Madonna dei Rimedi) and the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites (Carmelitani Scalzi) is a religious complex built in Baroque style, located in Piazza dell’Indipendenza, in Palermo.   SHORT HISTORY During the campaign of the Norman reconquest of Sicily, held between 1064 and 1072, the lighting of fires, suggested in a dream by the Virgin, proved to be an excellent remedy to drive away the annoying insects that weakened the troops. In 1072, after the conquest of Palermo, Roger I of Sicily, nicknamed The Great Count, as a sign of gratitude for the victory, built a primitive church dedicated to Santa Maria dei Rimedi. The current structure was born five centuries later, in 1609, after the arrival of Father Domenico, called to Palermo by the Viceroy of Sicily Juan Manuel Fernández Pacheco and Zúñiga, Marquis of Vigliena. The Convent of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites was built around the same time, under the title of Santa Maria dei Rimedi, one of the first Carmelite institutions of Palermo, and today one of the most important convents of the Discalced Carmelites in Italy. The construction of the complex continued with the help of Read more [...]

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    Cubula, also known as Piccola Cuba (Small Cuba) is an Arab-Norman edifice in Palermo, located within the immense hunting resort of King William II of Sicily, Genoardo.   SHORT HISTORY Genoardo (from the Arabic Jannat al-arḍ, meaning Paradise on Earth), was a large royal park crowded with trees of all species, but especially with citrus and magnolia, in which were found numerous kiosks, residences, fountains and ponds. Of these, worth mentioning are the Cuba Sottana, or Palazzo della Cuba, a structure that still exists, and Cuba Soprana, a Norman tower incorporated during the 18th century in the beautiful palace Villa Napoli. Cubula was built in 1184 by Fatimid architects. The kiosk was probably in the middle of a lake that extended to Cuba Soprana. Because of its particular location, surrounded by greenery, Cubula was often used as a resting place by the Norman sovereign and his guests.   ARCHITECTURE Cubula has a square plan with pointed arches on each side, decorated with rusticated bands and surmounted by a hemispherical dome in the typical red color of Arab-Norman style. The small building uses motifs found on other edifices in Palermo, such as the Basilica La Magione and the Church of the Read more [...]

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    Porta Felice

    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.   SHORT HISTORY 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.   ARCHITECTURE 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 Read more [...]

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    Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta

    The Cathedral of Palermo is a magnificent church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, located in the historical center of Palermo. Since July 3, 2015, the Cathedral is a UNESCO World heritage site, part of the Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale, a series of nine structures dating from the era of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily.   SHORT HISTORY A first church was built in the area in the fourth century. The building is mentioned in a papal bull of Pope Leo the Great in 444 and in a letter to the Sicilian clergy of 447. In 592, the Bishop Vittore demolishes the church and promotes its reconstruction according to the Byzantine canons. A second church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is built on the ruins of the previous one in 604. Between 831 and 1072, during the Arab domination of Palermo, the church was transformed into a mosque. Following the Norman conquest of the city, in 1072, the mosque was converted back to a Christian church. The earthquake of February 4, 1169, seriously damaged the bell tower and the upper part of the facade. Interpreted as a divine punishment Read more [...]

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    Zisa is a castle in Palermo, part of the ancient Norman hunting resort known as Genoardo, included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015.   SHORT HISTORY The construction of the castle started around 1165, during the reign of William I of Sicily, and was completed by his son, William II, in 1175. The castle was not substantially modified until the 17th century. Significant restoration work took place between 1635 and 1636, when Juan de Sandoval, knight of Alcantara, bought the castle. Another floor was added, closing the terrace, and a large staircase was built. Subsequently, in 1806, Zisa came into the possesion of the Notarbartolo princes, representatives of the old Sicilian nobility and heirs of the Ducal House of Sandoval de Leon, who made it their residence, carrying out various consolidation works. In 1955, the building was expropriated by the Italian State, and the restoration work, which began immediately, was suspended shortly after. After fifteen years of neglect, in 1971, the right wing collapsed. The project for the reconstruction was entrusted to Professor Giuseppe Caronia, who, after about twenty years of passionate work, in June 1991, gave back to the world one of the most beautiful buildings of Read more [...]

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    Teatro Massimo

    Teatro Massimo is the largest theater building in Italy, and one of the largest in Europe, after the Opéra National in Paris and the Vienna State Opera. Representation rooms, halls and galleries surround the theater, forming an architectural complex of grandiose proportions.   SHORT HISTORY In the second half of the 19th century, in the light of the new united Italy, Palermo was engaged in getting itself a new identity. The competition for the project of a new opera house was announced by the Palermo Municipality in 1864, but the first stone was laid only on January 12, 1875, after ten years of vicissitudes. The project was entrusted to the architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile, known for the restoration of the Cathedral of Acireale. After his death, in 1891, the construction was supervised by his son, the architect Ernesto Basile. For the effective building of the theater, was contracted the architect Giovanni Rutelli, responsible also for the external decorations of the building. Teatro Massimo opened its doors to the public on the evening of May 16, 1897, with Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff as the inaugural opera. In 1935, the theatre was officially recognized as a public theatre. In 1974, the theatre Read more [...]