The capital of Sicily has been inhabited by various cultures over the centuries. As a result, you’ll find sights in a wide range of architectural styles in Palermo, from converted mosques and Baroque churches to enchanting palaces and Doric temples.
The Palazzo dei Normanni – also known as the Palazzo Reale – is located on the Piazza della Vittoria. This is the former residence of the kings who represented the Kingdom of Sicily. Nowadays, it’s the seat of the Sicilian Parliament. The palace was originally built in Renaissance style, but you can also see traces of Medieval Arab-Norman art style. On the north side of the palace is the Porta Nuova, the most important city gate in Palermo.
The cathedral is one of the most popular sights in Palermo, with millions of visitors each year. This Medieval church was built between 1179 and 1185 and is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The cathedral also features various building styles. It was rebuilt after a devastating earthquake and, under Arab rule, was even converted into a mosque! The cathedral as it stands today resembles more of a palace than a church. Absolutely worth a visit.
Those who love opera should definitely visit the Teatro Massimo Palermo. This theatre is the largest opera building in Italy and the second largest in Europe. Only the Opéra Garnier in Paris and the Vienna State Opera are larger. So Teatro Massimo Palermo is a sight in Palermo that you really can’t afford to miss. You’ll find the opera house on the Piazza Verdi. The building is famous for its fantastic acoustics, so if you have the chance, you should definitely attend a performance in the Teatro Massimo Palermo.
Villa Giulia was the first public park to be built in Palermo, Italy. On hot summer days, you can escape the city and cool off in the park. Villa Giulia is also popular with the local residents of Palermo, who relax on the benches under the trees. There are a number of unique structures around the central fountain that were designed by Italian architect Giuseppe Damiani Almeyda, who also designed the local Teatro Politeama.
Does the fountain in the Villa Giulia park leave you wanting more? Then make sure to visit the Fontana Pretoria close to the Santa Caterina Church on the Piazza Pretoria. This fountain was designed by sculpturer Francesco Camilliani, at the time a student of Baccio Bandinelli. He originally designed the fountain for the gardens of Don Pietro di Toledo in Florence but, in the year 1573, the fountain was disassembled into 644 parts and relocated to Palermo. The fountain has no fewer than 48 statues of Greek gods and other mythological figures.