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Culture of Palermo. Places to visit - old town, temples, theaters, museums and palaces

Palermo, piazza Pretoria, e fontana della Vergogna Tourists choose the Quattro Canti architectural complex as a starting point of exploration of landmarks and sights of Palermo city. Its name can be literally translated as Four Corners. The complex encompasses four buildings which are located by the sides of a crossroad. The construction of the buildings was held in the 17th century. The buildings are executed in baroque style and feature unique frontage decoration. The bottom of the complex features fountains of ultimate beauty meanwhile the upper part of the complex is decorated with statues embodying Sicilian Kings and patron saints.
Palermo boasts a variety of restaurants of Italian cuisine, each being able to impress its visitors with inimitable house specialities and drinks. However the city of Palermo is not limited … Open
The city has preserved numerous monuments and landmarks of Norman architecture. The most remarkable and tourist attracting among them is the Capella Palatina. The construction of chapel was started in 1130 and lasted for 10 years. The decoration and design of the interior lasted till 1460. During a tour travelers will be offered to look into the chapel and enjoy the majesty of ancient mosaics, marble articles and other antique artifacts.
Another remarkable landmark of Palermo is the Porta Nuova. The gate serves as a symbolic entrance to the historical center of the city. The gate was built in the second part of the 17th century. The construction presents a complex architectural composition of ingenious statues, large stanzas and pyramid shaped cupola. The most remarkable and significant historical landmark of the 18th century is the Orlean Palace which serves as the main residence of the president of Sicily from the 1947. Copyright
The most significant and remarkable event in the cultural life of Palermo city is the World Festival on the Beach attracting more and more foreign guests year after year. The festival is … Open
In the middle of the 19th century the palace was surrounded with a large park which is nowadays among the most attractive and remarkable natural sights of the city of Palermo. The square of the park is about 60ha. Its visitors get a unique chance to observe and enjoy plenty of aged trees and antique statues. The same interesting and attractive for tourists is the Palazzo dei Normanni. According to historical records the first fortress on the place of the modern palace was built as far back as in 9th century. The fortress existed there till the 11th century and then was reequipped into a majestic palace.
For centuries the fortress served as the main residence of local kings. Today significant political events are held in the palace as well. The most beautiful square of the city is considered to be the Piazza Pretoria which was established in the 15th century. In the heart of the square tourists will find one of the main symbols of Palermo city being a majestic fountain. The opening of the fountain was held in 1574. In the close neighborhood to the square tourists will find several remarkable samples of architecture. That is why a tour to the square will be full of impressions.
In the section below, you can get one of our excursion, activities or city discovery tours over Palermo and surroundings. Our website offers 10-30% lower ticket prices, when compared to the offline purchase on the spot.

City tours, excursions and tickets in Palermo and surroundings

Plan your own excursion through Palermo: churches, museums and castles

Palermo Cathedral, Palermo

» The relics of Saint Rosalia rest in the cathedral church. She is considered as its intercessor.
»  Tombs of the nobles who contributed much to the development of the Kingdom of Sicily have been preserved in honor of them. At the beginning of the 12th century, the first ruler was crowned in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
»  The construction resembles a castle. The House of God differs from the mundane one with its bell tower and dome. It is distinguished by the combination of different architectural styles. They will let you trace the complicated history of the country. The temple had been built for a very long time (12th-18th centuries).
»  There are a lot of marble statues inside. The most famous one is the statue of the Palermo patroness. In the altar zone, there are a lot of frescoes dating back to the 18th-19th centuries and a mosaic throne (the 12th century). Treasures, such as silver tableware and precious items, are kept in the special place.
»  On the floor of the main hall, you can see a meridian with zodiac signs on it. At 12 o’clock, the sunbeam hits one of the signs, in which the Sun has been throughout the day, through the hole in the dome. The heliometer was placed here in 1690.
»  With the permission of the bishop, Italian astronomer Piazzi made his observations in the cathedral.

Church of the Gesu, Palermo

Location on the map:   Facts: » The official name of the church is Santa Maria di Gesù or Casa Professa.
»  The religious Society of Jesus was established in the city in the middle of the 16th century. It was decided to build a church for services.
»  Casa Professa means the House of Professes. Professes are the supreme rank of the members of the Society of Jesus.
»  The church is located on the hilltop. The legend says that hermits lived here. There were also underground funeral galleries.
»  The interior is fully decorated with marble and ceramic paintings depicting Biblical scenes. Moldings and frescoes are multicolored. The Church of the Gesu is distinguished by the combination of colorful tiled plates, on which bright patterns are carved. There are also supporting columns with ornaments.
»  Painting specialists have recognized the uniqueness of the interior design.
»  The exterior seems to be divided into two parts. There are three entrance doors at the lower level. On their sides, there are statues of saint benefactors and Madonna holding a baby in her hands in the niches. Vertical ledges of the walls are decorated with pictures of Christian martyrs carved in stone.
»  Under the altar in the basement (crypt), worshipers left their fellows passing away.

San Giuseppe dei Teatini, Palermo

» City constructions of the 17th century were located in winding streets. Upon the order of the ruler, the straight street was built. It crossed the octagonal space. The fifth corner was occupied by the church. It was distinguished by an arched and bright dome. It was made of blue and yellow ceramics.
»  Originally, the House of God was kept by carpenters’ workshops. The emblem (the axe with a crown) and the wooden statue of Saint Joseph have been preserved. The top of the statue is covered with a thin metal gilded sheet.
»  In 1603, the temple came to the Order of Theatines. The legend says that they needed the underground under the building. The reconstruction of Chiesa di San Giuseppe dei Teatini lasted 30 years.
»  The monumentality of the church really impresses. Entrance doors are marked by two rows of columns. There is a niche near them. It is decorated with colorful ornaments and angels. In the alcove, there is the statue of one of the founders of the Order of Theatines.
»  The floor inside is marble. The walls are decorated with frescoes.
»  San Giuseppe dei Teatini is famous for its hidden crypt. It has been preserved since ancient times. There is also the source of the healing water in the underground tomb.

Palazzo dei Normanni, Palermo

» Palazzo dei Normanni (the Norman Palace) with the Palatine Chapel consists of several rooms. It serves as a museum, liturgies are held here, and there are exhibition rooms.
»  Throughout its history, the building had been used for different purposes: it was the place where the Sicilian nobles met and where the legislative body sat. In 1947, the Parliament started to meet here.
»  The exterior of the mansion is characterized by the mixture of cultures on the island. It is connected with the exploration of Sicily.
»  The first shelters belonged to the Phoenicians. Then, Ancient Roman fortifications were constructed here. In the 9th century, Arab conquerors built a palace on the ancient ruins. In the 11th century, the building was “inherited” by Norman regiments invading Italy. Upon the order of the Norman leader, the Mauritanian Palace was rebuilt. It turned into a royal residence. In a few centuries, the residence turned into a Spanish castle. The building was reconstructed again.
»  Paintings of modern artists are displayed in its basements.
»  The building has a total area of about 400 m.

Chiesa di Santa Caterina, Palermo

Location on the map:   Facts: » The duplex staircase leads to the inner rooms of the church. There is the statue of Saint Catherine (1685) above the gate.
»  The interior is decorated with a patterned marble. There are also a lot of gilded moldings. Everything - bas-reliefs, sculptures, and panels - is dedicated to great martyr’s life. The dome that crowns the building was constructed in 1744.
»  The church started to be built at the beginning of the 14th century. Aristocratic ladies who own real estates in the city decided to present them to the Order of Saint Dominic. It was planned to build a convent. The monastic church has been opened since 1310. The unprivileged and repentant women of easy virtue were accepted here.
»  Donations to the monastery were generous. The interior of the church was decorated with rich elements at the expense of patrons.
»  Many nobles preferred to live in the monastery like hermits.
»  Monastery abbess Sister Mary, the woman from the Count’s family, started to build the House of God in 1566. After the years of construction (in 1596), the building was blessed in honor of Catherine of Alexandria.
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What to visit during two-day excursion in Palermo

The Catacombs
Where: Catacombe dei Cappuccini, Via Cappucini 4 / Piazza Cappuccini 1, Palermo; Telephone: +39 091 212 117; Opening hours: Daily 9.00-12.00 and 15.00-17.00 (until 19.00 in summer). Closed monday and sunday morning and on holidays.;
Santa Caterina Church
Where: Piazza Pretoria / Piazza Bellini, Palermo; Telephone: +39 338 451 2011;
Museo Archeologico Regionale
Where: Piazza Olivella 24, Palermo; Telephone: +39 091 611 6805; Opening hours: Mon 8.30-18.45, Tues-Sat 8.30-13.45, Sun 8.30-18.45;
Teatro Massimo
Where: Piazza G. Verdi, Palermo; Telephone: +39 091 605 3111;
Palazzo dei Normanni
Where: Piazza Indipendenza, Palermo; Telephone: +39 091 705 1111; Opening hours: Check opening hours before you visit, as they may vary.;
Reference information
Map of all palaces
Public palaces near Palermo
♥   Palace 'Palazzo dei Normanni' Palermo, 1.3 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Map of all art museums
Art galleries in Palermo and around
♥   Art museum 'Palazzo Abatellis' Palermo, 0.4 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Museo archeologico regionale Antonio Salinas' Palermo, 0.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Map of all churches
Cathedrals and basilicas near Palermo
♥   Basilica SS. Trinità la Magione, Palermo, 0.4 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Chiesa San Cataldo, Palermo, 0.4 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Cattedrale di S. Vergine Maria Assunta, Palermo, 1 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Chiesa San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Palermo, 1.3 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Cappella Palatina, Palermo, 1.3 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Basilica Cattedrale di S. Maria La Nuova, Monreale, 7.6 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Basilica-Abbaziale di S. Martino delle Scale, San Martino delle Scale, 10.3 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Car rental on Rentals in Palermo

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Photogallery of cultural heritage of Palermo

Landmarks of culture on Palermo map: art-galleries, monuments, palaces, etc

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Excursions over cultural sights of neighbours of Palermo

Culture guide to Palermo. Which fascinating sights to visit once you are in Palermo: temples, churches, museums, theaters and castles. Recommendations (with addresses, phone numbers and links) on the places 'must visit' in Palermo. Plan your own city excursion by using this page info! - online travel reservation expert providing reliable car rental and hotel booking services. We feature more than 25.000 destinations with 12.000 rental offices and 200.000 hotels worldwide.
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