Palermo, Italy Cityscape and History

By | January 6, 2022

Palermo, capital of the autonomous region of Sicily and the Città metropolitana Palermo, Italy, at the foot of Monte Pellegrino, between the Gulf of Palermo and Conca d’Oro, (2019) 663 400 residents.

Archbishopric; University (founded in 1805), technical college for technology, music and art academy, seminary, numerous scientific institutes, libraries, museums (archaeological, geological, ethnological; international puppet museum, diocesan museum), picture galleries, Teatro Massimo opera, botanical garden; numerous consulates, industrial groups, insurance companies, banks. Palermo is an important tourist and trading center with an international fair (Fiera del Mediterraneo); Vegetable and fruit wholesale markets that are important for the surrounding area. Palermo has food, textile, building materials industries, shipyards (ship repairs), and cable plants. Natural harbor with significant commercial and passenger traffic (especially with Naples); international airport Palermo – Punta Raisi.


According to indexdotcom, Palermo is rich in buildings from the Norman and Staufer times, which combine forms of medieval European with those of Byzantine and Arab architecture. For this reason, the city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2015.

In the south of the old town rises the Palazzo dei Normanni (also Palazzo Reale), which emerged from an Arab fort. Among other things, the complex, which was continually expanded into the 18th century, has preserved from the Norman building. the Cappella Palatina (consecrated in 1140), built under Roger II, a three-aisled building with a central dome, Byzantine mosaics and richly painted stalactite ceiling; King Rogers’ hunting room is covered with mosaics of North African fauna and flora and mythological motifs.

Outside the old town are the Norman pleasure palaces La Zisa (1165–80; restored and set up as a Museum of Islam) and La Cuba (1180). Numerous churches from this period have been preserved, especially San Giovanni degli Eremiti (begun in 1132, crowned by five red domes), La Martorana (1143, with mosaics and paintings; later changed several times, baroque facade 1728-30), San Cataldo (1161). The cathedral, consecrated in 1185, combines architectural styles from several centuries, inside there are porphyry sarcophagi of Rogers II, Henry VI. , Frederick II. i.a. Other churches and secular buildings date from the Gothic and Renaissance periods, such as the Church of San Domenico (begun in 1300, rebuilt 1636–40, facade in 1726) and the richly decorated Oratorio del Rosario di San Domenico (14th century).

Decisive for the current appearance of the city was the Baroque period, in which wide streets were broken through the old town and numerous churches, palaces and fountains were built, characterized by rich decorative elements, such as the Quattro Canti square (1609, with four magnificent buildings and fountains on the sloping ones Square corners), the Porta Felice (1582–1637) and the Porta Nuova (1535, renovated in 1761).

The magnificent building of the Teatro Massimo (1875–97) dates from the late 19th century. The Galleria Regionale della Sicilia is housed in the Palazzo Abbatelli (1495; renovation 1953/54 by C. Scarpa). The Museo Nazionale Archeologico with remains of sculptures from the temples of Selinunte is located in the monastery buildings adjoining Sant’Ignazio all’Olivella (1585 ff., Dome 1732).

The area on Via Roma was an important urban expansion project at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Two exedrons (1936, by Giuseppe Capitò) and the equestrian statue of Viktor Emanuel II (1886, by Benedetto Civiletti) form their representative access, along the boulevard there are numerous palazzi in historical and Art Nouveau forms: Napolitano (1923, by Salvatore Caronia Roberti), delle Ferrovie (1930), del Banco di Sicilia (1936, by S. C. Roberti), della Cassa Centrale di Risparmio (1907, by Ernesto Basile), Savona (1922), Arezzo (1897) and others. The old town was badly damaged by earthquakes in 1968.


Palermo, the ancient Panormos (Latin Panormus), a Phoenician foundation at the end of the 7th century BC. Was the main base of the Carthaginians in Sicily during the 1st Punic War until 254 BC. Was conquered by the Romans. After temporary occupation by Vandals and Ostrogoths, Palermo was conquered by the Byzantines in AD 535 and by the Saracens in 831. Of these 948 raised to the capital of Sicily, it rose to one of the largest and richest cities of the Islamic cultural area. After it was captured by the Normans in 1072, Palermo became the residence and coronation city of the kings of Sicily under Roger II. a tall flower. In 1282 Palermo was the center of the conspiracy against Charles I of Anjou (Sicilian Vespers). In the following period it was under Aragonese-Spanish, Austrian and Spanish-Bourbon rule. The revolutionary government formed in 1848 after a popular uprising was able to hold its own until May 1849. On May 27, 1860 G. Garibaldi moved into Palermo. The city was bombed repeatedly during World War II and occupied by Allied troops in July 1943.

Palermo, Italy Cityscape