With its variety of architectural styles, the Cathedral of Palermo evokes a strong oriental feel, mainly due to its courtyard full of palm trees. Construction began in 1184 on the orders of the archbishop of Palermo, Gualterio Offamilio, who wanted to compete with the beauty and power of the Cathedral of Monreale. It has been renovated over time and splendid improvements like the portico of 3 arches (a Catalan influence) have been added. Is prettier on the outside than on the inside, which is quite sober. It is located in a very beautiful place where we were lucky enough to see the wedding of an Italian soldier.
This is one of the best beaches in Sicily. It's usually pretty crowded since it's the Palermitans' favorite beach and close to the Sicilian capital. It has crystal-clear water and fine white sand. As in most of Italy, the beaches are private (10 € for two rental chairs and an umbrella) but there is a public space. Along the beachfront promenade, there are numerous restaurants where you can try the famous arancini (breaded rice balls stuffed with meat) among other things. Parking is often a problem, so you'll have to look for private parking lots, which are actually empty lots where you can leave the car for around 4-5 €. These parkign lots are often run by local families.
The Piazza Vigliena, better known as Canti Quattri, can be found in the intersection of Via Maqueda with Corso Vittorio Emanuele. It is the center of Palermo and can be found inside a circle formed by four buildings. Also it is known as Theater of Sun, as when the day passes, it gives the light of the sun to the four buildings.
This Fountain, or "Fontana Pretoria" is the most striking element of the Plaza Pretoria. It was designed by the Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani in 1555 for the Tuscan-style villa of the Spanish viceroy, Pedro de Toledo. His son later sold it and it was settled in 1573. The ostentatious white marble fountain dominates the square, with its steps and pools at different levels that create ripples in concentric circles, dotted with sculptures of naked nymphs, tritons and river gods. Because of its uninhibited use of nudity in the sculptures, the square is commonly known as Piazza della Vergogna (Plaza of Shame). It is said that the local nuns were so outraged that they broke the nose of the man depicted in the statue. Around the fountain magnificent buildings stand, such as the Praetorian Palace and the Church of Santa Caterina.
The Palatine Chapel is in the Palazzo dei Normandi, which is the current home of the Sicilian Parliament. This chapel was ordered to be built by King Roger II between 1132 and 1143. The construction was carried out by Greek craftsmen, Normans and Arabs in order for all religions Sicily had at the time to be represented. It is an authentic treasure not to be missed, especially after its reconstruction in 2009. The entrance to the Palazzo dei Normandi palace as well as the chapel costs 10 € on a guided tour in Italian only.
The Politeama-Garibaldi is near Palermo's centre. It is a neoclassical style theater which was completed in 1874. Its facade is very beautiful. It has a capacity for 950 people and it stages many events throughout the year. Immediately outside are bus stops which go to Palermo Airport. We stayed at the Hotel Europa, which was very close to this Theatre.
The Ballaro market is one of the most authentic in Palermo, while most tourists only visit the famous Vuccira market. The Ballaro market is located south of the Church of the Gesu and is a market where on the street you find stalls of meat, fish, vegetables and cheese. It is best to visit first thing in the morning.
Within a 5 minute walk from the Palatine Chapel, you can find the small church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti . The most striking aspect of its architecture are the five red domes which crown the Arab and Norman-influenced church. It was built in the reign of Ruggiero II in 1142. Inside, you'll find a beautifully preserved cloister. There's a fee to enter.
The Norman Palace currently operates as the headquarters of the Sicilian Regional Assembly. There, you'll also find the oldest settlement in Palermo. It houses the Palatine Chapel, a masterpiece of the Muslims ve in 1143 created the wonderful muqarnas decorated with figures and Kufic inscriptions.
For those of you ve are lovers of horror and morbidity I recommend visiting these catacombs located on the outskirts of Palermo in Sicily. When you descend the stairs to enter the catacombs and you may notice a musty smell in the air, once inside you will find hundreds of mummified bodies will awaken your curiosity, do not miss the chapel of babies.
This church was built around 1640, although the facade was built later in 1726. It consists of 3 naves and houses many works of art. It has an interior cloister, which is the famous Museo del Risorgimento.
Foro Umberto I, also known as the Foro Italico, is Palermo's seafront. It runs by the sea for over 2 Km, from Felice gate to Bagheria. The walk was remodeled in 2000 and is 40,000 m2, you can find ceramic benches, walking paths, parks and bike paths. It's very colorful, the sidewalks are colorful and access is marked by two tall golden totems that are 2 meters high. Along the route there are sculptures with themes of Mediterranean flora and fauna and 1,400 brightly colored small ceramic figures.
Popular markets in old Palmero
The Vucciria market is one of the most touristic places in Palermo, perhaps because it is in the historic centre, between streets referencing "Via Roma" and "Vitorio Emanuele". This market that spans a lot of streets, and its activity takes place mainly during the morning. Due to one thing or another I did not see the market in full swing - the tourists were not there and some stalls were closed. There were still some stalls open, so we walked around. There was a great variety; from household junk, to sweets, to places where artichokes were cooked in large iron pots (I guess to be packaged later ), to warehouses where Palermitans delight in the wines. An interesting corner that should not be missed :).
The Piazza San Domenico is located in the neighborhood of La Loggia, on one side of the Via Roma. Formerly known as "Piano Imperiale", it was built in 1640, then later remodeled and expanded to incorporate the Church of San Domenico. Apart from the beautiful Baroque facade of the church, the square is notable for the Monument to the Immaculate Conception, located in the centre. This marble sculpture was designed by Tommaso Maria Napoli and built by Giovanni Amico. It consists of a high baroque colonnade, on which stands the statue of the Immaculate Conception. At the base of the pedestal there are sculptures of angels and popes.
Even the most inhospitable spot can become a fantastic place. In our case, we spent an afternoon in one of the least attractive areas of Palermo. All we needed were two boxes of drinks, the protection of the only tree in the area and the background of walls almost ruined by graffiti.
The Central Train Station Palermo is located in the Plaza Julio Caesar, a little bit away from the city centre, but still well connected by several bus routes, as well as the airport bus and tourist bus. The interior of the station, which is quite old, is currently under construction, and there are railway lines connecting Palermo to Rome, Messina and other places of interest. The highlight is the outside porch with beautiful columns.
There is a lot of stuff to do in Palermo. It's a city that is home to everything from Punic remains to Art Nouveau houses, the perfect blend of history and modernity to enjoy. Simply put, there is a lot of stuff to do as you enjoy the top Palermo attractions.
The city's variety of architectural and artistic heritage is quite large and you can find Moorish-style buildings, Baroque churches, and neoclassical theaters which host many Palermo activities. In each of the places to visit in Palermo you'll notice the cultural testimony of all conquerors who have travelled through it, each leaving their mark on the city over many centuries.
Some of the main things to do in Palermo are visiting the Catacombs of the Capuchins, a ceremonial site located under a monastery of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, originally a cemetery in the sixteenth century. Today they have become a tourist attraction for its macabre content. The Cathedral, the Palace of the Normans, and the Martorana churches are also places to visit in Palermo.
One of the more interesting attractions in Palermo is an octagonal plaza at the intersection of Via Maqueda and il Cassaro. Here you can enjoy a coffee or stroll while chatting with locals. Along with the Fontana Pretoria, located in the Pretoria plaza, you are in the midst of the city's social center, which is a meeting point for visitors and locals. Still wondering what to do in Palermo? Check out the many experiences described by minube users.