Visiting the Palazzo dei Normanni, Palermo’s astonishingly dazzling crowning jewel

In the very heart of the Sicilian capital, stands an astonishing trace of the isle’s Arab-Norman past and a dazzling architectural feat, managing to blend vastly different styles to create an unforgettable monument. The Palazzo dei Normanni is the city’s complex shimmering crowning jewel, making for an unforgettable visit while in Palermo.

The Palace of the Normans

- © Viliam.M / Shutterstock

Since 1946, the Palazzo has been home to the Sicilian Regional Assembly, quite possibly making it the most lavish setting for any office ever. Traces of a palace have existed in this spot since the 9th century, but it’s the Normans that gave it a grand makeover, and its name. After invading Sicily in 1072, the Normans made the Palazzo the King’s main residence and sought to beautify it further.

In 1132, King Roger II added the famous Capella Palatina, a dazzling chapel which flawlessly manages to mix Norman, Fatimid and Byzantine architectural styles to create a golden masterpiece. More than beautiful, this architectural harmony of varying styles encapsulates the tricultural state Sicily found itself in during the 12th century. The sanctuary is dedicated to Saint Peter and is reminiscent of domed basilicas, with the slight addition of myriads of golden mosaics. Unparalleled in terms of their quality and refinement, the Capella’s mosaics are renowned around the world for their incredible delicacy and astonishing light. Take your time in the chapel and be sure to pay close attention to all the wonder that surrounds you.

Make your way to the Appartamenti Reali, remodelled in the sixteenth century, when the Spanish viceroys used the palace. The ornate decor and furniture is well worth the walk through, and gives visitors a completely different perspective on life at the Palazzo, it’s almost like time travelling. The baroque-like decor is a stark contrast to the golden walls of the Capella Palatina, but are stunning nonetheless.

Royal Apartments

- © Qingyao Zhang / Shutterstock

Don’t miss La Sala d’Ercole (or Hercules’ Room) in which the Sicilian Assembly meets. Built by the Spanish Bourbons, you’ll note the impressive decorations that cover the entire room, relaying the stories of the myth of Hercules.

La Sala d'Ercole

- © Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock

Come back through the impressive courtyard and take the stairs to the gardens, a perfect place to finish your visit, surrounded by nature and free to roam and reflect on everything you’ve just seen.

Practical Information about visiting

The Palazzo is open Monday to Saturday from 8:30am until 4:30pm and on Sundays from 8:30am to 12:30pm. Full price tickets cost 19 and you can find out more information on their official website.

by Editorial Team
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