Piazza Quattro Canti: the very centre of the city

The Piazza Quattro Canti is the heart of Palermo, a fascinating place where festivities and executions were celebrated alike. Admire the four buildings that make up the square and its statues, and stroll through the historic streets to the splendid Fontana Pretoria. You'll find a piece of history around every corner, and you'll be fascinated by the architectural beauty of the district's buildings!

Four Songs

- © krivinis / Shutterstock

Quattro Canti is the best-known name of a square in Palermo originally called Ottagono because of its octagonal shape formed by four buildings, Teatro del Sole because at any time of year at least one of the four cantons is lit by the sun, or Piazza Villena in honour of the Spanish viceroy in charge when construction of the facades was completed in 1620.

The entire project was entrusted to the Florentine architect Giulio Lasso, modelled on the Quattro Fontane crossroads in Rome.

Four Songs

- © Dave Carroll / Shutterstock

The square is located at the intersection of two streets: Via Maqueda and Via Cassaro, today better known as Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

This intersection led to the division of the city into four parts called mandamenti, corresponding to the four historic districts: Palazzo Reale or Albergheria to the south, Monte di Pietà or the Capo to the west, Castellammare or Loggia to the north and Tribunali or Kalsa to the east.

Each building has three different architectural orders.

Starting at the bottom are the fountains representing the four rivers of the ancient city of Palermo (Oreto, Kemonia, Pannaria and Papireto), followed by the allegories of the four seasons in Doric style, represented by statues of Aeolus, Venus, Ceres and Bacchus.

In the central order, in Ionic style, are the statues of the four Spanish kings (Charles V, Philip II, Philip III and Philip IV) and finally, in the upper order, the statues of the patron saints of the respective districts (S. Agata, S. Ninfa, S. Oliva and S. Cristina).

In 1856, basins were added beneath the fountains following the Senate's decision to lower the level of Calle Maqueda to improve rainwater drainage.

The Pretoria Fountain

Near the Quattro Canti is the famous and magnificent Pretoria Fountain, located in the square of the same name. The fountain was created in 1554 by the Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani in Florence for a private garden.

In 1581 it was purchased by the Senate of Palermo and moved to the square, where it can still be admired today. Palermo's inhabitants know the square as Piazza della Vergogna because of the nudity of the statues.

The fountain had up to 48 statues, but it is not complete: some were damaged during transport and others were kept by the owner.

Pretoria Fountain

- © BlackMac / Shutterstock

Palermo by panoramic bus with day ticket

Discover Palermo's main sights, including the Quattro Canti, on board City Sightseeing Palermo.

Duration: 1 day

👛Fare: from €20

👉 Website

B&B Hotel Palermo Quattro Canti Palermo

B&B Hotel Palermo Quattro Canti

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