Palermo is the capital of Sicily and its largest city. It is nowaday one of the most exciting tourist sites in Italy and is dotted with luxury hotels where plenty of Italian and foreign tourists spend beach holidays in Sicily. The mix of Arabic and Viking influences is one of the strangest and unexpected surprises that Palermo has to offer. Buildings dating from the 11th and 12th century and buildings from the medieval age are some of the most valuable tourist attractions.
Perhaps the most visited holiday site is Palazzo dei Normanni, but also popular are Quattro Canti (a nice example of Baroque architecture) and the catacombs, where local noblemen were mummified. Many tourists visit also the monastery and cathedral in Monreale, located outside of the city.
Palazzo dei Normanni, considered one of the most beautiful palaces in Italy, is a notable example of Norman architecture, built probably over an Arab fortress. It is home to the famous Cappella Palatina, one of the most visited holiday attractions in Palermo.
Palazzo Abatellis, with the regional gallery. It was built at the end of the 15th century for the prefect of the city, Francesco Abatellis, and is a massive but elegant construction with a typical Gothic-style, yet with some Renaissance influences.
Museo Archeologico Regionale is one of the main museums in Italy. It includes numerous remains from Etruscan, Carthaginian, Roman and Greek civilizations.
Cathedral of Palermo, a former mosque turned into christian church in 1185
San Giovanni degli Eremiti, built in 1132
Santa Maria dell'Ammiragliato, built in 1143, named also Martorana
Santa Teresa alla Kalsa, constructed between 1686-1706 over the residence of the former Arab ruler, is one of the most outstanding examples of Sicilian baroque.
Santa Maria dello Spasimo was built in 1506 and turned later into a hospital. For this temple Raphael painted the famous Spasimo, hosted now in Museo del Prado in Madrid.
Church of the Jesus - Chiesa del Gesu - was built by Jesuits in the center of the city in 1564, over a pre-existing convent. The edifice was further enlarged in 1591, becoming one of the most relevant examples of Sicilian baroque. The church was heavily damaged in 1943 by bombings, most of the frescoes being destroyed. This church is home of the Municipal Library, placed there from 1775.
church of St. Francis of Assisi was built between 1255 and 1277 in the old market area of the city; it was largely rebuilt in the 15th, 16th, 18th, and 19th centuries. After bombings, in 1943, the church was restored. The interior has a typical gothic flavor, with a nave and two aisles separated by two rows of cylindrical pilasters. Still, some of the chapels are in Renaissance style. The church houses precious sculptures by Antonio & Giacomo Gagini and Francesco Laurana. Important are also the allegorical statues by Giacomo Serpotta, who is also author of the stucco decoration.
Church Magione is a great example of Norman architecture. It was founded in 1191 by Matteo d'Ajello and donated later to Cistercian monks. Six years later the German Emperor Henry VI gave it to the Teutonic Order, which detained it until the 15th century. Interesting is also the 12th century cloister.
Teatro Massimo - The Greatest Theatre - was opened in 1897. Closed for reconstruction from 1974 until 1997, it is now one of top tourist attractions in the city.
Teatro Politeama was built between 1867 and 1874. Nowadays the Gallery of Modern Art is housed there.
Quattro Canti is a small place at the crossing of the ancient main roads, dividing the old town into quarters.
Piazza Pretoria was built in the 16th century near Quattro Canti as place for a fountain - Fontana Pretoria.
The Cathedral has a solar observatory from 1690.
Orto Botanico, founded in 1785, is the largest botanical garden in Italy.
The Capuchin Catacombs contain many mummified corps of local nobles.
Close to the city is located Monte Pellegrino, a 600-meter high hill and one of the Sicilian attractions where tourists who stay in holiday resorts in Palermo can admire spectacular sights of the city and surroundings.