Palermo is the capital city of Sicily, a role it took from Syracuse when under Muslim rule around 878 AD. Founded by Phoenicians, it is a port, like all the major Sicilian cities and economic centers, and is located on the north-western part of the island.
It is in a fine naturally protected setting on the slopes of Monte Pellegrino with the attractive harbour below. This location, combined with the rich architectural heritage, make palermo an absolute highlight of a visit to Sicily
Palermo holds a unique place amid cities of the world due to its rich cultural and historical heritage, and also its gastronomy. Due to the historical political conflicts in Sicily, the architecture in Palermo is a mix of Arab, Byzantine, Roman, Norman and modern.
The centre of the city is a fascinating mix of grand palaces, churches and other fine buildings interspersed with narrow streets of crumbling yet beautiful ancient houses - these are as much a highlight of a visit as the more impressive monuments, and what gives Palermo its own very personal character.
Among the historical landmarks of the city, the Palermo Cathedral holds the central position as in the other two major Sicilian cities, Syracuse and Messina. Other important landmarks include Chiesa della Martorana, San Cataldo’s Church, the Capella Palatina in the Palazzo dei Normanni, San Giuseppe dei Teatini and the San Giovanni degli Eremiti, which is a blend of Gothic and Arab architecture.
The Archaeological Museum and the Palazzo Abatellis Art Museum are very useful to gain an insight on the history and culture of the city and the region.
Palermo also features important cultural buildings like the Teatro Messimo Opera House, which has been renovated recently and is an active cultural center of the city. Other sites of interest in Palermo are the Palermo Botanical Gardens, the Capuchin Catacombs (a spooky 'display' of long mummified monks) and the panoramic views of the city from the nearby Monte Pellegrino.
Other Palermo information
The feast day of Saint Rosalia, the patron saint of the city, is celebrated on July 15.
Beaches near Palermo include Mondello, which is a very popular beach for summer holidays, Arnella, Cefalu, Pollina, Salinelle and Lascari. On your visit to Palermo, don’t forget to try the local gastronomy to complete the experience of your Sicilian holiday.