15 best things to do in Palermo: the attraction of sicilian capital

Palermo is a beautiful city located in the southern part of Italy, on the island of Sicily. It is the capital of the autonomous region of Sicily and is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture. Go to discover the best things of the pearl of Mediterraneo!

1. Palermo Cathedral: unbelievable attraction of Sicily

Palermo Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, is an incredible attraction in Sicily. With a rich history dating back over 800 years, it stands as a testament to the artistic and architectural brilliance of the region.

The cathedral is a blend of various architectural styles, including Norman, Gothic, and Baroque, reflecting the different influences the island has experienced throughout the centuries. The exterior facade is striking, adorned with intricate carvings, statues, and vibrant mosaics. The golden-hued stone glows in the Sicilian sunlight, making it truly a sight to behold.
Inside, visitors are greeted with a breathtaking interior that showcases a harmonious blend of styles. From Byzantine mosaics to elegant marble sculptures, each detail tells a story of the cathedral’s past. The highlight is the main altar, which is embellished with valuable gold and silver ornaments, as well as precious gems.

One of the most remarkable features of Palermo Cathedral is the Chapel of Santa Rosalia, the patron saint of the city. This small chapel, located inside the cathedral, is adorned with stunning 18th-century frescoes and houses the remains of the saint herself. It is a place of pilgrimage for many believers and a peaceful spot for visitors to reflect and admire the exquisite artistry.

Another notable attraction within the cathedral is the Royal Tombs. These royal burial chambers house the final resting places of Norman kings and other notable figures from Sicilian history. The tombs are adorned with intricate carvings and decorations, showcasing the skilled craftsmanship of the period.
In addition to its historical and artistic significance, Palermo Cathedral also offers panoramic views of the city from its rooftop. Visitors can climb to the top and enjoy a breathtaking vista of Palermo’s streets, rooftops, and surrounding mountains. It is a unique and unforgettable experience that allows visitors to see the city from a different perspective.
Overall, Palermo Cathedral is a true gem of Sicily. Its stunning architecture, rich history, and artistic treasures make it a must-visit attraction for anyone exploring the island. Whether you are interested in art, history, or simply want to admire the beauty of this remarkable cathedral, a visit to Palermo Cathedral is sure to leave you in awe.

2. Capuchin Catacombs: inevitable in a day trip around Palermo

The Capuchin Catacombs are definitely an intriguing and historically significant destination to consider when planning a day trip around Palermo. The catacombs are an underground burial site that dates back to the 16th century and houses over 8,000 mummified bodies.
Located in the basement of the Capuchin Monastery, the catacombs offer a unique insight into Sicily’s past and provide a somewhat eerie yet fascinating experience. Walking through the catacombs, visitors can see preserved bodies dressed in their original clothing, along with various objects and accessories that were placed with them during the embalming process.

While visiting the catacombs, it is important to be respectful and mindful of the significance of the site. The atmosphere might be unsettling for some visitors, as the catacombs can be quite macabre in nature. However, for those interested in history, culture, and anthropology, it is an absolute must-visit.
In conclusion, the Capuchin Catacombs should be included as an essential part of a day trip around Palermo for those with a keen interest in history and a desire to explore Sicily’s unique cultural heritage. However, it is essential to plan the visit with sensitivity and respect for the deceased.

3. Teatro Massimo: a walk in is a thing to do in Palermo

Visiting the Teatro Massimo is indeed a popular thing to do in Palermo. It is one of the largest opera houses in Europe and an iconic symbol of the city. Taking a walk in the area surrounding the Teatro Massimo allows visitors to admire its magnificent architecture and grandeur from the outside. Additionally, the theater often hosts various cultural events, performances, and guided tours that provide a deeper understanding of its history and significance.

4. Quattro Canti: one of best things of visit Palermo

Quattro Canti, also known as Piazza Vigliena, is a famous square located in the heart of Palermo. It is considered one of the best things to visit in Palermo due to its unique architectural beauty and historical significance.
The square was designed in the early 17th century by the architect Giulio Lasso, and it represents the intersection of the two main streets of Palermo, Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The name “Quattro Canti” translates to “Four Corners” in English, which refers to the four identical Baroque buildings that stand on each corner of the square.
Each building is adorned with beautiful statues and fountains, representing the four seasons, the four Spanish kings of Sicily, and the patron saints of Palermo. The intricate decorations and detailed carvings make Quattro Canti a true visual spectacle.

The square is not only a remarkable architectural gem but also holds great historical significance, as it has witnessed many important historical events and acts as a symbol of Palermo’s rich cultural heritage. It is also a major meeting point within the city and a vibrant hub of activity.
Visiting Quattro Canti allows you to immerse yourself in Palermo’s history, admire its outstanding architecture, and experience the lively atmosphere of this bustling square. It is particularly enchanting during the evening when the buildings are beautifully lit up, enhancing its grandeur.
Overall, Quattro Canti is a must-see attraction when visiting Palermo, offering a unique glimpse into the city’s past and captivating visitors with its exceptional beauty.

5. Fontana Pretoria and Piazza Pretoria

Fontana Pretoria and Piazza Pretoria are two historical landmarks located in the heart of Palermo, Sicily, Italy.
Fontana Pretoria, also known as the Fountain of Shame, is a beautiful Renaissance-style fountain located in Piazza Pretoria. It was built in 1554 by the Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani and was originally commissioned for a garden in Florence. However, in 1574, it was dismantled and transported to Palermo. The fountain is composed of several tiers and adorned with an array of mythological figures, including nymphs, satyrs, and mermaids. The centerpiece of the fountain is the figure of the goddess Diana, who stands on top of a basin surrounded by smaller basins.
Piazza Pretoria, on the other hand, is a lively square that surrounds the Fontana Pretoria. The square is also known as Piazza della Vergogna, which translates to “Square of Shame”, a name derived from the scandalous and explicit nature of the figures on the fountain. The square is characterized by its Baroque architecture and is surrounded by historic buildings, including the Palermo City Hall (Palazzo delle Aquile) and the Church of Santa Caterina. It is a popular gathering place for both locals and tourists, who come to admire the fountain and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of the square.

Both Fontana Pretoria and Piazza Pretoria are significant landmarks in Palermo, representing the city’s rich history and artistic heritage. They are must-visit attractions for anyone exploring the capital of Sicily.

6. San Giovanni degli Eremiti

San Giovanni degli Eremiti is a historic church located in Palermo. It was originally built in the 6th century as a mosque during the Arab rule of the island. In the 12th century, it was converted into a Christian church when the Normans conquered Sicily.

The architecture of San Giovanni degli Eremiti is a unique blend of Islamic and Norman styles. The church consists of five red domes, which are characteristic of Islamic architecture, and a bell tower added later by the Normans. The interior of the church is simple yet beautiful, with columns and arches reflecting both the influences of the Arab and Norman cultures.

Surrounded by a lush garden, San Giovanni degli Eremiti provides a serene and peaceful atmosphere for visitors. The garden is filled with citrus trees and colorful flowers, creating a beautiful setting for photography and relaxation.
San Giovanni degli Eremiti is not only a popular tourist attraction but also a functioning church. It holds regular masses and religious ceremonies, attracting locals and tourists alike. The church is also known for its peaceful cloisters, where monks used to reside.
Overall, San Giovanni degli Eremiti is a significant architectural and historical landmark in Palermo, showcasing the cultural fusion of the Arab and Norman civilizations, and offering visitors a unique experience in discovering the rich heritage of Sicily.

7. Food Tour: things to do around? Eat the original sicilian street food!

Sicilian street food is known for its delicious flavors and intricate recipes. Here are some must-try original Sicilian street foods:

  1. Arancini: These are deep-fried rice balls stuffed with various fillings like ragu (meat sauce), mozzarella, spinach, or pistachio. They are a popular street food snack.
  2. Panelle: Made from chickpea flour, panelle is deep-fried until crispy. It is often served in a sandwich known as “pane con panelle” with a sprinkle of lemon juice and some salt.
  3. Sfincione: This is Sicilian-style pizza, typically topped with tomato sauce, onions, anchovies, oregano, and breadcrumbs. It has a thick, fluffy crust and is a favorite amongst locals.
  4. Cipollina: Also known as cipolline, these are small, savory fried onions. They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, making them a delightful treat.
  5. Stigghiola: This street food delicacy consists of grilled or barbecued skewers made from lamb or veal intestines. They are often marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley before being cooked.
  6. Cannoli: A famous Sicilian dessert, cannoli are crispy pastry tubes filled with a sweet ricotta cheese filling. They are often dusted with powdered sugar and topped with chopped pistachios or chocolate chips.
  7. Granita: A refreshing frozen dessert, granita is made from sweetened water flavored with various fruits or coffee. It is served with a brioche bun or alone, making it a perfect treat during the hot Sicilian summers.
  8. Sfincie: These are delicious Sicilian spinach and cheese turnovers. They are made with a thin pastry filled with a mixture of spinach, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and eggs

.Make sure to try these original Sicilian street foods when visiting Sicily to experience the authentic flavors of the region.

8. Norman Palace: the house of king of Sicily

The Norman Palace, also known as the Royal Palace or Palazzo dei Normanni in Italian, is a historic palace located in Palermo. It has served as the official residence of the kings of Sicily since the 12th century.

The palace’s construction began in the 9th century during the Arab rule of Sicily and was subsequently expanded and renovated by the Norman kings who conquered the island in the 11th century. The Normans, under the leadership of King Roger II, transformed the palace into a magnificent and imposing structure.
The palace is renowned for its exquisite blend of architectural styles, reflecting the diverse influences of the various civilizations that ruled over Sicily. The Arab influence is evident in the arches, decorative motifs, and mosaics found throughout the palace. The Norman rulers added their own distinctive elements, including Gothic and Byzantine features, further enhancing the palace’s grandeur.

One of the most famous features of the Norman Palace is the Palatine Chapel, a small private chapel commissioned by King Roger II. The chapel is a stunning example of Byzantine mosaics, depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments and lavishly decorated with gold leaf and precious stones.

In addition to its architectural and artistic significance, the Norman Palace also played a vital role in the political history of Sicily. It served as the seat of power for the Sicilian monarchy and witnessed the coronation ceremonies and royal weddings of the kings and queens.
Today, the Norman Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses the regional parliament of Sicily. It also contains the Sicilian Parliament Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient manuscripts and historical documents.
Visitors to the Norman Palace can explore its various sections, including the Palatine Chapel, the Royal Apartments, and the Hall of Mirror. The palace offers a fascinating journey through Sicily’s rich history and architectural splendor, making it a must-visit destination for history and culture enthusiasts.

9. Catch a Puppet Opera at Opera dei Pupi

Opera dei Pupi is a traditional form of puppet theater that originated in Sicily. It combines elements of opera, drama, and puppetry to create a unique and entertaining art form. The puppets used in Opera dei Pupi are large and elaborately designed, often depicting characters from famous Italian literary works like the Orlando Furioso and the Gerusalemme Liberata.

To catch a Puppet Opera performance at Opera dei Pupi, you can visit one of the many theaters or puppet workshops in Sicily that specialize in this art form. Some popular locations include Palermo, Catania, and Syracuse.

In Palermo, you can visit the Museo Internazionale delle Marionette, which has a dedicated theater for Puppet Opera performances. The museum also offers workshops and demonstrations on the history and techniques of Opera dei Pupi.

Attending a Puppet Opera performance at Opera dei Pupi is a rare opportunity to experience a traditional and unique form of entertainment. The elaborate puppets, lively performances, and captivating stories make it a memorable event for both adults and children. So, if you find yourself in Sicily, be sure to catch a Puppet Opera show at one of the venues mentioned above for an unforgettable cultural experience.

10. Summer: best time to visit Mondello

The best time to visit Mondello is typically during the summer months, from June to August. During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, making it ideal for enjoying the beach and outdoor activities. The water is also at its warmest, perfect for swimming and water sports.

Additionally, summer brings various events and festivals to Mondello, providing a vibrant and lively atmosphere for visitors to enjoy.

11. Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio or La Martorana Church

Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, also known as La Martorana Church, is a historic church located in Palermo. It was built in the 12th century by Admiral George of Antioch, who intended it to serve as a family chapel. The church combines elements of Byzantine, Norman, and Arab architecture, making it a unique and stunning architectural masterpiece.

One of the most notable features of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio is its beautiful mosaics. The interior is adorned with intricate Byzantine-style mosaics depicting scenes from the Bible, saints, and angels. These mosaics were added in the 12th and 13th centuries and have survived remarkably well, representing some of the finest examples of medieval mosaic art in Sicily.

The church’s exterior is equally impressive, with its distinctive Norman-Arabic architecture. The main entrance features a gorgeous arched portal decorated with intricate stone carvings and marble inlays, showcasing the skilled craftsmanship of the Arab artisans who worked on the church.

Over the centuries, La Martorana Church underwent several restorations and additions, but it has managed to preserve its original character and charm. Today, it continues to be an active place of worship, and visitors from around the world come to marvel at its beauty.

In addition to its architectural and artistic significance, Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio holds cultural importance as well. It serves as a symbol of the multicultural history of Sicily, reflecting the diverse influences of Byzantine, Norman, and Arab cultures that shaped the island’s heritage.
Visiting Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio allows travelers to immerse themselves in the rich history and art of Sicily. Its stunning mosaics, unique architectural style, and cultural significance make it a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Palermo.

12. Palazzo Conte Federico Museum

The Palazzo Conte Federico Museum, also known as the Federico Palace Museum, is located in the historic center of Palermo. It is housed in the 18th-century Palazzo Federico, which is the ancestral home of the aristocratic Federico family.

The museum displays a wide range of artifacts, artworks, and historical objects that showcase the history and culture of Sicily and the Federico family. It features various rooms and halls that are beautifully decorated with frescoes, stuccoes, and period furniture.

One of the highlights of the museum is the collection of medieval and Renaissance armors and weaponry. Visitors can admire suits of armor that once belonged to knights and nobles, along with swords, crossbows, and other military artifacts.

The museum also exhibits a significant collection of historic documents, manuscripts, and books, providing insight into the history and literary heritage of Sicily.

The library within the museum holds over 5,000 volumes, including ancient texts and rare editions.
Visitors can also explore the private rooms of the Federico family, including the grand ballroom, the chapel, and the noble apartments. These areas are adorned with beautiful frescoes and furnishings, giving visitors a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the noble family.

Overall, the Palazzo Conte Federico Museum offers a fascinating journey through Sicilian history, art, and culture, providing an enriching experience for visitors interested in exploring the heritage of the Federico family and the region of Palermo.

13. Palazzo Steri and Palazzo Chiaromonte

Palazzo Steri and Palazzo Chiaromonte are both historic buildings located in Palermo, Italy.

Palazzo Steri, also known as Palazzo Chiaramonte, is a 14th-century palace that was originally the residence of the powerful Chiaramonte family. It later served as a prison, and today it houses the Rectorate and administrative offices of the University of Palermo. The palace is known for its impressive architecture, including a Gothic entrance and a Renaissance courtyard.

Palazzo Chiaromonte, also known as Palazzo Abatellis, is another historic palace in Palermo. It was built in the late 15th century and was the residence of the Abatellis family. The palace is particularly famous for housing the Regional Gallery of Sicily, which showcases a collection of art from Sicilian artists, including Antonello da Messina’s renowned painting “Annunciation.”

Both palaces are popular tourist attractions and offer visitors a glimpse into the rich history and art of Palermo.

14. Giardino Garibaldi Palermo Giardino

Garibaldi is a public park located in the heart of Palermo. It is named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, a renowned Italian general and national hero.
The park features beautiful green spaces with a variety of trees, flowers, and plants. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to relax and enjoy nature in the bustling city.

The park also has several attractions and amenities, including a playground for children, a small lake with ducks and swans, and a café where visitors can grab ia bite to eat or enjoy a refreshing drink.
n addition, Giardino Garibaldi often hosts events and concerts throughout the year, making it a vibrant and lively place to visit. It is a great place to take a leisurely stroll, have a picnic, or simply unwind in a peaceful setting.

Surrounded by historic buildings and picturesque streets, the park provides a serene oasis in the midst of Palermo’s urban landscape. It is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and those looking for a moment of tranquility in the city.

15. La Vucciria and Ballarò Markets

La Vucciria and Ballarò are two well-known markets in Palermo, Sicily.

La Vucciria Market is located in the historic center of Palermo and has a long history dating back to the 16th century. It is a vibrant, bustling market where you can find a wide variety of goods. From fresh fruits and vegetables, to seafood, meat, cheeses, and specialty Sicilian products, La Vucciria is a food lover’s paradise. In addition to food, you can also find clothing, household items, and other miscellaneous items.

Ballarò Market is another famous market in Palermo, located in the neighborhood of Albergheria. It is one of the oldest markets in the city and is known for its lively atmosphere. The market is filled with numerous stalls selling fresh produce, fish, meat, and cheese. There are also stands offering street food, such as arancini (fried rice balls), panelle (chickpea fritters), and sfincione (Sicilian pizza). In addition to the food stalls, you can also find vendors selling clothing, shoes, and other household items.

Both La Vucciria and Ballarò markets are must-visit destinations for tourists and locals alike. They provide a unique insight into the local culture and offer the opportunity to taste traditional Sicilian flavors. The markets are open from early morning until late afternoon, and visiting them is a great way to experience the vibrant and authentic atmosphere of Palermo.

And so..

There are many reasons to enjoy Palermo. Here are a few:

  • Historical and cultural attractions: Palermo is rich in history and culture, with numerous architectural marvels such as the Palermo Cathedral, Norman Palace, and Quattro Canti. The city also has several museums, showcasing artworks and artifacts from different periods.
  • Vibrant street markets: Palermo is known for its bustling markets, such as Vucciria and Ballarò, where you can taste authentic Sicilian street food, buy local produce, and find unique souvenirs.
  • Stunning coastline: Palermo is located on the northern coast of Sicily, offering access to beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. You can relax on the sandy shores or engage in exciting water sports activities.
  • Delicious cuisine: Sicilian cuisine is famous worldwide, and Palermo is a great place to indulge in its flavors. From mouth-watering street snacks like arancini and panelle to traditional dishes like pasta alla Norma and cannoli, there is something to satisfy every palate.
  • Lively nightlife: Palermo comes alive at night, with numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues. You can enjoy a night out, sipping cocktails, dancing to local tunes, and immersing yourself in the city’s vibrant nightlife scene.

Overall, Palermo offers a perfect blend of history, culture, stunning landscapes, delicious food, and lively entertainment, making it a city worth exploring and enjoying. What are you waiting for?

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