Palermo is full of historical buildings and many of them are part of UNESCO World Heritage sites list.
These include the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Assumption, made up of several styles superimposed over the centuries, from the Byzantine period to the Arab domination when it was also a mosque and during the Norman period when it was further modified. The result is a grand and spectacular structure, with walls and towers, sometimes resembling a castle. Inside the church, a chapel is dedicated to Santa Rosalia, the patron saint of Palermo.
The Norman Palace or Royal Palace, because it was the seat of the King of Sicily, now houses the regional assembly. Among the most important parts there are the Palatine Chapel, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, decorated with Byzantine mosaics, and the two Norman towers: the Pisana Tower, with the observatory, and the Gioaria tower.
The church of St. John of the Hermits, national monument, has a very particular structure that reminds of a mosque with red roofs as a dome, next to a Gothic bell tower, and to the Romanesque cross plan.
Among the beautiful palaces of Palermo we can find the Palazzo Abatellis, also known as Palazzo Patella, dating back to the fifteenth century and the seat of the Art Gallery dating back to the ’50s used for medieval art collections. Palazzo Chiaramonte, also called Steri, with a fortified structure in medieval style, now houses a museum located in the prisons.
The Martorana or St. Mary of the Admiral’s Church is characterized by the influence of the Albanian culture in the area, as well as in the artistic part as in language and in worship, in fact the liturgy is in that language according to the Byzantine rite for the Italo-Albanians.
The Church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo, dating back to the sixteenth century, is attached to a monastery, and was also used as a hospital. Today some rooms of the building are home to a school of music and the jazz museum.
Quattro Canti or Piazza Vigliena is an octagonal square surrounded by four buildings with rich decorations and coats of arms, built in the seventeenth century.
PIANA DEGLI ALBANESI
Piana degli Albanesi is the ancient seat of a large Italian-Albanian community, here we can find many Orthodox churches that follow the Byzantine rite and are distinguished by their cultural and architectural peculiarities. These include rural church SS. Madonna Odigitria, the Church of St. George the Great Martyr and the Cathedral of St Demetrio the Great Martyr.
In Monreale, a town founded by the Normans around the eleventh century, we can find the Cathedral of Santa Maria Nuova, decorated with wonderful Byzantine mosaics depicting the old and new testament. Next to the church there’s the beautiful Cloister surrounded by finely decorated columns.
In Cefalu we can visit the Mandralisca Museum, a foundation of Baron Mandralisca, which includes various works of art, collections of coins, books and scientific instruments of the nineteenth century. The museum is housed in what was once the home of the Baron.
In Bagheria you can see wonderful villas and palaces, including Villa Palagonia, with its sculptures in Baroque style, Villa Cattolica that houses the gallery of modern and contemporary art, and Villa Valguarnera, decorated with frescoes and paintings.