Palermo founded the inventors of money: Phoenicians.
It was around the eighth century BC. The city served the Phoenicians as a trade point with the Greeks and fulfilled its role perfectly. Hence the original name of the city, which in translation meant "all-port", and in the original it read: Panormos.
In the following centuries the city came under the rule of Carthage, Romans, Vandals, Goths, Arabs, Germans, French, Spaniards ... and traces of these cultures can be found in the city to this day.
This is exactly the impression - a mixture of cultures - one finds walking around Palermo today, although the element of Arabic culture is definitely the most prevalent.
The main tourist routes are (by the standards of southern Italy) neat, but all you have to do is take a few steps to the side, enter a street, e.g. two blocks away, to notice the difference. Characteristic chaos, moderate care for the environment and rather little concern for the condition of the property, cherished by tens (or hundreds) of years ... it can be seen at first glance.
At the same time, just entering this normal, eternal zone and the character of the city's life allows you to immediately catch the atmosphere of Palermo. Admiring tourist attractions from this perspective adds flavor and allows you to dig deeper into the city.
Palermo is one of the points I developed for visiting Sicily including detailed sightseeing maps, information about attractions on the whole island with GPS coordinates for car navigation. If you want to visit Sicily, make sure to read this entry: Sicily - tourist attractions, sightseeing, monuments, map, car rental, vacation. Guide.
Palermo - sightseeing
You must spend at least 1 a day exploring Palermo and then it will be a very intense day. Creating the route to explore Palermo, I assumed that it must be reasonably independent of the place where you will stay. The city is quite large and it is difficult to create a route that would suit everyone, regardless of the place of accommodation, but I think it did quite well.
The route has the shape of two loops. Thanks to this, you can start it anywhere and end up passing the entire loop in the same place. If the route proves to be too demanding, you can shorten it by dropping the passage of a smaller loop, or shortening any of the loops. Therefore, my proposal is flexible and is a good material for my own modifications, if needed. The best starting point to visit is the point marked with the number 1 (surprising, right?)
If you sleep outside of Palermo and come to the city only to visit them during the day, I marked the free parking on the map (P1), which is closest to the starting point I recommend.
Parking GPS coordinates P1 you'll find later in the entry.
Under the map (according to the numbering on the map) you will find a brief description of all places of interest marked on the map. The first 6 attractions are very close together (only a few dozen meters away) and the numbers would overlap. So I placed them on a separate enlargement of the marked fragment of the map.
You can also open the sightseeing map below in the form active route on Google maps - [click]
1. Fontana Pretorianów (Fontana Pretoria)
38°06’55.8″N 13°21’43.5″E lub
38.115504, 13.362069 - click and route
The fountain did not immediately reach Palermo. It was created in Florence and there it also adorned the garden of Luigi de Toledo. Depicts twelve Olympians, mythological characters and animals. She was famous for the fact that the figures are naked and extremely accurately reproduce all the anatomical details of the body.
In Florence, she stood for 19 years, but the debts that Luigi de Toledo fell forced him to sell the fountain. The city of Palermo bought her. She arrived in the city of 26 in May 1574 in 644 parts and (as it turned out later) was incomplete. Several sculptures were missing (probably Luigi de Toledo kept them), and several others were damaged in transport.
The reassembly of the fountain required several changes. The works lasted for the next 7 years and it was necessary to demolish several buildings to make room for it. Unfortunately, despite the efforts made, by the 18th and 19th centuries the fountain was a symbol of the corruption of the city and the authorities of Palermo. In addition, due to the naked figures, the square where the fountain is located gained an unofficial name "Piazza della Vergogna"I.e. Shame Square.
In 2003, the fountain was thoroughly restored, but most of the anatomical details were quickly destroyed again. Nuns living in the vicinity are suspected of causing damage, but there is no certainty about that tego
Despite the partial deficiencies, the fountain still enjoys great interest and arouses the emotions of visitors. In addition, it is simply one of the most beautiful fountains that can be admired in Europe and is the main landmark of the city.
2. Palace of Pretorians (Palazzo Pretorio)
38°06’54.5″N 13°21’44.1″E lub
38.115138, 13.362260 - click and route
Built in the fourteenth century, the palace was built for the need to create a place suitable for urban gatherings. Today it serves as the seat of the municipality of Palermo and meetings of the City Council are held in it. Under the palace and partly under Pretorianów Square there is an anti-aircraft shelter from World War II, which can be accessed from the porter's duty room 🙂
3. Bellini Square (Piazza Bellini)
38°06’53.4″N 13°21’43.8″E lub
38.114839, 13.362167 - click and route
A square with two churches inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (commonly known as "La Martorana") and San Cataldo. The square can be reached from the Praetorian Fountain, walking around the building of the Praetorian Palace (now the seat of the municipality of Palermo). The Praetorian Palace is located exactly between Piazza Bellini and the fountain.
4. Church of San Cataldo
38°06’53.2″N 13°21’44.7″E lub
38.114776, 13.362422 - click and route
A monument of Arab-Norman architecture from the 12th century, located on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It was an active temple until the end of the 18th century, when it was closed and began to function as a post office. Of course, today it no longer fulfills this function.
From 1937, the temple belongs to the Knight's Order of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.
5. La Martorana Church (officially the Church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio)
38°06’53.2″N 13°21’46.6″E lub
38.114771, 13.362955 - click and route
The second of the churches at Bellini Square is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Built in the 12th century, it is still an active temple. The interior of the church is richly decorated with Byzantine mosaics. In the picture above, visible to the left of the San Cataldo church.
6. Quattro Canti Square (officially Piazza Vigliena)
38°06’56.5″N 13°21’41.2″E lub
38.115698, 13.361452 - click and route
The square was built in the 17th century and is the intersection of two main streets of the city dividing the city into four historic districts. The entire intersection is surrounded by four characteristic palaces with concave elevations. The facades in each of the palaces are organized according to an identical scheme. At the lowest level of each building there is a sculpture symbolizing one of the seasons. On the first level there are statues of the four kings of Sicily, and on the second level there are sculptures of virgins, saint patrons of Sicily.
There is heavy traffic through the intersection, so be careful when visiting. The air here is thick with exhaust gases.
7. Massimo Theater (Teatro Massimo)
38°07’14.2″N 13°21’27.5″E lub
38.120602, 13.357640 - click and route
Built in the nineteenth century, the opera theater is the largest building of this type in Italy and the third largest in Europe. It is known for its perfect, one of the best acoustics in the world.
On the stairs of Teatro Massimo, the final scene of Godfather III was shot, in which the daughter of Michael Corleone dies.
8. Zisa Castle (Castello della Zisa)
38°06’59.6″N 13°20’28.2″E lub
38.116544, 13.341152 - click and route
Built at the end of the XNUMXth century - originally as a palace for kings - it was converted into a fortress in the late Middle Ages. It is a unique example of Norman art and architecture as well as Arab decorations. The building uses a unique and highly complex ventilation system in the form of special ventilation pipes, layout of rooms and external windows. Even the appropriate location and orientation of the building favoring the use of natural air movements from the sea is subject to ventilation.
9. Catacombs of the Capuchins in Palermo (Catacombe dei Cappuccini)
38°06’42.7″N 13°20’21.2″E lub
38.111847, 13.339227 - click and route
That's it extremely macabre and shocking place. I do not recommend visiting sensitive people and children. However, if you decide to visit the catacombs, please remember that you walk among the real human corpses who deserve respect.
Originally, only dead Capuchins from the local monastery were placed in the catacombs. In time, however, lay people (well-off residents of the city) were also allowed to be buried. The catacombs began to grow rapidly. It was decided then that the mummification process itself should be more closely countered. An appropriate mummification procedure has been developed. In the first step, the body was placed in dry, tight rooms with good air circulation (several in one room). During 8-10, the months were completely dry. Then they were washed with vinegar, dressed in official clothes and placed in one of the corridors in a standing, lying position or hung on the wall, by sex and social position. So you can see professors, merchants, townspeople, virgins who have not married yet (in wedding dresses), entire families, children ...
In total, about 8000 bodies rest in the catacombs. The first were placed there in the 16th century, and the last (2 summer Rosalia Lombardo) in the 20 of the 20th century.
10. Norman Palace (Palazzo dei Normanni) and Palatine Chapel (Cappella Palatina)
38°06’41.2″N 13°21’13.1″E lub
38.111432, 13.353633 - click and route
The palace, built in the 9th century, served as the royal seat and is the oldest royal residence in Europe. The external appearance may not be the most impressive, but the real treasures are hidden inside. The most spectacular of them are the Palatine Chapel (inscribed on the UNESCO list) and royal apartments.
The extremely impressive decorations of the chapel in the form of mosaics make a huge impression. It's hard to decide what to look at first.
Tourist traffic is limited and a limited number of people can stay in the chapel at one time, so queues form in the season to enter. It is worth coming here as early as possible.
The chapel and apartments are visited separately and entry is payable separately.
The Sicilian parliament is currently meeting from the Norman Palace.
11. Bonanno Park (Villa Bonanno)
38°06’45.0″N 13°21’18.3″E lub
38.112499, 13.355080 - click and route
The historic square in front of the Norman Palace rebuilt and renovated in the 2013 year. You will find a bit of shade and rest in the shade of huge palm trees and the remains of two Roman patrician houses discovered in the 19th century.
12. Palermo Cathedral (Cattedrale di Palermo)
38°06’49.5″N 13°21’22.2″E lub
38.113755, 13.356154 - click and route
A huge, monumental building. Another of the sights of Palermo inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List. Its construction took over 120 years (from 1069 to 1190). It was then repeatedly expanded, rebuilt, supplemented and renovated. For this reason, it combines many architectural styles. Emperor Frederick II Hohenstauf is buried there, also known as the King of the Romans (German) from 1212, the Prince of Swabia from 1212 to 1216 (as Frederick VII), the Holy Roman Emperor from 1220 and King of Jerusalem from 1225 to 1228 (as Frederick I).
13. Kalsa - the historic district of Palermo
38°06’50.8″N 13°21’59.5″E lub
38.114110, 13.366518 - click and route
Historic district of Palermo. In ancient times, most of the area of the district was still under water. Hannibal and Hamilcar docked their ships here, preparing to attack the Greek city of Himera.
The first buildings of the district appeared only in the ninth century. As Al-Khalesa, it was one of the first Arab settlements in Europe.
During World War II, it was heavily bombed and abandoned for decades. For many years, the ruins were inhabited only by wild tenants and illegal settlers.
Currently, after revitalization, there are art galleries and several restored churches, palaces and tourist attractions.
14. Church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo
38°06’52.6″N 13°22’17.3″E lub
38.114620, 13.371462 - click and route
One of the monuments located in the Kalsa district. The construction of the church began in 1509 and was never completed. It was interrupted 1535 year when, due to the growing Turkish threat, the money allocated for the church was directed to strengthen the city. Currently, music and theater outdoor events take place here (the church has no roof).
38°07’08.6″N 13°22’05.5″E lub
38.119061, 13.368182 - click and route
A pleasant place to breathe after an eventful day. If anyone likes to stroll among the yachts in a cool breeze from the sea, I recommend it.
16.Bazar Vucciria (Vucciria market)
38°07’02.9″N 13°21’49.3″E lub
38.117460, 13.363703 - click and route
Don't let the name fool you !!! She only says half about this place.
Vucciria is a bazaar from morning to 13.00. Fish, meat, vegetables and fruit ... all the best.
The real "ride" starts here tonight. Then it begins to reign here street food watered with cool drinks. You will love this place! It is worth fasting during the day and in the evening you have room for everything here. The more space the better. Group food and drink turns into a big party and you want time to stop. A relentless wave of pleasure flows into your stomach and you want more and more ...
Do not miss this opportunity, the more that prices are attractive even for our wallets.
Palermo - car rental
I have included everything about renting a car in Palermo in a separate entry: Sicily: Palermo, Catania, Trapani - rent a car without a credit card and a deposit? How do I rent a car in Sicily?
You will find everything you need to choose the best offer.
Read, search, choose and drive!
Palermo - parking lots and parking
Parking in Palermo generally takes place on the streets. Sometimes you have to turn around a bit to find a free place. The coordinates of the free car park, which is located close to the sightseeing route and is a convenient place to leave the car, please find below. In the summer tourist season, there may be no place for it and we are left wandering around the streets in search of a free parking patch.
Palermo - Parking, GPS:
38°07’14.1″N 13°21’51.5″E lub
38.120595, 13.364307 - click and route
Palermo - cheap hotels and accommodation
Accommodation in Palermo is not very expensive. You will find comfortable accommodation for 2 people at a price even well below PLN 200 (examples of such accommodation below - all are cheaper than PLN 150 !!!).
Hotels for a good price in Palermo can be found using the rules that I described in detail in the entry: Cheap hotels on Booking? Of course! Check how to find comfortable and cheap accommodation! Barcelona, Rome, Paris ... wherever you want!
If you already know the rules for searching the best offers, then in the search engine below set the dates you are interested in and click "Search".
You will get the result with accommodation suggestions for Palermo. Then proceed exactly as I explained in the post to which I gave the link above.
Palermo - interesting accommodation
Price in September 2019 = PLN 132 for the 2 room
Price in September 2019 = 141 PLN for Deluxe 2 roomin the historical district of Kalsa
Price in September 2019 = PLN 148 for the 2 room
Price: 220 PLN for 2 people / night, in September 2020
Palermo - cheap flights
You will fly to Palermo cheap.
Find cheap flights to Palermo easily thanks cheap flights search engine - [click] following the instructions in the entry: Cheap flights. How to search for cheap flights and cheap flights? [GUIDE]
Following exactly these rules, I found prices at the time of writing this article:
- departing from Poland: from 157 PLN up to PLN 304 for the ticket
- flying out of Germany from 113 PLN up to PLN 174 for the ticket
Screenshots of search results can be seen in the pictures below.
Finally, let me just add that if I were to recommend a season of the year when it is best to visit Palermo and Sicily, it would be any season except ... summer! Yes Yes! Summer is the worst. Heat, crowds of tourists and the most expensive (though not very expensive at all). But in autumn, winter and spring: story!
We were in winter (February) and the 18 temperature + sun was perfect (as seen in the pictures). Comfortably walked and explored, no parking problems and queues for attractions.
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