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Things to do in Palermo

Tips on the five places to visit on a weekend in Palermo.

Palermo is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. What makes it so special are the different inhabitants that have passed through it throughout history: Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, French, and Spanish. Each of them left indelible marks; the evidence is in its urbanism where Arab domes, baroque churches, Art Nouveau buildings, neoclassical and 18th-century theaters coexist in harmony, as well as markets similar to the Arab souks - What are the best things to do in Palermo?

1) Norman Palace and Palatine Chapel: In Parliament Square, you can see one of the most visited buildings in Sicily: the Norman Palace or Palazzo Reale, a Unesco heritage site, and since 1947 the seat of the Sicilian regional assembly. It is the oldest royal building in Europe, home to the kings of the Kingdom of Sicily. Built by the Arabs and later expanded by the Swabians, who made it their center of power. Next to the Palace is the Palatine Chapel, the church of the royal family, where you can admire the splendid Byzantine mosaics considered the most beautiful in Sicily.

2) The Ballarò Market: The Ballarò market is a must-see. In this magical place, you can breathe the city's popular dimension. Ballarò is the oldest of the four historical markets (which are Vucciria, Capo, Lattarini and Ballarò). It sold fine meats, fish, and spices in the Middle Ages, coming from the East with caravans. Today it is an outdoor store where you can find local specialties, but not only. Here you can taste the famous Sicilian street food. One above all is the "pani ca meusa", a sandwich made of fried beef spleen served with a slice of fresh Sicilian lemon and perhaps some grated local caciocavallo cheese, a specialty not to miss!

3) Palermo's Square of Shame: Piazza Pretoria, also known as the square of Shame, is located in the historic center of Palermo. You will find the splendid Fountain of Shame, named like that by the people of Palermo because of its nude statues, placed in front of the monastery of the cloistered nuns of Santa Caterina. The square was long considered a symbol of malpractice, that scandalized nuns deprived the statues of their genitalia. One, in particular, depicts a woman voluptuously abandoned to a horse. According to legend, it would be the Queen of Naples Juana de Anjou, known for her many equivocal stories.

4) Teatro Massimo of Palermo: Also worth visiting is the 19th-century "Teatro Massimo" the largest opera house in Italy and the third-largest in Europe after the Paris Opera and the Vienna State Opera. The exterior is characterized by a majestic neoclassical entrance, reminiscent of Greek temples, while the interior surprises with the splendor of its decorations and the perfect acoustics.

5) The church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio (La Martorana): Palermo's Cathedral is also worth a visit: the church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, built-in 1143 and known as the Martorana Church. Despite the 16th and 17th centuries interventions, the church's architecture preserves the Arab-Norman style and amazes everyone with its mosaics, among the oldest in the entire region. The axis of all the mosaic decoration is the image of Christ Pantocrator surrounded by archangels, apostles, saints, and prophets. Coming full circle with the mosaics of the Nativity of Jesus, the Dormition of the Mother of God, the Annunciation, and the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

Enjoy your ferry trip to Palermo with Seafy's Wi-Fi!