Palazzo dei Normanni Palermo (and Cappella Palatina)

Palazzo dei Normanni Palermo

The Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo is the oldest royal residence in Europe. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the current provincial seat. The main attraction is the Cappella Palatina.

Palazzo dei Normanni Palermo

Address, opening times and admission

Address: Piazza del Parlamento, 1 – Palermo. However, the tourist entrance is at Piazza Indipendenza. Telephone: (+39) 091 7055611. Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 08.30 to 14.30; Friday and Saturday from 08.30 to 16.30; Sunday from 08.30 to 09.30 and from 11.30 to 00.30. Admission fee: 15.50 Euro. (On Tuesdays and Thursdays the royal halls cannot be visited).

History and description

In the past, the Palazzo dei Normanni served as the residence of the heads of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and later as the imperial seat of Frederick II and Corrado IV.

It was built on the site of the first settlements that led to the foundation of the city. This can be deduced from ruins found under the palace.

The western wing of the building is used by the Italian army.

What to see

Highlights are the Cortile Maqueda, with Renaissance loggias, and the Cortile della Fontana. These courtyards are connected by monumental staircases.

From the central square one can visit the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church.

The main attraction is the Cappella Palatina on the second floor, built in 1132 and consecrated in 1140. This chapel is actually a three-floor basilica dedicated to the Apostle Paul. It was commissioned by Ruggero II to serve as the church of the royal family. The dome, transept and apse are decorated with Byzantine mosaics. These depict “Christ Pantocrator,” the “Evangelists” and various Biblical events. The Galleria Palatina was, after the 2002 earthquake, not accessible for six years.

Above the Galleria Palatina are the royal rooms, with the Hall of Hercules, the Hall of the Viceroy, the Hall of the Winds, and the Hall of Pompeii.

Of the four towers, only two remain standing in their entirety. These are the Torre Pisana and the Torre del Tesoro. The latter is also known as Torre Gioaria. The Sala Ruggero is in the Torre Pisana and is also decorated with Byzantine mosaics. What is unusual is that these have profane themes. Little remains of the Torre Greca.

Part of the palace basement is taken up by the Sale Duca di Montalto. This was originally an ammunition depot, but when the Bourbons took over the palace it was converted into a stable. Today, these halls are used as exhibition spaces.

The artworks on display are mostly from the 19th and 20th centuries. Artists represented include Francesco Lojacono, Antonino Leto, Joan Mirò and Renato Guttuso.

Palazzo dei Normanni, Palermo

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