Norman Palace

Palermo, Italy

The Palazzo dei Normanni (Norman Palace) was the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination and served afterwards as the main seat of power for the subsequent rulers of Sicily. The building is the oldest royal residence in Europe; and was the private residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Sicily and the imperial seat of Frederick II and Conrad IV. The palace stands in what is the highest point of the ancient centre of the Palermo. 

The first building, the al-Qasr (in Arabic, castle or palace) is believed to have been started in the 9th century by the Emir of Palermo. Parts of this early building are still visible in the foundations and in the basements, where typical Arabian vaults are present. After the Normans conquered Sicily in 1072 and established Palermo as the capital of the new County of Sicily, the palace was chosen as the main residence of the kings. The Norman kings transformed the former Arabian palace into a multifunctional complex with both administrative and residential aims. All the buildings were linked to each other via arcades and enclosed by gardens, designed by the best gardeners of the middle east. In 1132 King Roger II added the famous Cappella Palatina to the complex.

During the reign of the Swabian emperors, the palace maintained its administrative functions, and was the centre of the Sicilian School of poetry, but was seldom used as permanent seat of power, especially during the reign of Frederick II.

The Angevin and Aragonese kings preferred other seats. The palace returned to an important administrative role in the second half of the sixteenth century, when the Spanish governors chose it as their official residence, carrying out important reconstructions, aimed at their representative needs and their military ones, with the creation of a system of bastions.

The Spanish Bourbons built additional reception rooms (la Sala Rossa, la Sala Gialla e la Sala Verde) and reconstructed the Sala d'Ercole, named for its frescos depicted the mythological hero, Hercules.

The palace contains the Cappella Palatina, by far the best example of the so-called Arab-Norman-Byzantine style that prevailed in the 12th-century Sicily. The wonderful mosaics, the wooden roof, elaborately fretted and painted, and the marble incrustation of the lower part of the walls and the floor are very fine. Of the palace itself the greater part was rebuilt and added in Aragonese times, but there are some other parts of Roger's work left, specially the hall called Sala Normanna.



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Founded: 11th century
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Italy


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Abdel Azziz Qaasim Illi (2 months ago)
Must-See in Palermo? Only one star, unfortunately, due to the disappointing visitor experience tainted by what feels like a rip-off. At 22 euros per adult, the entry fee is already steep for what's offered, made worse by the absence of any family discount. My family and I paid a whopping 106 euros for two adults and four kids, expecting more value for the money. To make matters worse, there's no audio guide provided, and even access to the toilet comes at an extra cost. This level of greediness in a museum experience is unprecedented and absolutely disappointing.
Rares Andrei Sandru (3 months ago)
The 15.5 € ticket price is a little bit too much for what this Palace is offering. The gardens are very nice, but inside the palace there is not much you can see.
Jenny May (3 months ago)
The chapel is stunning The exterior of the building is grand and impressive Book online to beat the crowds or go early; we were there for 10.30am and line medium length then by the time we left an hour later line was two to three times longer Apparently you must have ticket printed out Don’t miss the Royal gardens put the back with lovely piped music and stately trees and citrus grove with bees collecting pollen We were there August 2023
Kajetan Parzyszek (4 months ago)
TOURIST TRAP. 15 euro for a single chapel and a bit of museum (10 for just a chapel). So you basicly get to see 1/100th of the palace for a really steep price. While its beautiful its not worth the price. Just visit the free gardens. And on top of that they charge 0.5 euro for toilet, scam! Oh and the stuff is really awful and angry looking too.
Alexandru Vaideanu (7 months ago)
The palatine chapel is really nice, but the cost of the ticket (the Norman Palace, the palatine chapel and the garden) is very expensive for what you get (compared with other touristic attractions from Europe and from Italy). If you do come, there is a reduced price for 3 days of the week (can't remember which), otherwise it is really expensive and not worth the money in my opinion. In the weekend the price is still higher, because you visit the royal apartments also.
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