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

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Tim (8 months ago)
Definitely worth a visit! Historical and exceptional. 18€ is on the steep side for a quasi public building, but ok someone has to pay for it all. And then it’s 50 cents for the bathroom extra - micromanagement.
Claus Puggaard (9 months ago)
We really didn't know what to expect. But when in Palermo, if you want to experience something different, this could be the place. How do you explain 1500 skeletons, dressed in "the last suit", hanging on display? Creepy? No, not at all. But surely something different.
Lorna Laird (9 months ago)
Well worth the visit and long queue to get in. However if you expect to see the gardens ensure to get that on your ticket when you book. Otherwise you face another visit to booking office and another queue to get in. Chapel is exquisite.
Sune Engel Rasmussen (9 months ago)
Loved the octopus salad here but service was slow.
Joshua Formentera (10 months ago)
Another historic place not to miss in Palermo. The Norman Palace great of history, art and contemporary politics in Sicily. Inside the building the beautiful architectural design from Norman Arab and Byzantine influenced. The most interesting one to see is the church. The Palatine Chapel within inside the Norman Palace which actually most amazing to see. Highly recommended to see this historical land mark in Palermo, Sicily. Worth it.
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