Castello della Zisa

Palermo, Italy

The Zisa is a castle in the western part of Palermo. It is included in the UNESCO Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale World Heritage Site.

The construction was begun in the 12th century by Arabian craftsmen for king William I of Sicily , and completed by his son William II. The edifice had been conceived as summer residence for the Norman kings, as a part of the large hunting resort known as Genoardo. that included also the Cuba Sottana, the Cuba Soprana and the Uscibene palace.

The Zisa is clearly inspired by Moorish architecture. The name Zisa itself derives from the Arab term al-Azīz, meaning 'dear' or 'splendid'. The same word, in Naskh script, is impressed in the entrance, according to the usual habit for the main Islamic edifices of the time.

In the 14th century merlons were added, by partly destroying the Arab inscription (in Kufic characters) which embellished the upper part of the edifice. More substantial modifications were introduced in the 17th century, when the Zisa, reduced to very poor conditions, was purchased by Giovanni di Sandoval e Platamone. The latter's marble coat of arms with two lions can be seen over the entrance fornix. Several rooms of the interior were modified and others added on the ceiling, a great stair was built, as well as new external windows.

From 1808 to the 1950s the building was used a residence by the princes Notarbartolo di Sciara. Acquired by the Region of Sicilia it was restored in the 1990s. The Zisa today is opened to tourists. Some rooms house Islamic art pieces, tools and artifacts from the Mediterranean area. The most notable room is the central hall, with a mosaic decoration; once it had a fountain too, from which the water flowed outside.

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Address

Piazza Zisa 30, Palermo, Italy
See all sites in Palermo

Details

Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Italy

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Caillou Mertens (6 months ago)
Not specifically pointed out as a main touristic attraction but really worth to visit as an emblematic representation of the coexistence of the three religions, Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox.
Jwan khalil (6 months ago)
Not very interesting. Not very big. Not so many rooms and things too see here. Lot of better places to see in the City. For me was a waste of time.
Peter Claydon (8 months ago)
A castle in the unique Sicilian Arab-Norman style. It's been repaired a lot over the years, but many original features remain, including mosaics and the "stalactites" above the windows. It takes about 30 minutes to look around.
Andrea Fustinoni (15 months ago)
Breathtakingly beautiful. An excellent soecimen of what happens when you mix Norman influence with Arabic style. A must visit if in Palermo, all the more if you take into account the rock-bottom ticket price.
Espatriando Lussemburgo (2 years ago)
Recommended. Very nice experience to visit this wonderful castle. Simple and fascinating at the same time. Difficult to find parking around, better to use public transportation. The audio guide is not adding so much vs. what you can find written on panel. Unfortunately is not mobility friendly. Needs some maintenance.
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