The Arabs in Palermo - UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Arabs in Palermo - UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Arabic Palermo is simply fascinating...

This tour includes some fascinating edifices UNESCO World Heritage Sites from 2015 built or strongly influenced by the Arabs in Palermo since they conquered the city in 831. Many other edifices are no longer existing very likely not because of the Normans who defeated the Arabs after 241 years, but because of the Spanish who ruled the city a few centuries later, very hostile to everything related to Islam; nevertheless what was left is incredible, indeed!

For this tour with English-speaking driver we will pick you up from your hotel or b&b with one of our vehicles: with a minimum of 3 people the vehicle is a luxury Mercedes-Benz 4x4 or a comfortable 8-seat minivan! The first stop is Piazza Bellini, in the old city; upon arrival one can easily spot a mosque-like church: San Cataldo, founded around 1160 by the king's admiral Maio of Bari.

The second stop is the Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti (Saint John of the Hermit), close to the Royal Palace. The church's origin dates back to the 6th century; later, after the Islamic conquest of Sicily, it was converted into a mosque. After the establishment of the Norman domination of Southern Italy, it was returned to the Christians by King Roger II of Sicily who, around 1136, entrusted it to the Benedictine monks of Saint William of Vercelli.

The third stop of our tour is the edifice known as the Zisa Castle: its construction begun in the 12th century by the Arabian craftsmen for King William I of Sicily, and completed by his son William II. The edifice was conceived as a summer residence for the Norman kings, part of the large hunting resort known as the Genoardo (Arabic: Jannat al-arḍ, literally Paradise on Earth). The Zisa is clearly inspired by the Moorish architecture. The name Zisa itself derives from the Arab term al-Azīz, meaning dear or splendid.

The fourth stop is at the Maredolce Castle or Favara Castle, located in a neighbourhood in the city's outskirts. It is an edifice in the Islamic style whose architecture does not show Norman influences. It lies inside the once-named Fawwarah (boiling spring in Arabic), the Favara Park nowadays. The palace, improperly considered a castle, was built in 1071 as part of the qasr, that is a fortified citadel at the foot of Mount Grifone, probably encircled by walls.

We then get back to the city for the last stop of our tour: the Castello a Mare (Sea Castle). Located in the Archaeological Park near the Cala, a small haven, it was the most important defensive stronghold in the port of Palermo until the 20th century. Built in the 9th century, during the Arab domination, in the course of time was repeatedly restored and expanded for the various uses decided by the various city governments.

Why touring with Palermo Walks? We have been awarded the patronages of the Sicilian Parliament and of the City of Palermo, we provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee, our vehicles are checked every month, you can always talk to one of our managers. Our style is based on storytelling, our unique way of sharing with you the history and stories of people, art, culture, food, traditions. Book your tour now to enjoy the best of Sicily!



  • 9:00 Hotel or b&b pick-up by car or minivan
  • 9:30 Church of San Cataldo
  • 10:30 Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti
  • 12:00 Zisa Castle
  • 13:30 Lunch (not included)
  • 16:00 Maredolce Castle
  • 17:30 Castello a Mare
  • 19:00 Hotel or b&b drop-off
  • Booking Box

    Your experience starting from €89,00
    Number of People:
    * Date:

    Customise your Experience

  • Options

    • Internet connection: €10 per person.
    • Customisation: if you prefer a shorter or a longer tour, to add or remove some points of interest, and/or if you require different hours, please contact us.
    • For a driver speaking a language different from English or Italian, please contact us.
    • For a guide please contact us.
    • For luxury services please contact us.
    • For special needs please contact us: convertible car seats for babies and foldable wheelchairs may be rented at €15 each.
  • Specifications

    • Frequency: daily (except Christmas Day and New Year's Day).
    • Departure: 9:00 from your hotel or b&b in Palermo's city centre. The time may slightly vary according to the total number of participants, so it will be confirmed via email; if your hotel or b&b is outside Palermo's city centre please contact us.
    • Duration: 10 hours.
    • Number of participants: 1-8 (for more people please contact us).
    • Type of tour: open (people from different groups may join in), though limited to 8 people in total; for a private tour please contact us.
    • Location: Palermo.
    • Modality: by car or minivan, and on foot.
    • Dress code: no shorts and no sleeveless garment as not allowed in religious sites; it is recommended to wear comfortable shoes.
    • Contribution: 1 person €219, 2 people €149 per person, 3-4 people €119 per person, 5-6 people €99 per person 7-8 people €89 per person.
    • What is included: hotel or b&b pick-up and drop-off by car or minivan, English-speaking driver.
    • Entry tickets: not included.