This is the first of our walking tours to start uncovering Palermo, a city more ancient than Rome...
For this guided walk we will meet you up at the Quattro Canti (or we may pick you up from your hotel or b&b) to head to Piazza Pretoria (Praetorian Square); the square is also known as Piazza della Vergogna (Square of Shame) for the nudity of the statues of its huge fountain, which was built or better moved there in 1573. In the same square we find the Praetorian Palace (which hosts the City Hall) built in the 15th century and renovated in the 19th century: it is often open to the general public, so we may spot the mayor of Palermo…
A few metres away lies the Church of Martorana (or Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, ammiraglio meaning admiral): in 1184 the Arab traveller Ibn Jubayr visited the church, and later devoted a significant portion of his description of Palermo to its praise, describing it as “the most beautiful monument in the world”. If an Arab said so for a Christian church it must be true!
After walking over the interred Kemonia river we enter the Church of Casa Professa (also known as Church of the Gesù) built by the Jesuits between 1590 and 1636: the marble reliefs, with their figural and ornamental motifs on the pillars, and the marble mosaics are absolutely unique.
Then Ballarò, the largest and most ancient open-air marketplace in Palermo, of Arab origins: where colours and smells and the vendors' screams fill in the air. Fresh and cooked food is displayed on the stalls, sold by the vendors with their typical abbanniata (screaming out the products’ characteristics).
The last site of our walk is possibly the most important: the Royal Palace or Normans Palace, nowadays the seat of the Regional Parliament of Sicily. After the Normans had conquered Sicily in 1072 the palace, previously built by the Arabs, was chosen as the main residence of the kings. In 1132 King Roger II added the famous Palatine Chapel, whose golden mosaics are unique for their subtle modulations of colour and luminance.
At the end of the walk, being lunchtime, we may either suggest you a lovely restaurant or where to enjoy some delicious street food: any walk had better end up with some tasty Sicilian dishes!
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, 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 walk now to enjoy the best of Palermo!
- 9:30 Quattro Canti
- 9:45 Square of Shame
- 10:00 Church of Martorana
- 10:45 Church of Casa Professa
- 11:15 Ballarò open-air marketplace
- 12:00 Royal Palace and Palatine Chapel
- 13:30 End of the walk or we may take you to a restaurant