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Top Rated Attractions in Palermo

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Streat Palermo Tour

Relish traditional Sicilian fare by participating in a walking tour organized by Streat Palermo Tour. Not only do you walk through historic squares and pass by major tourist attractions but visitors also get the chance to stop at several bakeries and food stands to try some of the local cuisine. Besides the great food, participants also get the chance to learn about the city’s culinary heritage and how the local cuisine is influenced by Jews and Arabs. Participants also get the chance to learn more about the city’s art culture and history. If you are a foodie at heart, participate in one of the tours and tantalize your senses in the streets of the gorgeous city of Palermo.

Cattedrale di Palermo

Built around the end of the 12th Century during the Norman reign of Guglielmo II, the Cattedrale (Cathedral) is definitely one of the most important religious buildings from a historical and artistic perspective. Throughout the centuries, it underwent various additions and restorations. One of the most outstanding change is that of the Florentine architect Fuga, from the end of the 17th century, which gave the building its definite neoclassic style. Remarkable details of the exterior to admire include the 13th-century bronze door, enriched with the four symbols of the evangelists, (a lion, an angel, a bull and an eagle), the magnificent dome and the apses, a vestige of the original church. Inside, among the various and splendid chapels, it should be mentioned that some house the tombs of Norman and Suebi royalty (Ruggero II, Federico II, Costanza d'Altavilla) as well as the silver urn that contains the ashes of Saint Rosalia, the patron saint of the city.

Piazza Vigliena (Quattro Canti)

Better known as Palermo's famous Four Cantons, Piazza Vigliena is located at the intersection of Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele and separates the four zones of the 17th-century city. This square is the fruit of the clever urban renovations that attempted to hide the poverty of the population behind the imposing facades of the buildings along the city's two main arteries. Throughout the 17th century, besides being the center of city life, it was the preferred place for locals to stroll about. In the last few years, thanks to the refurbishments mandated by a new regulatory plan, the square has been revitalized after a long period of decay and neglect. Each canton has three architectural levels, corresponding to the three orders of Doric, Ionic and Composite, and at the bottom of each are the allegories of the seasons: Autumn to the north, Winter to the east, Spring to the south and Summer to the west. In the middle are the statues of four different Spanish monarchs, respectively, Filippo IV, Filippo III, Carlo V e Filippo II and above are the four patron saints of their respective neighborhoods: St. Oliva (Loggia), St. Agata (Kalsa), St. Cristina (Albergheria) and St. Nymph (Capo).

Palazzo dei Normanni

An imposing structure in the heart of old Palermo, this Norman Palace of great historical and artistic importance has, over the centuries, undergone numerous transformations and is currently the Sicilian local government headquarters. A royal residence in Norman times, defended by four towers and richly decorated with Arab designs, it also had its own circle of artists, scientists and literary figures during the reign of Frederick II. The Ruggero, Duca di Montalto, Ercole, Pompeiana rooms and the Torre dei Venti courtyard are however open to the public. By appointment only Tuesdays to Thursdays & Sundays.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archeological Museum

Museo Archeologico Regionale is housed within a convent belonging to the Cappucin friars. Most of the collection relates to the period of Greek dominance. Among the more interesting exhibits are the famous metope from the temples in Selinunte, a collection of Greek vases and several mosaics from patrician Roman villas. There is also a rather interesting collection of Italian ceramics from the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. The permanent collection was enlarged a few years ago to include a section dedicated to the punic tombs found all over Sicily.

RISO, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea della Sicilia

Constructed towards the end of the 18th Century by Italian architect- Giuseppe Venanzio Marvuglia, the beautiful Sicilian-Baroque structure of Palazzo Riso is the home contemporary art was waiting for. Its beautiful ochre front stands right in front of the theatrical scenery of Bologni Square and Carlo V statue. It hosts a permanent collection of famous international artists such as Christian Boltanski and Richard Long, the Italian Emilio Isgrò and Pietro Consagra, but is also a home for nascent Sicilian talents like Laboratorio Saccardi and for remarkable temporary art exhibitions. The museum is also supplied with a book shop and an elegant coffee bar.

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