My family and I passed an early Spring break in Italy. This time we went to Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Sicily is situated left under Italy mainland.
Map is courtesy of Mapsofworld.com
Palermo is located in the northwest. On the map below it is above left.
I chose Palermo as a destination to spend almost a week in cold February due to its mild mediterranean climate. The other reasons were of course the food and history (Punic Wars 1 – 3). I shot a fair amount of pictures which I love to share. To make it convenient for me and you readers, I present the stories and images in various posts. Here is part one of Prego Palermo.
Palermo is an ancient city with a rich history. It was built in the 7 century BC by the Phoenicians, a tribe from the Canaan region, today known as Lebanon and Syria. Four centuries later Carthage (now Tunisia) fought against Rome in Sicily. The wars went on and on and are known as The Punic Wars 1 – 3. Palermo became a region of Carthage then Rome conquered it in 254 BC. Romans called the city Panormus, Greek for big port. It became part of the Byzantine empire. From 831 to 1072 The Arabs occupied the city which was then called Balharm. During the Arab occupation Palermo developed itself as a center of Islamic studies. The city knew a period of splendor and prosperity under the rule of the Arabs.
To cut a long history short, the Normans took over Balharm from the Arabs. After the Normans these rulers occupied Palermo in the following order:Angevin dynasty (French), Aragon and Barcelona dynasty (Catalunia, Spain), Bourbon dynasty from Napels, The House of Savoy and Austria. From 1861 Palermo and the rest of Sicily accede the Kingdom of Italy.
Enough about the complicated history. Here are the pictures of a couple of sites.
The imposing Cathedral of Palermo built in 1185. More of this enormous cathedral is coming up on another post.
3 minutes walk from the Cathedral, there is this park of Villa Bonnano. The Arab influence is clearly visible here.
This is the Palazzo dei Normanni or Royal Palace of Palermo, a silent witness of the city rulers.
Adjacent of this royal palace, there is Capella Palatina, a stunning chapel with marvelous interior, the mosaic, wooden ornamented panels and richly decorated arches and columns are known as Arab-Norman-Byzantine style.
Picture is courtesy of VisitSicily.com as I didn’t shoot it myself. We were in awe during our 15 minutes visit in this little chapel.
Coming out from the Royal Palace and the Chapel, there is this city port, Porta Nuova. It was built in 1583 by the Spanish.
This immense building is Teatro Massimo, the biggest opera house in Italy and the third in Europe after Opera Garnier in Paris and the Vienna State Opera in Vienna. It was built in 1874. The area around Teatro Massimo is quite touristy with many hotels, cafes and restaurants. When I was there on Sunday 7 Februari 2016, the square was the center of Carnival celebration. The place was jammed with so many old and young Palermitans in costume. Sadly I left my DSLR camera in the apartment, so there are no pictures of it.
This is the port of Palermo, La Cala. It is situated in a little bay.
Mount Pellegrino on the background was the camp of Hamilcar of Carthage the first Punic War 247 BC. I can imagine how useful it was to set a camp there, Hamilcar kept the city under siege well.
This is a street in the Arab quarter of Kalsa where I stayed. More pictures and stories of Palermo are coming. Stay tuned!