Palermo .. the jewel of Sicily and the charm of Southern Italy

The charm of Southern Italy radiates from the city of Palermo, as the capital of Sicily abounds with many beautiful landscapes, wonderful beaches, architectural treasures, ancient castles, stone fountains, amazing statues and monuments.

In addition, Palermo is a shopping destination, as it includes the oldest open-air markets, as well as high-end shopping centers for the most famous designers and luxury brands.

Ballaro neighborhood

Every day Marco Sorrentino climbs about 80 steps of the narrow spiral staircase to reach the roof of the medieval tower of the church of San Nicolò dei Bari. This ancient tower and its church are located in the heart of Ballaro, a historic quarter with a varied market and very famous in Italy.

“This neighborhood is the beating heart of Palermo, even the central point of the Mediterranean,” explained Marco Sorrentino. This neighborhood reflects the city’s nearly 3,000-year history, and includes many cultures that have melted into the Italian city’s melting pot.

This young man works in his office on the ground floor of the tower, and when he climbs to the top of the tower, his eyes wander over the “Monte Pellegrino” mountain, the Mediterranean Sea, palaces and churches, which spring from the maze of narrow alleys and streets. On the other side of the tower, the dome of the “Carmen Maggiore” church, covered with yellow, blue and green tiles, sparkles in the bright sunshine, and many consider it the most beautiful church in Palermo.

Ballaro neighborhood is located at the foot of the tower. This neighborhood has been welcoming immigrants from all over the world for decades. Marco Sorrentino confirmed that there are more nationalities in this region than in the United Nations itself in New York City.

The “Ballaro” neighborhood is also characterized by the presence of many young people and university students, and it beats with a more lively atmosphere than other historical areas such as “El Capo” and “La Calsa.” With many religious motifs.

And in the vicinity of the “Pisa Casa” square there is the “Jesus” church, which is considered the largest church in Palermo built in the Baroque style, and yet it receives little attention, despite the presence of very multicolored marble. mosaic decorations and wonderful frescoes And Pastor Walter Botaccio complains about the scarcity of tourists due to the intense competition with many of the city’s attractions, which are included in any tourist program in Palermo.

“Norman” palace

After walking for ten minutes, tourists reach a small hill on which the Phoenicians, Arabs and Byzantines settled in the past, and on this hill there is a “Norman” palace with the wonderful “Palatina” church, which is characterized by radiant mosaic decorations decorated with gold leaf, and these decorations represent scenes from the story of creation, the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The wooden ceiling, which takes the form of a beehive and was created by Egyptian artists at the time, is a true masterpiece. Art historian Giovanni Masaniello explained: “Many Palermos marry in the church, but it can take a long time to get a date now.” Sicily’s regional parliament occupies the palace built by Norman King Roger II.

In addition to the presence of an astronomical observatory in one of the palace’s towers since 1790 – and the dome of this tower can be seen from a distance – which offers tourists the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful view of the city and Palermo Bay . “These panoramas are kind of addictive for tourists,” says Laura D’Arcello, a research assistant at the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF).

This astronomical observatory was built during the Bourbon dynasty, which ruled Naples and Palermo, and they cared a lot about science. The tower is the tallest building in the old city, and tourists can also enjoy a wonderful view of the great Palermo Cathedral, built in the Arab-Byzantine style. This cathedral receives large numbers of tourists during the morning hours, and in the background appears the “Massimo” theater, which is the largest opera house in Italy.

Downtown

But on the other hand, the city center known as Quattro Cante Square, which is surrounded by four majestic facades with statues of the kings of Spain, testifying to the period of Iberian rule on the island of Sicily, cannot be seen.

In this square, which faces the intersection of “Via Maquida” and “Corso Vittorio Emanuele” streets, large numbers of people appear during the hours of the night and day, with a noisy atmosphere at all times, and as tourists a little calm longing, they can catch their breath in the “Santa Caterina” monastery which is just a few steps away.

Behind the simple exterior facade, tourists await a courtyard with a magnificent fountain, a church, a cloister and a roof terrace. Dominican nuns have lived in this monastery for almost 700 years, in a little paradise of their own creativity.

The monastery still keeps many secrets of the Sicilian festival cake, and many other dessert recipes. During the visit to the monastery, tourists tour through the former bedrooms of the nuns, and the tour ends with a climb to the roof terrace.

On the roof terrace, tourists enjoy a wonderful view of the most important historical and archaeological monuments of the city center, including the Fontana Pretoria fountain, which is famous for its nude statues of river gods and many other nymphs. The nearby area also includes two adjacent churches; They are “Martorana” and “San Cataldo”, in addition to the wonderful mountain landscape in the background.

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