For lovers of landscapes and architectural treasures… a tour of Palermo

03:05 am

Thursday 12 January 2023

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In the Italian city of Palermo, the capital of the island of Sicily is full of many beautiful landscapes, wonderful beaches, architectural treasures, ancient castles, stone fountains, wonderful statues and memorials.
Palermo is a shopping destination; It includes the oldest open markets, as well as luxury shopping centers for the most famous designers and luxury brands.

Ballaro district

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, which is historic district with ‘ a varied market and very popular 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 Monte Pellegrino, the Mediterranean Sea, palaces and churches, emerging from the maze of narrow alleys and streets. On the other side of the tower, the dome of the “Carmine Maggiore” church, covered with yellow, blue and green tiles, sparkles in the bright sunshine, and is considered by many to be the most beautiful church in Palermo.

The Ballaro neighborhood is located at the foot of the tower, and for decades this neighborhood has been characterized by a welcoming atmosphere for immigrants from all over the world, and Marco Sorrentino confirmed that there are more nationalities in this region than in the United States is. Nations themselves in New York City.

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

Near Pisa Casa Square is the Basilica of Jesus, which is the largest church in Palermo built in the Baroque style, and yet it receives little attention, despite the presence of many multicolored marble mosaic decorations and wonderful frescoes And priest “Valter Botaccio” complains about the scarcity of tourists, due to the intense competition with many of the city’s tourist 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 characterized is decorated with radiant mosaic decorations in gold leaf, and these decorations represent scenes from the creation story, the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The wooden ceiling, which takes the shape of a beehive and was created by Egyptian artists at the time, is considered a true masterpiece, and art historian Giovanni Masaniello explained, saying: “Many Palermo residents get married in the church, but it can take a long time to get an appointment now,” and the regional parliament is occupied in Sicily Island Palace, built by the Norman king Roger II.

In addition to the presence of an astronomical observatory in one of the palace towers since 1790, and the dome of this tower can be seen from a distance, giving tourists the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful view of the city and Palermo Bay. “These panoramic views for tourists are kind of addictive,” explains Laura Darcello, research assistant at the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF).

And this astronomical observatory was built during the era of the Bourbon family, who ruled Naples and Palermo, and they were very interested in science. Large numbers of tourists during the morning hours, and in the background appears the “Massimo” theater, which is the largest opera house in Italy.

But on the other hand, the city center, known as Quattro Cante Square, 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.

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 the noisy atmosphere at all times, and if tourists want a little calm, can catch their breath in the monastery of “Santa Caterina” which is located 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 recipes for other sweets. During the visit to the monastery
Tourists tour the former bedrooms of the nuns and end the tour with an ascent to the roof terrace.

On the roof terrace, tourists enjoy a wonderful view of the most important historical and archaeological monuments in 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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