PALERMO

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There are scarce traces left over from the Punic-Roman City (pieces of wall). Amongst the most notable finds are some mosaic flooring from the Roman era and an Ephebe, now housed in the main Council seat. A huge necropolis has returned various materials from the Punic and Roman eras, including precious Attiche ceramics.

Palermo during Norman times is a testimony of a series of prestigious monuments in a style which relates to the Arabic and Byzantine cultures.
From San Giovanni dei Lebbrosi (of the Lepers) (1072) to San Giovanni of the Eremites (1132), with its five inflated Moorish domes, to the Martorana (Santa Maria dell’Ammirgalio of 1143) to San Cataldo (1161), almost intact and well restored with three red domes, and once again the Santo Spirito del Vespro (1178) and the Magione or Santissima Trinità (1194), with its cloister; these monuments make a crown around the marvellous Cattedrale dell’Assunta of 1185, which unfortunately, due a succession of readjustments between the 14th and 16th Centuries, culminated in the reconstruction of the interior and of the Dome by F. Fuga (18th Century), has left very little except for the Crypt and Arch of the original cathedral construction.
Behind an imposing 16th-18th Century façade, the Palazzo of the Normans rises up, dating back to the 11th and 12th Centuries, having been built on the site of an Arabic fortress, whose nucleus (with the Towers of the Pisani, the Treasury Room and the High Room, with the intact Palatina Chapel, the admirable mosaics, with the Soom of King Ruggero, and that of the Armigeri), constitute an impressionable and unique complex of its kind.
On the area of the now Norman Park, which has now disappeared, you can find the surviving pavilions of the Zisa, with the fountain in the centre of the room, of Cuba and of Cubala and the remains of the Palazzzo Uscibene, with its Arabic Room and the small Norman Church.

The following belong to the period that starts from the Normans to the 14th Century, the Steri or Palazzo Chiaramonte (1307), the Palazzi Sclafani and the doors of the Church of Saint Augustine and Saint Francis.

Gothic and Catalan forms continue during the 15th Century, with the Church of Saint Mary of Jesus and of the Repentite (Repented), and with the magnificent Cathedral porch and the palaces of Arcivescovile, Marchesi, Pietratagliata, the most preserved. At the end of the century, Renaissance forms were introduced by the architect M. Carnelivari, which can be seen in the following Palaces: Aiutamicristo (help me Jesus) Abatellis (magnificent seat of the Galleria Regionale della Siclia (Regional Gallery of Sicily, contain decorated masterpieces) and in that of Santa Maria della Catena.

Dating back to the 16th Century, Santa Maria in Porto Salvo (1531) by A. Gagini, unfortunately undergoing readjustments; Santa Maria dei Miracoli (Saint Mary of Miracles) (1547), probably by Fazio Gagini; San Giorgio dei Genovesi; San Giovanni dei Napoletani and the Scavuzzo and Santa Ninfa Palaces, the New Door and the Felice Door, the monumental Fountain of Piazza Pretoria, whilst sheltered between the newly founded Maqueda and Cassaro roads.

At the beginning of the 17th Century the “Quattro Canti:” one of the most original urbanistic solutions of 17th Century Italy (1609/20).
The Baroque period has left the most striking mark on the City; Ugo Palaces, Villafranca, with its sumptuous internal decorations, Spaccaforno, Tarallo, Cutò, Butera, the Churches of Santa Caterina dell’Olivella (Sant’Ignazio), Gesù, Saint Joseph (of Giacomo Besio), San Matteo, San Domenico, the Pietà (of G. Amato), the Salvatore (of P. Amato), skilful architects, to which most of the churches in Palermo can be attributed; the same can be said for sculptures by G. Serpotta, which dominated the 18th Century, and the plastering by Rosario, Santa Zita, and San Lorenzo.

During the 18th Century, the parks of Villa Giulia and that of the Favorita were established, whilst we should also remember from during the second half of the Century, the neoclassic work of V. Marvuglia: the Oratorio of San Filippo Neri, the Belmonte Villa, the Geraci Palace, and the small Chinese Palace of the Favorita. In the 19th Century, we have the majestic Massimo Theatre (1875-1897), of the Basile; which owes its name to the fact that at the time it was the largest Italian Theatre and the third largest in Europe. The Politeama Theatre of G. Damiani (1874) also dates back to this period.

Between the declarative seats, we should remember: the National Archaeological Museum which is housed in the Convent of the Philippines: hosting works from various areas of Sicily and from important collections: the metope (plain, flat panel that alternates with a more decorative carved triglyph) of the Temple C and Temple E of the Selinunte, (an abandoned ancient Greek city) is of particular interest, Greek and Etruscan artefacts, the collection of ancient anchors, also that of the prehistoric finds; the Archeolocigal Mormino Fondazione Museum; the already mentioned National Gallery of Sicily; the Museo Diocesano, with artefacts and paintings mainly from the churches of the diocese; the Gallery of Modern Art; the Renaissance Museum; the G. Pitrè Ethnographic Museum, one of the most important in Italy, and finally the Tesoro della Cattedrale (Treasury of the Cathedral), with jewellery and precious cloths from Norman times to the end of the 18th Century.

The Astronomical Observatory, built in 1790 on the torre Santa Ninfa del Palazzo Reale, became important for the discovery of Cerere del pianetino (the first asteroid discovered in our solar system which he named Cerere) by Giussepe Piazzi in 1801.

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PALERMO
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