The Palatine Chapel in Palermo is not only designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site but is also listed among the most beautiful churches of the world. Built as a private chapel for the Norman kings of Sicily, the church is completely encased within the Royal Palace, known as both the Palazzo Reale and the Palazzo dei Normanni. It belonged to the royal ruling families, starting with the Normans (and including Frederick II and his son Manfred), then passed to the Spanish Aragon royals in 1438.

The Cappella Palatina was ordered by ruler Roger II in 1132. An inscription at the base of the cupola dates the completion of the marvelous mosaics at 1143. The incredibly ornate and detailed mosaics are what give the church such splendor - no visitor can enter without gasping in awe at the sight! Covering nearly every inch of the upper parts of the walls, columns, and cupola, they are indeed impressive.

But the Cappella Palatina is unique for another reason: the decoration involved craftsmen and artistic traditions of three religions - Byzantine, Muslim and Latin-rite Catholicism. It was a reflection of the unique melding of cultures and religions of Sicily itself. The texts around the church are inscribed in Greek, Arabic and Latin. The ceiling is an ornate and complex design of carved and painted panels by a craftsman from Maghreb. Carved marble statues and features, such as the grand Paschal Candelabra aren't to be overlooked in the frenzy of mosaics, though.

OPEN: from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily (continuous hours) except Sunday; on Sunday from 9:40 AM til 1:00 PM. Entrance is on Piazza Independenza.

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Address in Palermo:

Piazza Independenza.

Ph. (+39) 091 705 4879.

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