Sicily has been a crossroads of cultures, and that is naturally reflected in the architecture and decor of the Palazzo dei Normanni. The island was Arab-ruled from 831 to 1072, and they enriched Palaermo with intriguing edifices and decorative elements. When the Normans took over, the ruler Roger I promptly went about turning the Palazzo of the Emirs into his personal and political statement, and it became the Palazzo of the Normans.

Roger I established the palace as the center of culture and art for 13th century Palermo, embellishing the gorgeous salons with splendid art. The palace is a blend of styles, as exotic as Palermo itself. You'll find elegant and opulent spaces, rooms festooned with frescoes and mosaics, inlaid staircases with exquisitely carved columns, and the regal interior courtyard tiered with three levels of arcades. In short, this is one sight in Palermo that you have to see!

Today, the palace is home to the Sicilian Regional Parliament, but you can visit the royal apartments, courtyard and chapel. The Sala Gialla with its frescoed ceiling was a ballroom, now used for events and meetings. The Sala dei Vicere' is a vast portrait gallery, a who's-who of the Bourbon dynasty. The Sala di Ruggero is a masterpiece of Islamic art, used by Roger I.

The breathtaking highlight, though, is the Cappella Palatina, with combines Latin, Byzantine and Islamic elements. Awe-inspiring mosaics cover the chapel, a true masterpiece that doesn't fail to astound visitors.

The Palazzo dei Normanni is open from 8:15 AM til 5:45 PM (last entrance at 5:00 PM) Monday through Saturday; from 8:15 AM til 1:00 PM (last entrance at 12:15 PM) on Sunday.

Been there? Done that? Share your experience and tips!

Haven't visited yet? Have questions about Palazzo dei Normanni? Ask them here!

Address in Palermo:

Piazza Indipendenza, 1.

Ph. (+39) 091 626 2833.

Have a look at our apartment rentals in Palermo.