PALERMO (Italian: ( listen ), Sicilian : Palermu, Latin : Panormus,
from Greek : Πάνορμος, Panormos) is a city of Southern
the capital of both the autonomous region of
Sicily and the
Metropolitan City of Palermo . The city is noted for its history ,
culture , architecture and gastronomy , playing an important role
throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old. Palermo
is located in the northwest of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf
Palermo in the
Tyrrhenian Sea .
The city was founded in 734 BC by the
Phoenicians as Ziz ('flower').
Palermo then became a possession of
Carthage , before becoming part of
Roman Republic , the
Roman Empire and eventually part of the
Byzantine Empire , for over a thousand years. The
Greeks named the
city Panormus meaning 'complete port'. From 831 to 1072 the city was
Arab rule during the
Sicily when the city first
became a capital. The
Arabs shifted the Greek name into Balarme
(Arabic : بَلَرْم), the root for Palermo's present-day
name. Following the Norman reconquest ,
Palermo became the capital of
a new kingdom (from 1130 to 1816), the Kingdom of
Sicily and the
capital of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire under Frederick II Holy Roman Emperor
Conrad IV of Germany
Conrad IV of Germany ,
King of the Romans
King of the Romans . Eventually Sicily
would be united with the
Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples to form the Kingdom of the
Two Sicilies until the
Italian unification of 1860.
The population of
Palermo urban area is estimated by
Eurostat to be
855,285, while its metropolitan area is the fifth most populated in
Italy with around 1.2 million people. In the central area, the city
has a population of around 676,000 people. The inhabitants are known
as Palermitani or, poetically, panormiti. The languages spoken by its
inhabitants are the
Italian language ,
Sicilian language and the
Palermo is Sicily's cultural , economic and touristic capital. It is
a city rich in history , culture , art , music and food . Numerous
tourists are attracted to the city for its good
its renowned gastronomy and restaurants , its Romanesque , Gothic and
Baroque churches , palaces and buildings , and its nightlife and music
Palermo is the main Sicilian industrial and commercial center: the
main industrial sectors include tourism , services , commerce and
Palermo currently has an international airport , and a
significant underground economy . In fact, for cultural, artistic and
Palermo was one of the largest cities in the
Mediterranean and is now among the top tourist destinations in both
Italy and Europe. It is the main seat of the
UNESCO World Heritage
Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of
Monreale . The city is also going through careful redevelopment,
preparing to become one of the major cities of the Euro-Mediterranean
Roman Catholicism is highly important in Palermitano culture. The
Patron Saint of
Palermo is Santa Rosalia whose Feast Day is celebrated
on 15 July. The area attracts significant numbers of tourists each
year and is widely known for its colourful fruit, vegetable and fish
markets at the heart of Palermo, known as Vucciria, Ballarò and Capo.
* 1 Geography
* 1.1 Topography
* 1.2 Rivers
* 2.1 Early history
* 2.2 Ancient period
* 2.3 Middle Ages
* 2.4 Two Sicilies
Italian unification and today
* 3 Districts
* 4 Climate
* 5 Landmarks
* 5.1 Churches
* 5.2 Palaces and museums
* 5.3 City walls
* 5.4 Opera houses
* 5.5 Squares
* 5.6 Other sights
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
* 6 Demographics
* 8 Education
* 9 Sports
* 10 Infrastructure
* 10.1 Public transport
* 10.2 Roads
* 10.3 Airports
* 10.4 Port
* 10.5 National rail
* 11 Patron saints
* 12 International relations
Twin towns and sister cities
* 13 Gallery
* 14 See also
* 15 References
* 16 Sources
* 17 External links
Palermo lies in a basin, formed by the Papireto, Kemonia and Oreto
rivers. The basin was named the Conca d'Oro (the Golden Basin) by the
Arabs in the 9th century. The city is surrounded by a mountain range
which is named after the city itself. These mountains face the
Tyrrhenian Sea .
Palermo is home to a natural port and offers
excellent views to the sea, especially from
Monte Pellegrino .
Monte Pellegrino pictured at the end of the 19th century; the
mountain is visible from everywhere in the city
Palermo is surrounded by mountains, formed of calcar , which form a
cirque around the city. Some districts of the city are divided by the
mountains themselves. Historically, it was relatively difficult to
reach the inner part of
Sicily from the city because of the mounts.
The tallest peak of the range is La Pizzuta, about 1,333 metres (4,373
ft) high. However, historically, the most important mount is Monte
Pellegrino , which is geographically separated from the rest of the
range by a plain. The mount lies right in front of the Tyrrhenian Sea
. Monte Pellegrino's cliff was described in the 19th century by Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe , as "the most beautiful promontory in the world",
in his essay "
Italian Journey ".
Today both the Papireto river and the Kemonia are covered up by
buildings. However, the shape of the former watercourses can still be
recognised today, because the streets that were built on them follow
their shapes. Today the only waterway not drained yet is the Oreto
river that divides the downtown of the city from the western uptown
and the industrial districts. In the basins there were, though, many
seasonal torrents that helped formed swampy plains, reclaimed during
history; a good example of which can be found in the borough of
Mondello . View of
Timeline of Palermo
Mesolithic cave art at
Evidence of human settlement in the area now known as
back to at least the
Mesolithic period, perhaps around 8000 BC , where
a group of cave drawings at nearby
Addaura from that period have been
found. The original inhabitants were
Sicani people who, according to
Thucydides , arrived from the
Iberian Peninsula (perhaps
A brief stretch of Palermo's Phoenician defence wall, now
enclosed in the Santa Caterina Monastery.
During 734 BC the
Phoenicians , a sea trading people from the north
Canaan , built a small settlement on the natural harbor of
Palermo. Some sources suggest they named the settlement Ziz. It
became one of the three main Phoenician colonies of Sicily, along with
Soluntum . However, the remains of the Phoenician presence
in the city are few and mostly preserved in the very populated center
of the downtown area, making any excavation efforts costly and
logistically difficult. The site chosen by the
Phoenicians made it
easy to connect the port to the mountains with a straight road that
today has become Corso Calatifimi. This road helped the
trading with the populations that lived beyond the mountains that
surround the gulf.
The first settlement is known as Paleapolis (Παλεάπολις),
the Ancient Greek word for "old city", in order to distinguish it from
a second settlement built during the 5th century BC, called Neapolis
(Νεάπολις), "new city". Neapolis was erected towards the east
and along with it, monumental walls around the whole settlement were
built to prevent attacks from foreign threats. Some part of this
structure can still be seen in the Cassaro district. This district was
named after the walls themselves; the word Cassaro deriving from the
Arab al-qaṣr (castle, stronghold, see also alcázar ). Along the
walls there were few doors to access and exit the city, suggesting
that trade even toward the inner part of the island occurred
frequently. Moreover, according to some studies, it may be possible
that there were some walls that divided the old city from the new one
too. The colony developed around a central street (decumanus ), cut
perpendicularly by minor streets. This street today has become Corso
Carthage was Palermo’s major trading partner under the Phoenicians
and the city enjoyed a prolonged peace during this period. Palermo
came into contact with the Ancient
Greeks between the 6th and the 5th
centuries BC which preceded the
Sicilian Wars , a conflict fought
Greeks of Syracuse and the
control over the island of Sicily. During this war the
the settlement Panormos (Πάνορμος) from which the current name
is derived, meaning "all port" due to the shape of its coast. It was
Palermo that Hamilcar I 's fleet (which was defeated at the
Battle of Himera ) was launched. In 409 BC the city was looted by
Hermocrates of Syracuse . The
Sicilian Wars ended in 265 BC when
Carthage and Syracuse stopped warring and united in order to stop the
Romans from gaining full control of the island during the First Punic
War . In 276 BC, during the
Pyrrhic War , Panormos briefly became a
Greek colony after being conquered by
Pyrrhus of Epirus , but returned
Carthage in 275 BC. In 254 BC Panormos was besieged and
conquered by the Romans in the first battle of Panormus (the name
Carthage attempted to reconquer Panormus in 251 BC but
San Giovanni degli Eremiti , a church showing elements of
Byzantine, Arabic and Norman architecture. See also: Byzantine
Sicily , and Kingdom of
Roman Empire was falling apart,
Palermo fell under the control
of several Germanic tribes . The first were the
Vandals in 440 AD
under the rule of their king
Geiseric . The
Vandals had occupied all
the Roman provinces in North Africa by 455 establishing themselves as
a significant force. They acquired
Sardinia and Sicily
shortly afterwards. However, they soon lost these newly acquired
possessions to the Ostrogoths. The Ostrogothic conquest under
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great began in 488; Theodoric supported Roman culture
and government unlike the Germanic Goths. The Gothic War took place
Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the
Byzantine Empire .
Sicily was the first part of
Italy to be taken
under control of General
Belisarius who was commissioned by Eastern
Justinian I solidified his rule in the following years.
Cappella Palatina , decorated with Byzantine, Arabic and Norman
Arabs took control of the island in 904, and the
Sicily was established.
Muslim rule on the island lasted for about
120 years .
Palermo (Balarme during
Arab rule) displaced Syracuse as
the capital of Sicily. It was said to have then begun to compete with
Cairo in terms of importance and splendor. For more than
a hundred years
Palermo was the capital of a flourishing emirate .
Arabs also introduced many agricultural crops which remain a
Sicilian cuisine .
Arabesque on a wall of the Cuba
After dynastic quarrels however, there was a Christian reconquest in
1072. The family who returned the city to
Christianity were called the
Hautevilles , including
Robert Guiscard and his army, who is regarded
as a hero by the natives. It was under Roger II of
Norman holdings in
Sicily and the southern part of the Italian
Peninsula were promoted from the County of
Sicily into the Kingdom of
Sicily . The kingdom's capital was Palermo, with the King's Court held
Palazzo dei Normanni . Much construction was undertaken during
this period, such as the building of
Palermo Cathedral . The Kingdom
Sicily became one of the wealthiest states in Europe.
Sicily fell under the control of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire in 1194.
Palermo was the preferred city of the Emperor Frederick II . Muslims
Palermo emigrated or were expelled during Holy Roman rule. After an
interval of Angevin rule (1266–1282),
Sicily came under control of
the Aragon and Barcelona dynasties. By 1330, Palermo's population had
declined to 51,000. From 1479 until 1713
Palermo was ruled by the
Kingdom of Spain
Kingdom of Spain , and again between 1717 and 1718.
Palermo was also
Savoy control between 1713 and 1717 and 1718–1720 as a result
Treaty of Utrecht
Treaty of Utrecht . It was also ruled by
Austria between 1720
Treaty of Utrecht
Treaty of Utrecht (1713),
Sicily was handed over to the
Savoy , but by 1734 it was in Bourbon possession. Charles III
Palermo for his coronation as King of
Sicily . Charles had new
houses built for the growing population, while trade and industry grew
as well. However, by now
Palermo was now just another provincial city
as the Royal Court resided in Naples. Charles' son Ferdinand , though
disliked by the population, took refuge in
Palermo after the French
Revolution in 1798. His son Alberto died on the way to
Palermo and is
buried in the city.
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was founded, the original
capital city was
Palermo (1816) but a year later moved to
The revolution in
Palermo (12 January 1848).
From 1820 to 1848
Sicily was shaken by upheavals, which culminated on
12 January 1848, with a popular insurrection, the first one in Europe
that year, led by Giuseppe La Masa . A parliament and constitution
were proclaimed. The first president was
Ruggero Settimo . The
Palermo in 1849, and remained under their rule
until the time of
Giuseppe Garibaldi . The famous general entered
Palermo with his troops (the “Thousands”) on 27 May 1860. After
the plebiscite later that year Palermo, along with the rest of Sicily,
became part of the new Kingdom of
ITALIAN UNIFICATION AND TODAY
Giuseppe Garibaldi entering
Palermo on 27 May 1860
The majority of Sicilians preferred independence to the Savoy
kingdom; in 1866,
Palermo became the seat of a week-long popular
rebellion, which was finally crushed after
Martial law was declared.
The Italian government blamed anarchists and the Church, specifically
the Archbishop of Palermo, for the rebellion and began enacting
anti-Sicilian and anti-clerical policies. A new cultural, economic
and industrial growth was spurred by several families, like the Florio
, the Ducrot, the
Rutelli , the Sandron , the Whitaker, the Utveggio ,
and others. In the early twentieth century,
Palermo expanded outside
the old city walls, mostly to the north along the new boulevards Via
Roma, Via Dante, Via Notarbartolo, and Viale della Libertà. These
roads would soon boast a huge number of villas in the
style. Many of these were designed by the famous architect Ernesto
Basile . The Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, designed by
Ernesto Basile for
Florio family, is a good example of Palermitan
Art Nouveau. The
Teatro Massimo was designed in the same period by Giovan Battista
Filippo Basile , and built by the
Rutelli & Machì building firm of
the industrial and old
Rutelli Italian family in Palermo, and was
opened in 1897.
Second World War
Second World War ,
Palermo was untouched until the Allied
Sicily in 1943. In July, the harbour and the surrounding
quarters were heavily bombed by the Allied forces and were all but
In 1946 the city was declared the seat of the Regional Parliament ,
as capital of a
Special Status Region (1947) whose seat is in the
Palazzo dei Normanni .
A theme in the city's modern age has been the struggle against the
Red Brigades and outlaws such as
Salvatore Giuliano , who
controlled the neighbouring area of
Montelepre . The Italian state
effectively has had to share control of the territory, economically
and administratively, with the Mafia.
The so-called "
Sack of Palermo " is one of the major visible faces of
the problem. The term is used to indicate the speculative building
practices that have filled the city with poor buildings, mainly during
the 1950s to the 1980s. The reduced importance of agriculture in the
Sicilian economy has led to a massive migration to the cities,
especially Palermo, which swelled in size, leading to rapid expansion
towards the north. The regulatory plans for expansion was largely
ignored in the boom. New parts of town appeared almost out of nowhere,
but without parks, schools, public buildings, proper roads and the
other amenities that characterise a modern city.
Mayor of Palermo and Boroughs of
Kalsa , Albergheria, Seralcadio & La Loggia
Brancaccio & Ciaculli-Oreto
Villagrazia-Falsomiele & Stazione-Oreto
Montegrappa, S. Rosalia,
Cuba , Calafatimi, Mezzomonreale, Villa
Tasca-Altarello & Boccadifalco
Zisa , Noce, Uditore-Passo di Rigano & Borgo Nuovo
Cruillas, S. Giovanni Apostolo, Resuttana & San Lorenzo
Pallavicino, Tommaso Natale, Sferracavallo, Partanna Mondello,
Arenella, Vergine Maria & San Filippo Neri (formerly known as ZEN )
Politeama, Malaspina-Palagonia, Libertà "> Gulf of Mondello
Palermo experiences a hot-summer
Mediterranean climate (Köppen
climate classification : Csa) that is mild with moderate seasonality.
Summers are hot and dry due to the domination of subtropical high
pressure system, while winters experience moderate temperatures and
changeable, rainy weather due to the polar front. Temperatures in
autumn and spring are usually mild.
Palermo is one of the warmest
cities in Europe (mainly due to its warm nights), with an average
annual air temperature of 18.5 °C (65.3 °F). It receives
approximately 2,530 hours of sunshine per year. Snow is usually a rare
occurrence, but it does occur occasionally during the strongest cold
spells. Between the 1940s and the 2000s there have been eleven times
when considerable snowfall has occurred. In 1949 and in 1956, when the
minimum temperature went down to 0 °C (32 °F), the city was
blanketed by several centimetres of snow. Snowfall also occurred in
1999, 2009 and 2015. The average annual temperature of the sea is
above 19 °C (66 °F); from 14 °C (57 °F) in February to 26 °C (79
°F) in August. In the period from November to May, the average sea
temperature exceeds 18 °C (64 °F) and in the period from June to
October, the average sea temperature exceeds 21 °C (70 °F).
CLIMATE DATA FOR PALERMO-BOCCADIFALCO AIRPORT ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF
THE CITY (ALTITUDE: 117 M, SATELLITE VIEW)
AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F)
DAILY MEAN °C (°F)
AVERAGE LOW °C (°F)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MM (INCHES)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION DAYS (≥ 1 MM)
Palermo has a large architectural heritage and is notable for its
many Norman buildings .
Churches in Palermo San Cataldo\'s Church .
Martorana . Church of Saint Catherine .
Palermo Cathedral : Located at Corso Vittorio Emanuele, corner Via
Matteo Bonello, its long history has led to an accumulation of
different architectural styles, the latest being the 18th century.
Cappella Palatina , the 12th century chapel of the Palazzo dei
Normanni , has outstanding mosaics in both Western and the Eastern
traditions and a roof by Saracen craftsmen.
* San Giovanni dei Lebbrosi
San Giovanni degli Eremiti (St. John of the Hermit Order): Located
Palazzo dei Normanni , a 12th-century church notable for its
bright red domes, a remnant of
Arab influence in Sicily. In his Diary
of an Idle Woman in Sicily, F. Elliot described it as "... totally
oriental... it would fit well in
Damascus ". The bell tower
is an example of
Gothic architecture .
* Chiesa della
Martorana : Also known as Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio
(St Mary of the Admiral), the church is annexed to the next-door
church of San Cataldo and overlooks the Piazza Bellini in central
Palermo. The original layout was a compact cross-in-square ("Greek
cross plan"), a common south Italian and Sicilian variant of the
middle Byzantine period church style. Three eastern apses adjoin
directly to the naos , instead of being separated by an additional
bay, as was usual in eastern Byzantine architecture. The bell tower,
lavishly decorated, still serves as the main entrance to the church.
The interior decoration is elaborate, and includes Byzantine mosaics.
* San Cataldo : Church, on the central Piazza Bellini, which is a
good example of
Norman architecture .
* Santa Maria della Gancia
* Santa Caterina: This church is located behind
Piazza Pretoria and
built between 1566 and 1596 in the baroque style.
* Santa Maria della Catena : This church was built between
1490-1520. Designed by Matteo Carnilivari : The name derives from
chains that were once attached to one of the walls.
* San Domenico : Located near Via Roma , it is known as the
“Pantheon of illustrious Sicilians”.
San Giuseppe dei Teatini : Located near the
Quattro Canti , it is
an example of Sicilian
Oratorio di San Lorenzo Working in stucco, Rococo sculptor Giacomo
Serpotta , his brother Giuseppe and his son Procopio, decorated the
church (1690/98–1706) with such a profusion of statuary, and an
abundance of putti, the walls appear alive. In October 1969, two
thieves removed Caravaggio's Nativity with St. Francis and St.
Lawrence from its frame. It has never been recovered.
* Oratorio del Rosario : Completed by
Giacomo Serpotta in
* Santa Teresa alla
Kalsa , which derives its name from
an Arabic term meaning elected, was constructed between 1686-1706 over
Emir 's residence, is one of the best examples of Sicilian
Baroque . It has a single, airy nave, with stucco decorations from the
early 18th century.
Santa Maria dello Spasimo was built in 1506 and later turned into
a hospital. This church inspired
Raphael to paint his famous
Sicilia\'s Spasimo , now in the
Museo del Prado
Museo del Prado . The church today is
a fascinating open-air auditorium, which occasionally houses
exhibitions and musical shows.
* Church of the Gesu (Church of Jesus): Located in the city centre,
the church was built in 1564 in the late-
Renaissance style by the
Jesuits. It was built over a pre-existing convent of Basilian monks .
Alterations in 1591 were completed in a Sicilian Baroque. The church
was heavily damaged after the 1943 bombings, which destroyed most of
the frescos . The interior has a Latin cross plan with a nave and two
aisles, and has a particularly rich decoration of marbles, intarsia
and stuccoes, especially in St Anne\'s Chapel. At the right is the
Casa Professa, with a 1685 portal and a precious 18th century
cloister. The building has been home to the Municipal Library since
* San Francesco di
Assisi : this church was built between 1255 and
1277 in what was once the market district of the city, at the site of
two pre-existing churches and was largely renovated in the 15th, 16th,
18th and 19th centuries, the last after an earthquake . After the 1943
bombings, the church was restored to its Medieval appearance, which
now includes part of the original building such as part of the right
side, the apses and the Gothic portal in the façade. The interior has
a typical Gothic flavour, with a nave and two aisles separated by two
rows of cylindrical pilasters. Some of the chapels are in Renaissance
style , as well as the late 16th century side portals. The church
includes precious sculptures by Antonio ,
Giacomo Gagini and Francesco
Laurana . Of note are also statues built by
Giacomo Serpotta in 1723.
* Church of the Magione: Officially known as the church of the Holy
Trinity . This church was built in the Norman style in 1191 by Matteo
d'Ajello, who donated it to the Cistercian monks .
PALACES AND MUSEUMS
Palazzo dei Normanni , seat of the Sicilian Regional Assembly.
Palazzo dei Normanni (the Norman Palace), one of the most
beautiful Italian palaces and a notable example of Norman architecture
. It houses the famous
Cappella Palatina .
* Zisa (1160) and
Cuba , magnificent castles/houses historically
used by the kings of
Palermo for hunting. The Zisa today houses the
Islamic museum. The
Cuba was once encircled by water.
Palace , of Vincenzo Natoli,
Palazzo Abatellis . Built at the end of the 15th century for the
prefect of the city, Francesco Abatellis. It is a massive though
elegant construction, in typical Catalan Gothic style, with
Renaissance influences. The Gallery houses an Eleonora of Aragon bust
Francesco Laurana (1471) and the Malvagna Triptych (c. 1510), by
Jan Gossaert and the famous Annunziata by
Antonello da Messina
Antonello da Messina .
Regional Archeological Museum Antonio Salinas is one of the
main museums of Italy: it includes numerous remains from Etruscan ,
Carthaginian , Roman and Hellenistic civilisations. It houses all the
decorative remains from the Sicilian temples of
Segesta and Selinunte
Palazzina Cinese , royal residence of the House of Bourbon-Two
Sicilies and location of the Ethnografic Museum of Sicily.
City wall at Corso Alberto
Palermo has at least two rings of city walls , many pieces of which
still survive. The first ring surrounded the ancient core of the
Phoenician city – the so-called Palaeopolis (in the area east of
Porta Nuova) and the Neapolis. Via Vittorio Emanuele was the main road
east–west through this early walled city. The eastern edge of the
walled city was on Via Roma and the ancient port in the vicinity of
Piazza Marina. The wall circuit was approximately Porto Nuovo, Corso
Alberti, Piazza Peranni, Via Isodoro, Via Candela, Via Venezia, Via
Roma, Piazza Paninni, Via Biscottari, Via Del Bastione, Palazzo dei
Normanni and back to Porto Nuovo.
In the medieval period the walled city was expanded. Via Vittorio
Emanuele continued to be the main road east–west through the walled
city. The west gate was still Porta Nuova, the walls continued to
Corso Alberti, to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele Orlando where it turned
east along Via Volturno to Piazza Verdi and along the line of Via
Cavour. At this northeast corner there was a defence, Castello a Mare
, to protect the port at La Cala. A huge chain was used to block La
Cala with the other end at Santa Maria della Catena (St Mary of the
Chain). The sea-side wall was along the western side of Foro Italico
Umberto. The wall turns west along the northern side of Via Abramo
Lincoln, continues along Corso Tukory. The wall turns north
approximately on Via Benedetto, to
Palazzo dei Normanni and back to
Several gates in the city wall survive. Images of the wall can be
Teatro Massimo opera house. Teatro Politeama .
Up until the beginning of 20th century there were hundreds of small
opera theatres known as magazzeni in the city of Palermo.
Teatro Massimo ("Greatest Theatre") was opened in 1897. It is
the biggest in
Italy (8,000 m2, 86,000 sq ft), and one of the largest
of Europe (the third after the
Paris Opera and the Vienna State Opera
), renowned for its perfect acoustics.
Enrico Caruso sang in a
performance of La Gioconda during the opening season, returning for
Rigoletto at the very end of his career. Closed for renovation from
1974 until 1997, it is now restored and has an active schedule.
* The Teatro Politeama was built between 1867 and 1874.
Quattro Canti at
Christmas time. Piazza Pretoria.
Quattro Canti is a small square at the crossing of the ancient
main roads (now: Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda) dividing the
town into its quarters (mandamenti ). The buildings at the corner have
diagonal baroque façades so the square has an almost octagonal form.
Piazza Pretoria was planned in the 16th century near the Quattro
Canti as the site of a fountain by
Francesco Camilliani , the Fontana
Palermo Botanical Garden : the Winter Garden greenhouses.
The cathedral has a heliometer (solar observatory) dating to 1690,
one of a number built in
Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries. The
device itself is quite simple: a tiny hole in one of the minor domes
acts as pinhole camera , projecting an image of the sun onto the floor
at solar noon (12:00 in winter, 13:00 in summer). There is a bronze
line, la Meridiana , on the floor, running precisely north–south.
The ends of the line mark the positions as at the summer and winter
solstices ; signs of the zodiac show the various other dates
throughout the year.
The purpose of the instrument was to standardise the measurement of
time and the calendar . The convention in
Sicily had been that the
(24‑hour) day was measured from the moment of dawn, which of course
meant that no two locations had the same time and, more importantly,
did not have the same time as in St. Peter\'s Basilica in
Rome . It
was also important to know when the vernal equinox occurred, to
provide the correct date for
Orto botanico di Palermo
Orto botanico di Palermo (
Palermo Botanical Garden), founded in
1785, is the largest in
Italy with a surface of 10 hectares (25
One site of interest is the Capuchin Catacombs , with many mummified
corpses in varying degrees of preservation.
Close to the city is the 600-metre-high (2,000 ft)
Monte Pellegrino ,
offering a panorama of the city, its surrounding mountains and the
Another good panoramic viewpoint is the promontory of Monte Gallo
(586 m, 1,923 ft), near
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
UNESCO World Heritage Sites include the Palazzo Reale with the
Cappella Palatina , the Chiesa di
San Giovanni degli Eremiti , the
Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio , the
Chiesa di San Cataldo ,
the Cattedrale di
Palermo , the Palazzo della Zisa and the Ponte
dell’Ammiraglio. This makes
Italy the country with the most
UNESCO world heritage sites, and
Sicily the region hosting the most
Source: ISTAT 2001
In 2010, there were 1.2 million people living in the greater Palermo
area, 655,875 of which resided in the City boundaries, of whom 47.4%
were male and 52.6% were female. People under age 15 totalled 15.6%
compared to pensioners who composed 17.2% of the population. This
compares with the Italian average of 14.1% people under 15 years and
20.2% pensioners. The average age of a
Palermo resident is 40.4
compared to the Italian average of 42.8. In the ten years between 2001
and 2010, the population of
Palermo declined by 4.5%, while the
population of Italy, as a whole, grew by 6.0%. The reason for
Palermo's decline is a population flight to the suburbs, and to
Italy . The current birth rate of
Palermo is 10.2 births per
1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.3 births.
As of 2006 , 97.79% of the population was of Italian descent. The
largest immigrant group came from
South Asia (mostly from
Sri Lanka ):
0.80%, other European countries (mostly from
Serbia , Macedonia and
Ukraine ): 0.3%, and North Africa (mostly from
Tunisia ): 0.28%.
2012 largest resident foreign-born groups
COUNTRY OF BIRTH
Being Sicily's administrative capital,
Palermo is a centre for much
of the region's finance, tourism and commerce. The city currently
hosts an international airport , and Palermo's economic growth over
the years has brought the opening of many new businesses. The economy
mainly relies on tourism and services , but also has commerce,
shipbuilding and agriculture. The city, however, still has high
unemployment levels, high corruption and a significant black market
Palermo being the home of the
Sicilian Mafia ). Even though
the city still suffers from widespread corruption, inefficient
bureaucracy and organized crime , the level of crime in
gone down dramatically, unemployment has been decreasing and many new,
profitable opportunities for growth (especially regarding tourism)
have been introduced, making the city safer and better to live in.
The local university is the
University of Palermo , the island's
second oldest university. It was officially founded in 1806, although
historical records indicate that medicine and law have been taught
there since the late 15th century. The Orto botanico di Palermo
Palermo botanical gardens) is home to the university's Department of
Botany and is also open to visitors.
Palermo hosts a professional football team, U.S. Citta di
commonly referred to as simply Palermo, who compete in
Serie A , the
top division of Italian football.
Florio was an open road endurance car race held near
Palermo. Founded in 1906, it used to be one of the oldest sports car
racing events until it was discontinued in 1977 due to safety concerns
but has since run as a rallying event.
Palermo was home to the grand
depart of the 2008 Giro d\'Italia . The initial stage was a
28.5-kilometre-long (17.7 mi) TTT (Team Time Trial ).
Internazionali Femminili di Palermo is an annual ladies
professional tennis event held in the city, which is part of the WTA
Palermo has a local railway called the
Palermo metropolitan railway
service . Palermo, AMAT Tramway System Map
Palermo's public bus system is operated by AMAT which covers a net
area of 340 km (211 mi). About 90 different routes reach every part of
Palermo has a public tram system finalized in 2015 and operated by
AMAT. There are 4 lines:
* Roccella — Central Station
* Borgo Nuovo — Notarbartolo Station
* CEP — Notarbartolo Station
* Corso Calatafimi — Notarbartolo Station
The local coach company, AST, with its coaches totalling 35 lines,
Palermo to all of the main cities in Sicily.
Palermo is a key intersection on the Sicilian road network, being the
junction between the eastern A19 motorway to
Trapani , the
southeastern A29 to airport and
Mazzara del Vallo and the southwestern
Messina and A20 to
Palermo is one of the main cities
European route E90 . The three main national roads starting from
Palermo are the SS113, SS121, SS186 and the SS624.
Palermo International Airport , known as Falcone-Borsellino Airport
(formerly Punta Raisi Airport), is located 32 km (20 mi) west of
Palermo. It is dedicated to
Giovanni Falcone and
Paolo Borsellino ,
two anti-mafia judges killed by the mafia in the early 1990s.
The airport's rail facility, known as
Punta Raisi railway station ,
can be reached from
Palermo Centrale ,
Palermo Notarbartolo and
Palermo Francia railway stations.
Palermo-Boccadifalco Airport is the second airport of the city.
The port of
Palermo , founded by the
Phoenicians over 2,700 years
ago, is, together with the port of
Messina , the main port of Sicily.
From here ferries link
Livorno , Naples
Tunis and other cities and carry a total of almost 2 million
passengers annually. It is also an important port for cruise ships.
Traffic includes also almost 5 million tonnes (5.5 million short tons)
of cargo and 80,000 TEUs yearly. The port also has links to minor
sicilian islands such as
Ustica and the
Aeolian Islands (via Cefalù
in summer). Inside the
Port of Palermo there is a section known as
"tourist marina" for sailing yachts and catamarans.
The main railway station of
Palermo Centrale which links
to the other cities of Sicily, including
Catania , and through
Messina and the strait to the rest of Italy. The
railways also connect to the
Palermo airport with departures every
The patron saint of
Saint Rosalia , who is widely revered.
On 14 July, people in
Palermo celebrate the annual Festino, the most
important religious event of the year. The Festino is a procession
which goes through the main street of
Palermo to commemorate the
miracle attributed to
Saint Rosalia who, it is believed, freed the
city from the
Black Death in 1624. Her remains were discovered in a
cave on Monte Pellegrino, and her remains were carried around the city
three times, banishing the plague. There is a sanctuary marking the
spot where her remains were found which can be reached via a scenic
bus ride from the city.
Palermo had four patron saints , one for each of the four
major parts of the city. They were Saint Agatha , Saint Christina ,
Saint Nympha and
Saint Olivia .
Saint Lucy is also honoured with a peculiar celebration, during which
the inhabitants of
Palermo do not eat anything made with flour, but
boil wheat in its natural state and use it to prepare a special dish
called cuccìa . This commemorates the saving of the city from famine
due to a miracle attributed to Saint Lucy; A ship full of grain
mysteriously arrived in the city's harbour and the hungry population
wasted no time in making flour but ate the grain as it arrived.
Saint Benedict the Moor is the heavenly protector of the city of
The ancient patron of the city was the
Genius of Palermo , genius
loci and numen protector of the place, that became the laic patron of
the modern Palermo.
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in
TWIN TOWNS AND SISTER CITIES
Palermo is twinned with:
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Khan Younis , Gaza , Palestine
* Monterey ,
California , United States
Tuscany , Italy
* Samara ,
* Santiago de
Sicily , Italy
Tbilisi , Georgia
* Utica , New York , United States
* Zagreb ,
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Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of
List of mayors of Palermo
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