“Sicily has suffered 13 foreign dominations from which she has taken both the best and the worst. The sequence of different cultures has made Sicily a fascinating place, quite unlike any other.” - Andrea Camilleri, Italian writer
Have you heard of any city which was subjected to over ten foreign dominations? Throughout history, Sicily has been influenced by the Greek, Arab-Muslim, Spanish, and French cultures, among others. That makes it fascinating to walk through the streets of Palermo, learn about its history, and marvel at different types of architecture.
If this is your first time in Palermo, make sure to visit the Cathedral of Palermo, the Norman Palace and the Cappella Palatina (The Palatine Chapel), Pretoria Fountain (the Fountain of Shame), the Church of Jesu, the Massimo Theater (one of the largest theaters in Europe), and the Canti Quarter. All of these sights are within walking distance, and Palermo is a walkable city in general.
The Massimo Theater is my favorite in particular. It is the largest theater in Italy and the third largest in Europe (after the ones in Paris and Vienna). The film Godfather was even filmed there. All of this information I learned from a fantastic guided tour, which I highly recommend. The tours are available in Italian and English.
Another architectural masterpiece that I enjoyed was the Cappella Palatina inside the Norman Palace. Its mosaics are illuminating and typical of the ostentatious Byzantine style. If you are a student of art, architecture or cultural heritage in Italy, make sure to let the staff know so that you can get in the attraction for free.
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