The most beautiful churches in Palermo

Palermo - the oldest port of the Mediterranean Sea on the island of Sicily, from the time it was founded, different peoples have repeatedly conquered it. Each ethnos brought its cultural and religious features to the city. Today, 295 parishes operate in Palermo, of which the following churches are most popular with tourists: the Cathedral, La Martorana, the Palatine Chapel, San Caldo. These temples can be seen walking on foot in the city center.


The middle name of the Cathedral (La Cattedrale di Palermo) is the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Cattedrale di Vergine Assunta). The cathedral was founded around the 4th century AD. e. in honor of the first Christian martyr. However, over the centuries, it was rebuilt and changed, preserving the features of various cultures in its appearance. The Arabs, who captured the city in 831, founded a mosque in the church, which was subsequently re-lit according to Christian canons. The building of the cathedral cannot be attributed to a certain style of architecture; it retained the features of Gothic, Classicism and Oriental culture.

For several centuries, pilgrims visit the temple to pray to Saint Rosalia, who, according to legend, stopped the plague that swept Palermo in the 17th century. Another shrine of the cathedral is the statue of the Virgin with the Baby and the royal tombs, where all the emperors who ruled Sicily from the 12th to the 14th centuries are buried. Palermo clergy are buried in the crypt of the cathedral. Among them, St. Nicodemus, who lived in the XI century and preserves the Christian faith during the reign in the city of Muslims. Also in the cathedral is a treasury with royal jewels.

  • Address: Corso Vittorio Emanule
  • Hours: daily, Mon - Fri from 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat., Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Prices: admission to the cathedral is free, and to the treasury and crypt - 3 euros for adults, for children 50 cents.
  • Official website:

La martorana

Church of Martorana (La Martorana) belongs to the Italian-Albanian diocese, it was founded in the XII century, under King Roger II (Ruggero II di Sicilia). The Greek church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio was originally built, which in the 15th century was merged with a convent located nearby. Since that time, the church began to conduct services in the Latin rite, and the church began to bear the name of La Martoran in honor of the founders of the monastery, Geoffrey and Eloise Martoran. In the XX century, it was transferred to the Albanian community, which resumed worship according to the Byzantine canons.

During the construction, the architectural influences of the Arabic, Romanesque and Byzantine style were used, thanks to this the temple is decorated with ornaments, intricate patterns, inlays typical of mosques, Greek mosaics, as well as the Romanesque four-tier bell tower. In the XVI century the church was significantly changed, new annexes were made, the facade and interior were supplemented with baroque elements. The surviving Byzantine mosaic of the church is the oldest in Sicily.

  • Address: Piazza Bellini, 6

San cataldo

San Cataldo Church (San Cataldo), adorned with three red domes, is another example of mixing Arabian, Norman, and Byzantine architecture. In the past, the building served as a temple at the palace of the first Minister of Sicily, Mayo from Baria (Maione di Bari). The huge mansion in turn passed from one king of Sicily to another. By tradition, each owner rebuilt the residence, adding features of a new era. Centuries later, in the 19th century, the palace was demolished and the church became open to the public. The architect Giuseppe Patricolo restored the building, restoring the Arab-Norman appearance.

  • Address: Piazza Bellini, 2
  • Free admission

Monastery of San Giovanni degli Eremiti

Visiting La Martorana, you can go to the monastery of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, which is located nearby. High towers with oriental arches and red domes give out belonging to the Arab-Norman style. In the VI century, the early Christian monastery was founded, which the Arabs converted into a mosque. In 1136, Roger II returned to his original appointment.

  • Address: Via dei Benedettini 3
  • Free admission

Palatine Chapel

The Palatine Chapel (Cappella Palatina) or essentially a home church was built in the Norman Palace in Palermo at the beginning of the reign of Roger II in 1130. The emperor spared no time and money to equip the church: the best masters of Byzantine mosaic and Arabic architecture were invited here. In the interior of the chapel, elements of various styles were deliberately combined. Arched windows, a carved stalactite ceiling, characteristic of Egypt and the Maghreb countries, were borrowed from Arabic.

Under the chapel is a crypt that served as a chapel of Roger II, later it became the tomb of the representatives of the imperial family. To this day, the relics of the 12th century are kept in the church: a fresco of the Virgin and Child, a wooden cross and a letter of honor from Roger II.

  • Address: Piazza Indipendenza
  • Tourists are not allowed to attend Mass.

La magione

The church of La Magione (Chiesa della Magione) was founded in the period from 1150 to 1190 and consecrated in honor of the Holy Trinity. At that time, the influence of the east was already weakened in Sicily, so the temple building is a three-nave basilica. La Magione belongs to the late Norman period, for which the nature of simplicity, monumentality, a minimal amount of decor. The facade and interior of the church is very simple and ascetic. The only elegant architecture element is the lancet arches with columns.

  • Address: Via Magione 44

Watch the video: Best Views of the Amazing Churches of Palermo, Sicily, Italy (February 2020).


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