Palazzo dei Normanni (Palazzo Reale)

The Royal Palace of Palermo and its stunning Cappella Palatina mosaics

Most of the royal palace itself—built by the Saracens are a defensive castle, then enlarged into a royal palace by the Normans in 1130 (Roger II, William I, William II, and Frederick II all held court here) and further adapted by the Aragonese in the 16th century—has been closed to visitors for years.

If this policy changes—as they insist it soon will—the royal apartments are little to write home about, but don't miss the mosaicked Sala di Re Ruggiero.

The Cappella Palatina

Even with the palace part closed, the tour buses still line up at the back, bringing visitors to file into Palermo's most stunning sight, the Byzantine Greek mosaics of the ★★★ Cappella Palatina, built by Roger II in the 1130s and 40s. It takes the form of a tiny basilica, every inch swathed in rich religious mosaics that also symbolically glorify the enlightened reign of Roger II.

The craftsmanship is exquisite, using not only gold-backed tessere but also silver mosaic tiles to cause the softly lit surfaces to sparkle and gleam in a kaleidoscope of saints and Old Testament characters.

The mosaics on the nave walls date a bit later (1150s) and exhibit a more Roman styling, while the mosaicked Christ with Sts. Peter and Paul above the Norman throne are 15th-century.

 

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Tips & links

Details

★★ Palazzo dei Normanni (Palazzo Reale) & the Cappella Palatina
Piazza Indipendenza/Piazza del Parlamento
tel. +39-091-626-2833
www.federicosecondo.org
www.ars.sicilia.it
Open Mon–Sat 8:15am–5:45pm
Open Sun 8:15am–1pm
» Hours frequently changed or visits suspended during meeting of assembly or religious services in the cappella
» Cappella Palatina closed Sun 9:45am–11:15am
» Royal apartments closed Tues and Thurs
Adm: €12

Bus: 104, 105, 108, 109, 110, 118, 304, 305, 309, 318, 327, 339, 364, 365, 368, 380, 389

Planning your time

Expect to spend about 20–30 minutes in here—but add another 15–20 minutes to get here, since it isn't exactly in the center of town. Best to budget a full hour.

Be sure it's open

Before trekking up here, check out the website (www.federicosecondo.org) and double-check in person at the tourist office what the palazzo's open hours will be while you'll be in town.

This palace is used by the regional government, and when the assembly is in session, tourist visits are not permitted (to whit: Currently, the government uses the Royal Apartments on Tuesdays and Thursdays—you can still get into the Cappella Palatina, but not the rest of the palazzo).

Also, the Cappella Palatina is frequently closed for religious services—a half hour here, an hour there, several times a week—so it really pays to check ahead of time.

Night hours in the Summer

For the past several years, from late June through early October, the palazzo has hosted Notti Palatine (www.nottipalatine.it), guided tours of the palazzo—and, on some nights, musical concerts of other events—Tuesday to Saturday between 8am and midnight.

Tourist info

Palermo tourist office
Piazza Castelnuovo 34
tel. +39-091-605-8351
www.turismopalermo.it
www.provincia.palermo.it/turismo

Also useful:
www.comune.palermo.it
www.palermotourism.com

Buses: www.amat.pa.it
Trains: www.trenitalia.com
Airport: www.gesap.it
Port: www.portpalermo.it

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Details
★★ Palazzo dei Normanni (Palazzo Reale) & the Cappella Palatina
Piazza Indipendenza/Piazza del Parlamento
tel. +39-091-626-2833
www.federicosecondo.org
www.ars.sicilia.it
Open Mon–Sat 8:15am–5:45pm
Open Sun 8:15am–1pm
» Hours frequently changed or visits suspended during meeting of assembly or religious services in the cappella
» Cappella Palatina closed Sun 9:45am–11:15am
» Royal apartments closed Tues and Thurs
Adm: €12

Bus: 104, 105, 108, 109, 110, 118, 304, 305, 309, 318, 327, 339, 364, 365, 368, 380, 389
Tourist Info

Palermo tourist office
Piazza Castelnuovo 34
tel. +39-091-605-8351
www.turismopalermo.it
www.provincia.palermo.it/turismo

Also useful:
www.comune.palermo.it
www.palermotourism.com

Buses: www.amat.pa.it
Trains: www.trenitalia.com
Airport: www.gesap.it
Port: www.portpalermo.it


Palermo lodging
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Reid's Recommended hotels in Palermo
★★ Centrale Palace Hotel [€€]
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