On the second floor of the Palazzo dei Normanni is King Roger I’s chapel, the Cappella Palatina. The entire chapel is an amazing piece of art covered in Arab-Norman mosaics with gold background. The nave has two side aisles supported by large granite columns. The wooden ceiling is covered with carvings.
Upon entering the chapel and after you’ve had the chance to catch your breath from the sheer beauty, most people see the central apse at the altar first with the large Christ Pantocrator mosaic at the top with Mary and saints below. The sides of the nave are decorated with mosaic murals of Biblical scenes, arches depict the Old Testament prophets and kings, and the transept walls show scenes from the New Testament.
In the back of the chapel is the place where the royal throne would sit. You can see the Aragonese coat of arms in this area. An interesting paschal candelabrum made completely from one piece of white marble stands to the right of the front of the nave. This is the oldest Romanesque art in Sicily and shows animals, flowers, and humans along the tall shaft. A portrait of Roger II is carved at the foot of the candelabra.
This chapel dates back to the 1130s and was consecrated in 1140, commissioned by King Roger II to celebrate his monarchy. It was one of the highlights of my visit to Palermo.
Open Monday-Saturday 0815-1745, Sundays 0815-1300. We purchased our tickets on the back of the Palazzo dei Normanni (€8/per person, includes the tour and the chapel). This would be the same gate we exit from (keep your ticket for your exit – you’ll need it to get through the turn-stile). There are also WCs/bathrooms at the ticket counter.
I was most interested in the Norman Palace and its Cappella Palatina within the palace during my time in Palermo. The only way to see the palace is with a guided tour, which is only in Italian. However, we still took the tour and to our surprise each room (except for the first room where parliament meets) had signs with English on them. So we were able to read the signs while the tour guide talked to the rest of the group.
The Norman Palace tour begins on the top floor of the palace (the Cappella Palatina is on the second level). We waited on the steps for the tour to begin – there didn’t seem to be any times, our group went when the last group exited.
The palace is still used by the Regional Assembly and is not open on the days the assembly is in session.
The tour took us to the Assembly Hall, a series of rooms that were part of the royal apartments, and a part of the original Norman castle. The beautiful Sala di Re Ruggero has beautiful mosaics of birds and animals and dates back to King William I, the second king of Sicily (late 1100s).
We purchased our tickets on the back of the Palazzo dei Normanni (€8/per person, includes the tour and the chapel) and got a look at the interesting mix of architectural styles – Arab, Norman, and Byzantine. This would be the same gate we exit from (keep your ticket for your exit – you’ll need it to get through the turn-stile). There are also WCs/bathrooms at the ticket counter.
Open Monday-Saturday 0815-1745, Sundays 0815-1300. Parts of the Palace are closed when the Regional Assembly is meeting, typically Tuesday through Thursday.
Spanning the Corso Vittorio Emanuele next to the Palazzo dei Normanni is an arched gate known as the Porta Nuova or New Gate. The stone gate dates back to 1583 when Viceroy Colonna commissioned the structure to commemorate Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s arrival in Palermo in 1535. The gate was rebuilt in 1669 and now has a conical top with majolica tiles. On either side of the archway are two very large and sturdy telemons that represent the Moors that were defeated by Charles V.
At one time, the gate was the most important entrance by land to Palermo. The road, now known as Corso Vittorio Emanuele, leads from Palermo to Monreale.
Sembrerebbe l’ atrio interno di palazzo dei Normanni, antica residenza dei Re Norvegesi Vichingi oggi sede del governo regionale (It seems to me the Inner Patio of Norman’s Palace, ancient Norvegian king’s residence, nowaday occupied by local Sicilian government)
Palazzo Normani is one of the great symbols of the city of Palermo. Currently, it is the seat of the Sicilian Regional Government. The place is famous for being home of The Capella Palantina. The Capellla is an Arab-Norman-Byzantine masterpiece. It portrays the life of the early Christians, in the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible. As a Christian, I found it very interesting to somewhat follow my religion in its early roots. In the cappella, this is very easy to do. I felt somwhat belittled by this experience. You are just in total wonder and awe at the rich history of the capella, and the beauty of the great mosaics, which seem to glimmer in the light. You can spend hours and hours, just looking at every mosaic. Oh and if you really pay attention to detail-you may be there for the whole day. Sadly, there are no beds or cotts located in the capella; however this palazzo is home to the regional government in Italy's largest region georgraphically. My tip is to see the WHOLE palazzo, NOT JUST THE CAPELLA PALANTINA, and be sure to take a tour around its magnificent interior. You will be amazed by the long, and great history of the place. Palermo is a magnificent city, you MUST be sure to see one of its great and enduring landmarks! The Palazzo Normani is a great way to really get to know the city of Palermo, and a little bit of the region of Sicily.
The chapel is part of the palace. Both were begun by the Saracens in the 9C and remodelled, expanded and finished by Roger when he became King in 1130. Originally there was a complex of buildings which he fused over time. The Spanish touched it up too. Even General Patton enjoyed living in it in WW II. The mosaic work is of 1140 like at the Matorana. (Monreale mosaics are from the 1180's). Others on the side walls of the nave are 13C. The display is overwhelming but more compact than Monreale. This is the pulpit seen as you enter and to its right a stupendous carved candlestick. Do not walk by it and miss it, as you are swept away by the rest. The colorful display prompted us to make a Travelog from the numerous pictures
It´s not the palace itself you come here for, but the mosaics in the Capella Palatina. Once inside, you will see the walls and ceiling covered with breathtaking mosaics, only rivaled on this island by the mosaics in Monreale. Take your time to see everything and don´t let yourself be sent away by the guards who seem to be a little edgy now and then.
This Norman Castle or "Zisa Castle" was completed by William II during the 12th century, and is considered one of the most magnificent Arab-Norman structures in the world
The palace currently plays host to the regional parliament. For this reason, there's pretty heavy security and much of it is closed to visitors.
The Norman Palace, which also contains the famous, richly decorated Capella Palatina. This is the Porta Nuova, through which the road passes under the palace.
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