Palermo: A Photo Tour

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The exterior of Palermo cathedral.

I loved Sicily’s beguiling (but exhausting) capital city. But be warned: it’s bigger than you think and your feet will take a pounding! Make sure you pack some comfy shoes.

As the meeting point between East and West, Europe and Africa, Palermo was exposed to a huge variety of influences resulting in plenty of incredible architecture. This sunny city boasts a huge number of attractions for such an under-the-radar destination, but don’t forget to set aside some time for simply wandering around the old town and its vibrant markets. Then head to the beach at nearby Mondello or Cefalu to rest your feet.

Read More: Palermo Highlights: The Top 15 Things to See, Do and Eat

A great place to start is the Cathedral. The focal point here is the spectacular exterior, rather than the interior which is fairly austere. As well as visiting the roof (tickets around 7 EUR), don’t forget to walk around the outside of the cathedral—the detailing is spectacular.

Palermo Duomo's exterior arches

Panoramic view from the roof top of Palermo Cathedral

View from Rinascente shopping centre across Piazza San Domenico

Palermo is full of great viewpoints for photos. You can climb to the domes of many of the churches. This photo is taken from the rooftop cafe on the 5th floor of the Rinascente shopping centre, looking out on Piazza San Domenico.

Nude nymph in Palermo's Fontana Pretoria

Carved elephant in Palermo's Fountains of Shame

One of around fifty nude figures in Piazza Pretoria’s Fountains of Shame, with the dome of rose-coloured San Caterina in the background.

Piazza Pretoria, Palermo

This building on Piazza Pretoria is characteristic of Palermo’s facades in warm ochre colours.

Turks, Puorto Nuova, Palermo

Intriguing figures from the Porto Nuovo, near the Norman Palace. Styled like a triumphal arch in celebration of Charles V’s capture of Tunis, look closer and you’ll notice this defeated Turk (see the turbans and ‘tach) has had his arms chopped off in warning to potential aggressors.

Close up of artichokes in Palermo market

Artichokes (carciofi) are in season in April, and you’ll see piles of them (both regular sized and mini) at the markets.

Exterior of Palazzo Reale, Palermo

The exterior of Palermo’s main tourist attraction, the Norman Palace.

A crate of oranges glow in Palermo market

The area around Monreale, not far from Palermo, is renowned for its citrus. Don’t forget to try blood oranges, if in season, citron, or grab a freshly-squeezed juice from the market.

Christ Pantocrator apse mosaic in Palatine Chapel

The dazzling mosaic of Christ Pantocrator in the Palatine Chapel, within the Norman Palace.

Interior of La Martorana church, Palermo

The interior of La Martorana. This one actually took my breath away when I entered the church.

Interior of Palermo's Teatro Massimo opera house

Exterior of Palermo's Teatro Massimo opera house

Palermo’s opera house, the Teatro Massimo. Guided tours are available (including another rooftop viewpoint) so you can visit even if you don’t want to attend a show. The main gate is a popular meeting point for tour groups.

Tall palms and rooftops

The presence of date palms in Palermo hint at its proximity to Africa.

Street art in Il Capo

Icon, scooter and archway in Il Capo, Palermo

Old buildings in Il Capo neighbourhood, Palermo old town

You could spend days getting lost in the old town area of Palermo; it’s one of the largest in Europe. Life is largely lived outdoors here, making the streets full of surprises.

Marsala barrels in a Vucciria bar

Palermo is not far from the town of Marsala and it’s famous sweet wines.

Sicilian baroque in San Domenico, Palermo

This inlaid marble technique is one feature of Sicily’s own distinctive form of baroque. It’s just a little bit OTT but rather spectacular.

Quattro Canti ornate facade

One of the ornate facades of the Quattro Canti.

Piles of veg in Mercato del Capo

Street life near Vucciria market

Sfincione street vendor

Palermitan spleen sandwich in hand

Palermo’s outdoor markets are a big feature of life here. You won’t find many supermarkets. The most famous street food is pani ca’ meusa—spleen sandwich. But don’t worry non-offal-lovers, sfincione (tomato topped focaccia) and chickpea fritters are available throughout the city.

Butchers and old buildings around Mercato del Capo

A carretto siciliano scene featuring knights

A scene from a colourful carretto siciliano, a traditional horse-drawn cart decorated with scenes of Sicily’s history.

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Palermo Cathedral with text overlay '28 Photos to Make You Want to Visit Palermo'

 

 

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