Palazzo dei Normanni

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Norman part
Renaissance wing
Session room of parliament

The Palazzo dei Normanni ("Norman Palace "), also called Palazzo Reale ("Royal Palace"), is a palace in Palermo . The palace stands at the highest point in the medieval urban area.


The oldest parts of the walls on an elevation between two rivers are still of Phoenician - Carthaginian origin. In the 9th century, the summer residence of the Emir of Palermo was built on the old foundations . After the conquest of Sicily by the Normans (see: Norman Conquest of Southern Italy ), Roger II converted this residence into his seat of government, in which the Norman kings of Sicily then resided. Hence the name Palazzo reale (Royal Palace) or Palazzo dei Normanni (Norman Palace)

After the end of the political independence of Sicily, the palace fell into disrepair, as the viceroys of Sicily initially resided in the Palazzo Chiaramonte . It was not until the 16th century that they rebuilt the old Norman palace and relocated there. During this reconstruction, three of the four towers of the Norman Palace were demolished. The east wing received a new facade and a courtyard in the Renaissance style . An observatory was set up on the remaining Torre Pisana in 1790 . Because of the occupation of Naples by Napoleonic troops, the palace served as the residence of the Bourbon-Sicily royal family from 1798 to 1814 .

After Sicily was annexed to Italy, state authorities and military command posts were housed in the palace. Since 1947 the palace has been the seat of the Parliament of Sicily .

The outer

On the south side towards Via del Bastione and on the west side towards Piazza Indipendenza, the grounds of the palace rise above the street level over mighty foundation walls. On the north side of the palace is the Porta Nuova , which Charles V built in place of the old city gate after his victory in Tunis. On the east side, in front of the palace, is the Piazza del Parlamento, which merges into the Piazza Vittoria with the “Villa Bonanno” park.

In some places, the old facade from the Norman era, which is decorated with blind arcades, is still preserved. The Torre Pisana, the last remaining tower from the Norman era, is located on the Piazza del Parlamento. The renaissance facade adjoins it to the south, which characterizes the appearance of the east side of the palace. In the middle there is a large portal that forms the official entrance. The access for sightseeing, however, is on the west side at Piazza Indipendenza.

The inner

Exposed parts of the Arabic vaulted ceiling in one of the halls of the Duke of Montalto

Both the main entrance and the visitor entrance lead into an inner courtyard with Renaissance arcades , which was built between 1598 and 1601 by order of the viceroy Bernandino de Cárdenas, Duke of Maqueda, and which is named after him. The mosaics on the first floor date from the 19th century, only remnants of the original decoration have been preserved on one of the arches. Along the north side of the courtyard on the first floor extends the Cappella Palatina , the court chapel built by Roger II in the Arab-Byzantine-Norman style , the walls of which are covered over and over with gold mosaics.

The part of the palace used by the Sicilian Parliament and the regional government is only accessible to the public via guided tours. The session room of the parliament is the “Sala di Ercole” (Hercules room) from the end of the 16th century. It was painted in 1799 by Giuseppe Velazquez with frescoes depicting the deeds of Hercules.

The “Sala dei Venti” (room of the winds) and the “Stanza di Ruggero” (Roger's room) date from the Norman era. The Hall of the Winds is a square room, the ceiling of which is supported by columns and pointed arches. Originally it was an open atrium . There is a door on each of the four sides. One of them leads into Roger's room. The interior decoration was 1160 under William I run. The walls are paneled with marble, above the walls are covered with gold ground mosaics, similar to the churches of that time ( Cappella Palatina , La Martorana , Cathedral of Monreale ). The mosaics represent trees and animals that are symmetrically facing each other. A hunting scene and fighting centaurs are also shown. The room has a cross vault, which is also covered with mosaics.

In rooms that were redesigned during the Renaissance period, parts of the Arabic vaulted ceiling that were hidden behind the stucco have recently been exposed in a few places .


Excavations were carried out under the Norman Palace, which uncovered ancient city walls from the time of the Punians and the Romans. Some of these excavations are open to the public.

See also


  • Brigit Carnabuci: Sicily. Greek temples, Roman villas, Norman cathedrals and baroque cities in the center of the Mediterranean (=  DuMont art travel guide ). 6th, updated edition. DuMont Reiseverlag, Ostfildern 2011, ISBN 978-3-7701-4385-6 .
  • Adolph Goldschmidt : The Norman royal palaces in Palermo . In: Zeitschrift für Bauwesen 48 (1898), pp. 542-590 with illustrations on pages 56-59 in the atlas ( text , atlas online ).
  • Hans-Rudolf Meier: The Norman royal palaces in Palermo. Studies on high mediaeval residential architecture = manuscripts for art studies in the Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft 42. Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft , Worms 1994. ISBN 978-3-88462-941-3

Web links

Commons : Palazzo dei Normanni (Palermo)  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Cappella Palatina (Palermo)  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 38 ° 6 ′ 40.5 ″  N , 13 ° 21 ′ 11.8 ″  E