Porta Felice, which exits Via Vittorio Emanuele towards the coast, was built in 1637. The right side was badly damaged during World War II bombing, but has now been restored.
Church of San Cataldo
Next to the Matorana church – in the photo is the building with the red domes – is the church of San Cataldo, which was originally built as a mosque. It is not gender, but the Arab architecture is clear.
The large fountain facility was created in Tuscany in the 16th century by a Francesco Camilliani at the request of Duke Pedro of Toledo, who wanted to place it in his villa in Florence. But after the Duke’s death, his son was in financial embarrassment and therefore sold it to Palermo’s town hall.
This square is almost a large lawn surrounded by roads and bombed houses – a reminder of the intensive bombing of the city during World War II, where this whole area was bombed and due to poverty, the reconstruction has not yet been completed.
Marionette International Museum
At Piazzetta Niscemi by Via Butera, there is a puppet and puppet theater, which the Danish director Marianne Vibæk has made an attraction. Here are more than 3,000 puppets and a stage on which puppet theater is played.
Towards the sea
Between the “beach road” and the coast there is a large, green area that the Palermitans use for recreation.
Villa Giulia and Orto Botanoco
Villa Giulia is a beautifully landscaped park with orange trees and sculptures. Orto Botanico next door is the city’s botanical garden founded in 1875.
Opposite Villa Giulia on Piazzetta Porta Reale is the Rosanero bar, known for its good quality products. An arancino here is highly recommended.
Chiesa di Sant’Anna
In the monastery of this disused church there is a small but good art museum, suitable in size, if you want to see a little art without spending many hours indoors.
The neighborhood north of Kalsa and Via Vittorio Emanuele is called La Loggia and also bears the name Mandamento Castellammare. The latter name refers to the “Castle by the Sea”, in Italian Castello al Mare. The castle was destroyed during the siege of Palermo in 1860.
At the northern end of this area are a number of squares in line with each other and give a nice, airy impression here in the middle of the historic center’s otherwise narrow streets.
From here you can get on a sightseeing tour around the city with a double-decker bus. It is relatively expensive; but the ticket is valid for 24 hours and in addition to being able to hop on and off the sightseeing buses as you wish, you can also go to Monreale, where there is a fantastic cathedral, to a beach or to Palermo’s promontory. When buying tickets, you will receive a pair of headphones that can be connected to a socket at each seat. Here you can choose a guide in eight different languages.
At the end of the easternmost square is one of the city’s most beautiful buildings, Politeama Garibaldi, which houses both a theater and a gallery of modern art. The Sicilian Symphony Orchestra also holds concerts here, which can be recommended if you need a respite from the hectic city.
West of La Loggia and Via Maqueda is Il Capo, one of Palermo’s well-known market areas. The market stretches across the streets of Via Carini e Beato Paoli, Via di S. Agostino and Via Cappuccinelle. The very colorful and lively market is open every morning and offers ample opportunity to buy both food and other things. Originally, it was Augustinian monks from the Church of San Agostino who settled in the area around their church. The streets of the area have distinctive names not seen elsewhere: Via Sedie Volante – The Road of the Flying Chairs, Via Gioia Mia – The Road of My Joy.
If you turn in through Capo towards Via Maqueda, you come to the Teatro Massimo. With its floor plan of 7,730 m2, this building from 1897 is one of Europe’s largest opera houses. In the hall there are five balcony floors that can accommodate a total of 3,200 guests.
To get to the Norman Palace from Le Terrazze, you have to go through the large city gate, Porta Nuova, which overlooks Via Vittorio Emanuele. It was erected as a triumphal arch in the 16th century as a tribute to Charles V, who had taken over the city. The upper part of the city gate can be seen from the terraces of Le Terrazze.
San Giovanni degli Eremiti
In this neighborhood you will also find the church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, where the Benedictines once lived. It was built by Roger II in 1142. Today it is ripped and empty inside, as it is no longer used. When it is mentioned anyway, it is because of its architecture. There is no doubt that Roger used Arab architects when looking at its five large, red domes.