Palermo boasts an enviable thousand-year history and this is testified by the numerous buildings dating back to different eras that can be found scattered throughout the urban fabric. One of the most important is undoubtedly the Palazzo dei Normanni with the adjoining Palatine Chapel, no less than the oldest royal residence in Europe.
Here is some practical information on how to reach the palace and some historical information / curiosities and advice on how to best enjoy the visit.
- Hours and prices
- Online tickets and guided tours
- What to see and how to visit Palazzo dei Normanni and Cappella Palatina
- Useful tips for visiting the attraction
- Where is it and how to get there
- Historical notes, curiosities and practical info: what to know in brief
- User questions and comments
Hours and prices
- Monday to Saturday from 8:15 am to 17:40 pm (last admission around 17.00:8 pm). Sundays and holidays from 15:13 to 00:12 (last admission at 15:9). As for the Palatine Chapel, visits are not allowed from 45:11 am to 15: am for religious functions on Sundays and special holidays (Christmas, Patron Saint's Day, etc.). The royal apartments cannot be visited on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Best time to avoid queues: we advise you to visit the Palace shortly after opening hours or in the early afternoon to avoid too many tourists.
- the full fare ticket costs € 12,00 (including access to the royal apartments + Palatine Chapel), € 10,00 in case of access only to the Chapel.
- Reductions: students, under 25 and disabled € 10,00 (access to the royal apartments + Chapel), € 8,00 with access only to the Chapel. Over € 658,00, children between 14 and 17 years € 4,00.
Online tickets and guided tours
What to see and how to visit Palazzo dei Normanni and Cappella Palatina
Il Norman Palace (or Palazzo Reale) of Palermo is, as we anticipated, the oldest royal residence built in Europe and, currently, it is also the seat of the Sicilian Regional Assembly. For this reason, we can understand the importance of this building not only as part of the historical heritage of the city (since 2015, also part of the World Heritage Sites), but also as a symbolic-administrative building of today.
The complex includes very different environments, many of which date back to different historical periods: the foundations of the Palace, for example, incorporate stratifications of fortified settlements of Phoenician origin, but it is also possible to find evidence of Greek-Roman, Byzantine, Arab, as well as (obviously) Norman remains.
The set of buildings, however, generates externally a structure in the shape of an inverted fork, whose southern arms intersect those of the Palatine Chapel creating two beautiful internal courtyards. Of the four original towers, only two remain today: the Pisan tower is that Joaria, both quadrangular in shape.
Inside the palace, the rooms are mainly divided into two levels.
First level - Palatine Chapel
A three-nave basilica dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. The Chapel was consecrated for the first time in April 1140, as a private chapel commissioned by Ruggero II, and still holds many treasures today. What is most surprising are the Byzantine mosaics of the upper part, depicting evangelical scenes and considered by many to be among the most important mosaics in the whole country. Above all, Christ Pantocrator stands out inside the dome.
The imposing royal throne and the beautiful wooden ceiling with the muqarnas, paintings of Arab origin. Is one extraordinary example of even religious integration as in each segment animals, dancers, scenes from the life of the Islamic courts are represented, and even depictions of the Koran's paradise.
Second level - Royal Apartments and Halls of the Palace
Here you can visit some areas of fundamental importance for the history of Palermo. Among others, we point out the Hall of Hercules (or Hall of Parliament), the Hall of the Viceroys, in which 21 portraits of viceroys, lieutenants and illustrious personalities of the Sicilian past are exhibited, the former royal apartments and the Hall of the Winds, an ancient chapel dedicated to Santa Maria Superiore built around the year 1000 and converted to profane use in 1520. The wooden skylight vault in this room is extraordinarily beautiful, depicting the Rose of the winds.
Useful tips for visiting the attraction
- Get up early enough: the ideal would be to reach the entrance of the Palace by 9:00 am;
- Priority ticket: especially in the case of large groups, it is advisable to purchase a ticket with priority entrance to avoid queues and facilitate scrolling at the cash desks.
- Watch how you move: we remind you that you are inside one of the most important historic buildings not only in Palermo, but throughout Italy. For this reason, once inside the rooms, we advise you to pay attention to how you move in the spaces, especially please do not touch anything: respect and education are of fundamental importance even during these pleasure visits. !
- Minimum time: we advise you to consider a minimum of two hours for the visit, even if with all the things that there are to see (including the Palatine Chapel) you could spend a whole day inside this splendid structure.
Where is it and how to get there
- On foot: Piazza Indipendenza, about 1,5 km from the central station, about 400 meters from the Cathedral and from the beginning of Corso Vittorio Emanuele - Get directions
- By bus: Piazza Indipendenza is a crucial hub for city buses. Here the lines 100, 104, 106, 110, 327, 806, 812 stop.
Historical notes, curiosities and practical info: what to know in brief
The history behind the Norman Palace is rich and troubled, so much so that from the Norman period (1072) to the present day the seat of the Palermitan royals has passed from hand to hand, using different functions according to the will of the owner of the moment.
During the Swabian domination (1100), for example, the palace was used as a seat of science and letters. After 1259, a long period of abandonment and decay began which lasted until 1517, when the structure was occupied by the Bourbon kings.
Hard hit during the years of the revolutionary uprisings for the unification of Italy, the Palace was first granted to the army and then used for cultural purposes from 1919 onwards.
In this regard, an episode dates back to this period that intrigued and attracted everyone's attention to the palace, no longer just famous as the home of the powerful Sicilian rulers (including Frederick II): during the restoration of the Palatine Chapel in 1921 , in fact, it seems that inside the Pisan Tower a room full of priceless treasures was found by pure chance (ancient parchments, vestments, gold and silver coins, precious urns, etc.).
Today many of those pieces are no longer found inside the Palazzo for security reasons, but if you still have some time left during your stay in Palermo, you could go and admire them at the city's Fine Arts Gallery (discounted for holders of the Palermo card).