Palermo boasts an enviable thousand-year history and this is testified by the numerous attractions of different eras scattered throughout the urban fabric. Among the most important historical buildings there is certainly 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 / curiosities and advice on how to best enjoy the visit.

Timetables and prices

  • Hours: Mon-Sat 8: 15-17: 40 approximately (last admission 17:00). Sundays and holidays 8: 15-13: 00 (last admission 12:15). Palatine Chapel not open from 9:45 am to 11:15 am for religious function on Sundays and religious holidays (Christmas, Patron Saint’s Day, etc.). Royal apartments not open to visitors 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.
  • Ticket price: full € 14.50 (includes Royal Apartments and Palatine Chapel)
  • Reductions : children between 14 and 17 years € 9.00; children between 18 and 25 years € 12.50; EU citizens Over 65 € 11.00,

Get around with the panoramic bus : Palazzo dei Normanni is part of the panoramic bus route, which connects the Quattro Canti, the Massimo Theater, the Politeama Theater, the Cathedral, and all the other main attractions. If you intend to visit these places in one or two days, we recommend that you buy a bus ticket, so you can get on and off as you please.

Online tickets and guided tours

What to see and how to visit Norman Palace and Palatine Chapel
Photo by Andrea Schaffer. The Palazzo dei Normanni (or Palazzo Reale) in 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 remains. , as well as (obviously) Normans.
The ensemble of buildings, however, generates externally a structure in the shape of an upside-down fork, whose southern arms intersect those of the Palatine Chapel creating two beautiful internal courtyards. Of the four original towers, today only two remain: the Pisana Tower and the Joaria Tower , 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 Roger 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, the Christ Pantocrator stands out inside the dome.
Also of note is the imposing royal throne and the beautiful wooden ceiling with muqarnas, paintings of Arab origin. It is an extraordinary example of religious integration as in every segment there are animals, dancers, scenes from the life of the Islamic courts, and even representations of the paradise of the Koran .

Second level – Royal Apartments and Halls of the Palace
Photo by Archaeologist. Here you can visit some areas of fundamental importance for the history of Palermo. Among others, we point out the Sala d’Ercole (or Hall of Parliament), the Sala dei Vicere, in which 21 portraits of viceroys, lieutenants and illustrious characters of the Sicilian past are exhibited, the former royal apartments and the Sala dei Venti, 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

  1. Get up early enough : the ideal would be to reach the entrance to the Palace by 9:00 am;
  2. Reach it with the panoramic bus : Palazzo di Normanni is a bit far from the other attractions of the center. If you suffer too much from the heat and don’t want to walk, buy a ticket for the panoramic bus to reach it.
  3. 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 in 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, different functions according to the will of the owner of the moment.
During the Swabian domination (1100), for example, the building 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 kings (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, sacred vestments, gold and silver coins, precious urns, etc.).
Today many of those pieces are no longer found inside the Palazzo for safety 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).

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