Interesting facts about Palermo


Palermo is one of the major cities of Italy, and the historical and administrative capital of Sicily.

It is located in the northwest of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

As of May 2020, the population of Palermo is about 700,000 people. It is the 5th largest city in Italy.

The city covers a total area of 159 square kilometers (61 square miles).

The average altitude is 14 metres (46 feet) above sea level.


The city was founded in 734 BC by the Phoenicians as Ziz.

Palermo then became a possession of Carthage.

Two Greek colonies were established, known collectively as Panormos or “All-Port” – the Carthaginians used this name on their coins after the 5th century BC.

As Panormus, the town became part of the Roman Republic and Empire for over a thousand years.

From 831 to 1072 the city was under Arab rule during the Emirate of Sicily when the city first became a capital. The Arabs shifted the Greek name into Balarm, the root for Palermo’s present-day name.


Following the Norman reconquest, Palermo became the capital of a new kingdom (from 1130 to 1816), the Kingdom of Sicily and the capital of the Holy Roman Empire under Emperor Frederick II and King Conrad IV.

In 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi seized Palermo, which the following year joined the united kingdom of Italy.


The city was severely bombed in July 1943, when it was taken by Allied troops. Parts of old Palermo, where buildings were destroyed during World War II, remained unrestored into the 1990s.

Palermo is Sicily’s cultural, economic and tourism capital. Numerous tourists are attracted to the city for its good Mediterranean weather, its renowned gastronomy and restaurants, its Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau churches, palaces and buildings, and its nightlife and music.

Palermo Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Palermo, located in Palermo. It is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. As an architectural complex, it is characterized by the presence of different styles, due to a long history of additions, alterations and restorations, the last of which occurred in the 18th century.

Palermo Cathedral

The Palazzo dei Normanni (Norman Palace) or Royal Palace of Palermo is a palace in Palermo. It was the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination and served afterwards as the main seat of power for the subsequent rulers of Sicily. Since 1946 it has been the seat of the Sicilian Regional Assembly. The building is the oldest royal residence in Europe – and was the private residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Sicily and the imperial seat of Frederick II and Conrad IV. The palace is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

palazzo dei normanni

The Palatine Chapel, is the royal chapel of the Norman palace. This building is a mixture of Byzantine, Norman and Fatimid architectural styles, showing the tricultural state of Sicily during the 12th century after Roger II’s father and uncle conquered the island. The sanctuary, dedicated to Saint Peter, is reminiscent of a domed basilica.

The Cathedral of Monreale is one of the greatest existent examples of Norman architecture, it was begun in 1174 by William II of Sicily. In 1182 the church, dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, was, by a bull of Pope Lucius III, elevated to the rank of a metropolitan cathedral. The church is a national monument of Italy and one of the most important attractions of Sicily. Its size is 102 meters (335 feet) long and 40 meters (130 feet) wide.

Cathedral of Monreale

The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele is an opera house and opera company located on the Piazza Verdi in Palermo. It was dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II. It is the biggest in Italy, and one of the largest of Europe (at the time of its inauguration, it was – with its area of 7,730 square meters (83,205 square feet) – the third largest opera house in Europe after the Palais Garnier in Paris, and the K. K. Hof-Opernhaus in Vienna), renowned for its perfect acoustics.

teatro massimo vittorio emanuele

Quattro Canti, officially known as Piazza Vigliena, is a Baroque square in Palermo. Marking the epicentre of the old city, the junction is framed by a perfect circle of curvilinear facades that disappear up to the blue vault of the sky in a clever display of perspective. Each facade lights up in turn throughout the course of the day, landing it the nickname Il Teatro del Sole (Theatre of the Sun).

quattro canti

Roman Catholicism is highly important in Palermitan culture.

The Patron Saint of Palermo is Santa Rosalia whose Feast Day is celebrated on 15 July.

Palermo was one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean and is now among the top tourist destinations in both Italy and Europe.

The city attracts significant numbers of tourists each year and is widely known for its colourful fruit, vegetable and fish markets at the heart of Palermo, known as Vucciria, BallarĂ² and Capo.