Architecture and decorations
the Zisa

An architectural crescendo

The palace was designed according to harmonious metrics, where the golden ratio is often found in its measurements. It has a parallelepiped shape and a compact, austere volume, lightened only by the rooms in the façade which are inserted in a rhythmic, discreet way.
The ground floor is distinguished by the presence of a large porticoed corridor , open on the short sides, and with three access arches , with double pointed arches , on the main façade.
The larger central archway corresponds to the arch framing the entrance to the fountain room .
Along the axis of this space is the channel that connects the internal basins, fed by the fountain on the wall of the room, with the small fishpond, located outside, in front of the façade, in a symmetrical position.

Fountain Room: overview
The Fountain Room is the luxurious reception room of the Norman rulers. An Islamic style iwan, it projects outwards, in ideal connection with the surrounding park and in axis with the main entrance in a predominant position compared to the other rooms. It takes the form of a large hall opening onto the vestibule through an ogival arch supported by paired marble columns. The hall’s interior is cruciform in shape with large decorated and vaulted niches and muqarnas. The entire room is decorated with mosaics and marble inlays in opus sectile and columns with capitals of Islamic origin. The mosaic ornaments on the western side of the fountain room are an original example of secular mosaics, which do not deal with themes related to ecclesiastical life. In the part below the mosaics, water flowed through a marble slab into a gutter at floor level, interspersed with basins and decorations in opus sectile. This channel connects the inner basins with the magnificent fish pond located outside, in front of the elevation, in a symmetrical position to it.

The ground floor, whose main room is the Fountain Room, contains other smaller lateral service rooms. The first floor extends over the two side wings as the central part is occupied by the bulk of the fountain. The second level features a distribution of rooms throughout the floor and follows the layout of the ground floor, replacing the central room with an atrium, originally open to the sky and then covered by vaults in the 18th century.
Every part and every architectural element had a precise function. The side turrets contained ventilation ducts to ensure a suitable air conditioning system. The air was thus channelled to cool the rooms by taking advantage of the circulation of the currents and the exposure of the building in both its lit and shaded areas.

An architectural crescendo

The architectural space

the Baroque exterior

The senses tell the mosaic cycle


Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

The return of water

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

The interior of the church

The senses tell the interior

The birth of the Norman kingdom

The Norman conquest of Sicily and the birth of a new Latin kingdom

Different styles and transformations of “one of the most beautiful monuments in the world”

The senses tell the ceiling

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

From earthquake to collapse

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell the architecture

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light


the Baroque interior

The Palace of Kings

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

A building constructed in a short space of time

The beautiful Zisa and its garden: solacium regi among sounds, colours and scents

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

The mosaics of the naves

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

the roof of Paradise: one of the most representative works of medieval art

The Royal Throne

The ancient convent of the Martorana, a history of devotion and tradition

The Cassaro

The decorations on the bell tower

Gold and light: the splendour of the mosaics in the Royal Chapel

The loca solatiorum: dwellings for recreation, well-being and hunting

The architectural envelope: the Greek cross layout oriented towards the light

The senses tell the historical context

The mosaics of the transept and the apses

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

The senses tell baroque decoration

The senses tell the flooring

The Admiral’s dedication

The senses tell the historical context

The rediscovered palace

The senses tell restorations