Architecture and decorations
the Zisa


The theme of the Garden of Paradise lives on in the decorations of the mosaic ornaments ,

2.Mosaic ornamentation in the Fountain Room
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 but to secular life. The mosaic panels are Byzantine in style and Islamic in iconography. They have a gold background and depict three tondos, linked together by banded motifs with images of extreme naturalism. In the central tondo, there are two facing archers shooting at birds perched in trees; in the two side tondos, there are pairs of facing peacocks pecking at dates hanging from palm trees. Each tondo is decorated and surrounded by intertwining plant motifs.

as well as in the plastic representations of the capitals , which adorn the fountain room:an Islamic iwan, it is the Norman sovereigns’ reception room and the hub of the entire palace; open and projecting outwards, in an ideal connection with the surrounding park, it is located on axis with the main doorway in a predominant position compared to the other rooms.
The themes replicate that external reality present in the 12th century, through the depiction of pecking birds and modelled palms in sculptures and archers with birds in mosaic vestments.

Muqarnas in the Fountain Room
The ceiling of the Fountain Room, the main room of the Zisa Palace, has an ornamental decoration, typical of Islamic architecture, in the form of muqarnas. Also known as the alveoli or stalactite decoration, it was used in vaults, domes, niches and doorways. Made of stucco stone, ceramic or brick, it became more widespread from the 12th century onwards. In Sicily, muqarnas are found in many Norman buildings such as the Palatine Chapel and the Zisa.

The dominant and characteristic motif present in all the rooms is the muqarnas , a peculiar expression of Islamic art and a construction system that allows, with a refined stylistic elegance, the connection between the square surface of the rooms and the curved shape of the vaults.
The construction system of the muqarnas consists of carved tuff ashlars interlocked according to geometric rules to form the classic alveolus shape. The structure was then covered with stucco, which is still preserved in some parts with remnants of plastering.

A building constructed in a short space of time

From earthquake to collapse

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

The Royal Throne


The mosaics of the transept and the apses

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

The senses tell restorations

The senses tell baroque decoration

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

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

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

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

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

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

The birth of the Norman kingdom

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace


The senses tell the architecture

The Admiral’s dedication

The interior of the church

The Palace of Kings

The senses tell the flooring

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

the Baroque interior

The architectural space

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

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

The rediscovered palace

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

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

The return of water

An architectural crescendo

The senses tell the historical context

the Baroque exterior

The senses tell the ceiling

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

The senses tell the historical context

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

The decorations on the bell tower

The Cassaro

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

The mosaics of the naves

The senses tell the interior

The senses tell the mosaic cycle