the church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio
the historical context

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

The Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, from 1221, was entrusted to the Greek clergy, while from 1434, at the behest of Alfonso V of Aragon, it was granted to the Benedictine nuns of the nearby monastery, founded in 1193 by Goffredo and Eloisa Martorana.
The church, thus connected to the convent, began being called “La Martorana”.
The Martorana nuns are linked to a singular tradition, that of the fruit known as ‘di martorana’. Today, it is one of the sweets that symbolises Sicilian confectionery throughout the world. It is said that Benedictine nuns used to bake small cakes, made of royal or almond paste, using honey and almond flour, which were shaped like fruit and were characterised by their bright colours and sweet smell. According to oral tradition, the sweets, in addition to being sold to the community, were used to decorate the trees in the garden when they were bare due to the lack of real fruit. At present, the church is the seat of the parish of San Nicolò dei Greci, a reference point created by some Albanian communities that arrived in Sicily between the 15th and 18th centuries. The liturgy is still celebrated in the church according to the Byzantine rite, since today it falls under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi.

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

The rediscovered palace

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

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

The senses tell the architecture

The interior of the church

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

The senses tell the ceiling

The Palace of Kings

The senses tell the flooring

The senses tell the interior

The senses tell baroque decoration

The Royal Throne

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

The senses tell restorations

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

The Admiral’s dedication

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

The architectural space

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

the Baroque interior

From earthquake to collapse


The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

The senses tell the historical context


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

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

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

The mosaics of the naves

The mosaics of the transept and the apses

An architectural crescendo

The Cassaro

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

The return of water

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

The senses tell the historical context

The birth of the Norman kingdom

The decorations on the bell tower

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

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

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

the Baroque exterior

A building constructed in a short space of time