the historical context
the Zisa

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

The Zisa palace, from the Arabic al-Azīz, which means the glorious or the splendid, is the most representative of the entire Genoard park. It was built, probably on Islamic pre-existing structures, at the behest of William I , known as the Bad, in 1165, a few years after his death. According to tradition, it was later completed by his son and successor William II , known as the Good.
“Beautiful gardens, pleasant greenery, various water channels and fishponds” is the oldest description of the garden of the Zisa, contained in the chronicle of Romualdo Salernitano , who described how the palace was surrounded by a park of gardens and orchards which was also characterised by the presence of avenues, pavilions, water channels and basins.
Cedars, lemons and other fruit trees still inebriated visitors in the modern age, so much so that, in 1550, Leandro Alberti wrote that he had seen a “a spacious garden of lemons, cedars, oranges, and other similar fruitful trees”. Considered a true Paradise on Earth, the Zisa garden, separated from the rest of the  Genoard by a marshy area, was a locus amoenus rich in flowers, vegetable gardens, fruit trees such as oranges, lumias, lemons, apricots, figs and vines, and also populated by exotic animals. The cultivation and production of reeds, which were used in gardens as a support for vegetables and vines, was also common.Of the various water and irrigation systems, the remains of the fishpond on the elevation and the inner fountain room are still visible, with a network of clay pressure pipes, known as catusi , and other Persian-derived waterways. In the 1990s, a new urban park was created in front of the palace, in memory of the old garden, which now houses Mediterranean botanical species and modern ponds that recall the magnificence of the old ones.The Chapel of the Holy Trinity is located in what must have been part of the garden, to the north of the palace, now integrated with a 17th century church. The Chapel, with a single aisle and a cross-vaulted roof, has a rectangular presbytery with an apse, covered with a typical hemispherical dome on a drum with recessed corner niches. It is assumed that the Zisa and the Chapel, where the sovereigns attended religious services, were connected by a raised corridor.

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

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

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

The decorations on the bell tower

The Royal Throne

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

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

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

A building constructed in a short space of time

The architectural space

the Baroque interior

The mosaics of the naves


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

The senses tell the ceiling

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

An architectural crescendo

The senses tell the historical context

From earthquake to collapse

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

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

The senses tell the historical context

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

The mosaics of the transept and the apses

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

The Cassaro

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

The interior of the church

The rediscovered palace

The senses tell the architecture

The Admiral’s dedication

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

The senses tell the flooring

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

The return of water

The birth of the Norman kingdom

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

The senses tell baroque decoration


The senses tell the interior

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

The senses tell restorations

the Baroque exterior

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

The senses tell the historical context

The Palace of Kings