the historical context
the Zisa

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

Domus, castrum or palatium, buildings dedicated to leisure and hunting, located in parks, gardens and scenic spots, were called loca solatiorum. These buildings were located far from the urban centre, in areas of lush greenery, enriched by the presence of springs, fishponds, artificial lakes, gardens and water features. The Arab community, in fact, experts in various disciplines including hydraulic sciences, introduced a new system of underground water channelling to Sicily, the so-called quanāt , as well as irrigation systems, collection tanks, saie and surface pipelines.
Hunting was often practised within the parks, especially with the falcon which, in the Middle Ages, became the courtly ideal par excellence, an intellectual endeavour and a symbol of social status, as the falcon began to represent the warrior victorious in combat.
The Norman dynasty is inherited by Frederick II of Swabia , son of Constance of Hauteville and Henry IV. The stupor mundi, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Sicily, as well as inheriting numerous residences from his predecessors such as the Zisa, Favara and Cuba, wrote a treatise on the art of falconry, De arte Venandi Cum Avibus, transcribed by his son Manfredi and preserved in the Vatican Library.

The Royal Throne

The birth of the Norman kingdom

The senses tell restorations

The mosaics of the naves

The rediscovered palace

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

The senses tell the flooring

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

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

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

The senses tell the historical context


The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

the Baroque exterior

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

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

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

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

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

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

The senses tell the ceiling

the Baroque interior

The senses tell baroque decoration

The senses tell the historical context

The decorations on the bell tower

The interior of the church

An architectural crescendo

The senses tell the architecture

The senses tell the historical context

The Admiral’s dedication

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

The senses tell the interior

The Cassaro

The architectural space

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

The mosaics of the transept and the apses

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

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

A building constructed in a short space of time

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

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

The return of water


The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

From earthquake to collapse

The Palace of Kings