the church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio
the historical context

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

The Norman kingdom was born in the city of Palermo on 25 December 1130, when Roger II was crowned King of Sicily, Apulia, Calabria and Capua. The occupation and seizure of Sicily, which remained under Muslim rule for some two hundred years, was due to his predecessor Roger I , known as the Great Count, who, together with his brother Robert Guiscard , planned a complex plan of conquest, which began with the 1061 landing in Messina.
After the surrender of the port city in the Straits, the Normans penetrated the Val Demone with almost no difficulty and, following the fall of the town of Rometta, many strongholds were torn from the ‘Arabs’. In 1071 Palermo capitulated, followed by Trapani in 1077, Agrigento in 1087, Enna and finally Noto in 1091.
Nevertheless, from 827 to 1072, during Muslim rule, the island enjoyed a period of both economic and cultural prosperity. New cultivation techniques were introduced, water resources rationalised, mosques, places of recreation and hunting were built, the monetary system was renewed with the introduction of the gold dinar and the silver dirhem, and literature, art, philosophy and poetry were promoted. The ‘Arabs’, who tried to maintain a degree of religious tolerance, divided Sicily into three large administrative seats: Val di Mazara, Val di Noto and Val Demone .
This tolerance and openness towards different styles, religions and cultures was maintained during the Norman reign, which became a blend of different worlds, languages and religions, not only those of Western Latin but also Eastern Byzantine and Islamic.
The Norman rulers succeeded in creating a dialogue between the people of the Mediterranean, based on peaceful coexistence, cooperation and the coexistence of different cultures. The mixture of styles, typical of the Norman period, can be seen in many buildings, from the Zisa to the Palatine Chapel and the three great cathedrals of Palermo, Monreale and Cefalù.

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

The Admiral’s dedication

The senses tell the ceiling

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

The senses tell the architecture

From earthquake to collapse

The senses tell the interior



The Palace of Kings

The mosaics of the transept and the apses

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

The rediscovered palace

An architectural crescendo

The senses tell restorations

the Baroque exterior

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

The mosaics of the naves

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

A building constructed in a short space of time

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

The senses tell the historical context

The Cassaro

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell baroque decoration

The interior of the church

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 architectural appearance and transformations over time

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

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

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

The decorations on the bell tower

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

The senses tell the flooring

the Baroque interior

The senses tell the historical context

The birth of the Norman kingdom

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

The architectural space

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

The return of water

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

The Royal Throne

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

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light