the historical context
The Palatine Chapel

The Palace of Kings

Roger II dedicated himself to enlarging the emir’s former palace to make it his own palace. For this reason, in the external architectural layout of the Palace, one can see the various layers of both Islamic and Romanesque styles. The new king worked mainly on the middle floor of the building, where he had his personal chapel built after his coronation in 1130, dedicated to St. Peter . He also had the Greek Tower built, which was later remodelled during the Renaissance, and the Pisan Tower, where treasures were kept. The Joharia tower was decorated during the reign of the two Williams, with mosaics by Byzantine craftsmen depicting hunting scenes with lions, deer, centaurs, peacocks, various animals facing each other and stylised plant motifs.The exquisitely worldly mosaic cycle seems to echo the magnificent garden of the Genoard .
The Genoard was one of the most important and extensive parks in the period of William II. It extended from the city of Palermo, eastwards in the valley of the Oreto river , and southwards, where it bordered on the Altofonte .The name derives from the Arabic Jannat al-ard, meaning Garden or Paradise of the Earth, and occupied the whole western part of the fertile plain of Palermo, which in modern times would be called the Conca d'Oro . Inside the Genoard, there were orchards, citrus groves, fountains, springs, water reservoirs and also residences, palaces and pavilions such as the Cuba , the Zisa , the Cuba Soprana , the Cubula , or small cuba, the Menani and the Scibene . Other towers, no longer in existence, completed the palace’s guard circuit: the Red Tower, whose construction is attributed, again, to the first king of Sicily, and the Chirimbi Tower, dating back to the era of William I .
Inside the palace, the mint, the textile and goldsmith workshops and factories were maintained. These included the tiraz , a veritable workshop, open to different cultural and artistic styles, where textiles, carpets and works of fine jewellery were made, such as the crown of Constance ,
found in the tomb of the wife of Frederick II , Constance of Aragon , and now kept in the Cathedral Treasury. The history of the palace is linked to temporal power. In fact, in 1556 it was the residence of the Spanish Viceroys and, even today, as if by symbolic continuity, it is the seat of the ARS, the Sicilian Regional Assembly.

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

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

The senses tell baroque decoration

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries


The Admiral’s dedication


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

An architectural crescendo

The Royal Throne

The senses tell the historical context

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

The birth of the Norman kingdom

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

The senses tell the architecture

The Cassaro

The decorations on the bell tower

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

The return of water

The senses tell the historical context

The mosaics of the naves

The mosaics of the transept and the apses

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

The rediscovered palace

the Baroque exterior

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

The senses tell the interior

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

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

The Palace of Kings

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell restorations

The senses tell the ceiling

The senses tell the flooring

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

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

the Baroque interior

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

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

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

The interior of the church

From earthquake to collapse

The architectural space

A building constructed in a short space of time

The architectural appearance and transformations over time