the Zisa

The return of water

During the most recent restoration work, further renovations were carried out on the building, with the creation of a ventilated perimeter cavity to prevent rising dampness from the contact soil, which had massively damaged the floor of the Fountain Room . Particular attention was paid to the possibility of restoring the flow of water coming out of the fountain. The fountain was originally fed by the aqueduct behind it, flowing from the springs of the Gabriel .

Fountain room
The Fountain Room is the luxurious reception room of the Norman rulers, configured in the form of a Persian-style iwan. It projects outwards, in ideal connection with the surrounding park and in axis with the main entrance in a predominant position compared to the other rooms. It takes the form of a large hall opening onto the vestibule through an ogival arch supported by paired marble columns. The hall’s interior is cruciform in shape with large decorated and vaulted niches and muqarnas. The entire room is decorated with mosaics and marble inlays in opus sectile and columns with capitals of Islamic origin. The mosaic ornaments on the western side of the fountain room are an original example of secular mosaics, which do not deal with themes related to ecclesiastical life. Of Byzantine type and with Islamic iconography, the mosaic panels, with a gold background, show two facing archers, in the centre of a tondo, while shooting at birds perched in trees; in the two side tondos, there are pairs of facing peacocks pecking at dates hanging from palm trees. Each tondo is decorated and surrounded by intertwining plant motifs. In the part below the mosaics, water flowed through a marble slab into a gutter at floor level, interspersed with basins and decorations in opus sectile. It then gushed into the grandiose fishpond outside.
This hydraulic system was disused over time and later abandoned. No trace of it can be found as the area behind it was heavily urbanised and altered. Bringing water back into the Zisa fountain was an important and emblematic step in giving the Zisa its original significance and charm back.
A closed-circuit hydraulic system was thus installed to recycle the water, which escaped from the fountain’s tap and flowed into the inclined marble surface, known as the “ shādirwān ”.
This is a typical element of Islamic and generally oriental fountains. From here, the water could flow through the hall’s central channel, where small octagonal basins are inserted, and finally flow outside into the fish pond. In order to make the most of the Fountain room, it was equipped with a lighting system designed to highlight the environment’s various plastic or figurative parts with a special effect, obtained on the “shādirwān”, where the flowing water could reflect the sparkles in harmony with its sound. A little corner of paradise, a reminder of the ancient splendour of times gone by.

The Cassaro

The Palace of Kings

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

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

The Royal Throne

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

A building constructed in a short space of time

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

The senses tell the historical context

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

The senses tell the architecture

the Baroque interior

The return of water

The Admiral’s dedication

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

The architectural space

The birth of the Norman kingdom

The interior of the church

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

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


An architectural crescendo

The rediscovered palace

The senses tell the historical context

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

The decorations on the bell tower

The senses tell the interior

The senses tell restorations

From earthquake to collapse

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

The senses tell the flooring

The senses tell the historical context

The mosaics of the naves

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

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

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

The senses tell baroque decoration


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

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

The senses tell the ceiling

The mosaics of the transept and the apses

the Baroque exterior

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