the church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio
the external architecture and the original layout

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio: one of the most beautiful constructions you will ever see

The traveller Ibn Gubayr admired the Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio and described it as “one of the most beautiful constructions you will ever see”. Over the centuries, the church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio has changed its appearance: numerous reconstructions have transformed the ancient Byzantine-style medieval building. Today, in fact, you can admire completely different styles and decorations: from the splendour of Byzantine mosaics, to 18th century frescoes, to Arab stylistic features. Despite the ostentatious Baroque façade on the north side of the church, the Syrian-style Byzantine Orthodox dome stands in the centre of the church, on a high octagonal drum, with cylindrical corner niches embellished with concentric rings.

The geometry of the bell tower

The Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio bell tower chimes to announce the upcoming celebration. The melodious sound awakens the souls of those strolling briskly in Piazza Bellini and draws the people towards the Martorana. The bell tower is one of the best preserved elements of the church, and is attributable to craftsmen from the East. It is characterised by a square layout and can be subdivided into four levels with complex and meticulous bi-chrome marquetry decoration in a variety of forms: four-leaf clovers, interlacing, circles, rhombuses; mouldings with geometric decorations in two horizontal friezes and on the ashlars of the arches of the turrets and in the mullioned windows on the fourth floor; six-pointed star motifs in the mullioned window frames on the third floor and eight-pointed motifs in the corners of the second level.

Touching the bell tower

Touching the bell tower means touching smooth and rough surfaces. The decorations, in fact, determine an alternation that makes the construction impressive and dynamic. The shapes engraved on the bell tower are varied: clovers, interlaces, circles, rhombuses and even star motifs, the latter being typical of the Islamic style. The durability of the stone can also be seen in other decorative elements: in the bell tower there are capitals, made by different craftsmen but all ascribable to the Middle Ages: The small columns, especially in the upper parts, give a contrasting effect to the volume.

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries


Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

The architectural space

The senses tell the historical context

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

From earthquake to collapse

The Admiral’s dedication

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

The rediscovered palace

The senses tell the historical context

The decorations on the bell tower

An architectural crescendo

The Palace of Kings

The senses tell baroque decoration

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

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

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

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

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

The return of water

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

The birth of the Norman kingdom

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

The interior of the church

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

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

The senses tell restorations

the Baroque exterior

The mosaics of the naves

The senses tell the ceiling

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

The mosaics of the transept and the apses

The senses tell the architecture


A building constructed in a short space of time

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

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

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

the Baroque interior

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

The senses tell the interior

The Cassaro

The senses tell the flooring

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

The Royal Throne