the church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio
the historical context

The senses tell the historical context

A brightly-lit square

In Norman times, especially during the reign of Roger II, Palermo was becoming more and more enriched with magnificent buildings every day. The Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, built ex novo at the behest of Admiral George of Antioch, stands in the luminous Piazza Bellini in the historic centre of Palermo, occupying a privileged position on a hill next to the Church of San Cataldo and opposite the Church of Santa Caterina.

The sweetness of the Martorana

From 1434, the church was entrusted to the Benedictine nuns of the nearby monastery, founded in 1193 by Goffredo and Eloisa Martorana. The church, thus connected to the convent, began being called “La Martorana”. The Martorana nuns are linked to a singular and very tasty tradition, that of the fruit known as ‘di martorana’. Today, it is one of the sweets that symbolises Sicilian confectionery throughout the world. It is said that Benedictine nuns used to bake small cakes, made of royal or almond paste, using honey and almond flour, which were shaped like fruit and were characterised by their bright colours and sweet smell.

The joy of playing together

In the brightly lit square, you can hear the carefree sounds of children playing catch and the chatter of adults strolling peacefully by. Do you hear that? The ladies almost parade through the square, showing off their luxurious gowns made of fine cloth. For a moment, no one thinks about the labours of work. Today’s Piazza Bellini, a jewel in the historic center of Palermo, was already an important city center in medieval times.

The Admiral’s dedication

The birth of the Norman kingdom

The senses tell the architecture

The decorations on the bell tower

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

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

The Cassaro

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

The architectural space

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


The senses tell restorations

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

The interior of the church

The senses tell the historical context

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

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

The senses tell the ceiling

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

A building constructed in a short space of time

From earthquake to collapse

The rediscovered palace

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

An architectural crescendo

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

The mosaics of the transept and the apses


Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

The Palace of Kings

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

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

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

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

The return of water

The senses tell baroque decoration

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

The senses tell the interior

The senses tell the historical context

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

the Baroque exterior

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

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

The senses tell the historical context

the Baroque interior

The mosaics of the naves

The senses tell the flooring

The Royal Throne

From oblivion to the recovery of memory