The best place to see in town is here

The best place to see in town is here

[Jan. 2024] We visited Palazzo Reale, the Norman royal palace, the most popular attraction in Palermo, Sicily, Italy.

The ticket costs €19 per person, which is a bit daunting, but it’s worth the money.

the mosaics of Palatine Chapel in Palazzo Reale in Palermo, Sicily in Italy
dazzling mosaics in the Palatine Chapel

The reason is that it houses the Palatine Chapel, which Maupassant apparently described as “the most beautiful religious jewel that mankind has ever dreamed of.”

As soon as you enter, you are literally dazzled by its splendour.

The most amazing thing is the glittering mosaics that fill the entire room.

According to the guidebook, this chapel was started to be built in 1130 to commemorate the coronation of Roger II as the first King of Sicily, and it took 13 years to complete.

It is said to incorporate European, Sicilian, Byzantine, and Arab art and architectural styles.

The mosaics were made by Byzantine Greek craftsmen invited by the king.

the ceiling of Palatine Chapel in Palazzo Reale in Palermo, Sicily in Italy
the style of the ceiling is called Muqarnas

The guidebook says that “it’s worth visiting Palermo just to see this,” and it may be true.

The mosaics are sure to catch your eye, but the ceiling and floor are also wonderful, so be sure to take a good look.

The wooden ceiling is an Islamic style called Muqarnas, and it is said to be very rare to see this in a Christian church.

It is even said that because of this, Roger II may have actually been a Muslim.

the floor of the Palatine Chapel in Palazzo Reale in Palermo, Sicily in Italy
the pattern on the floor

Indeed, I remember seeing this style, with its repeated fine honeycomb patterns, in palaces in the Islamic world, such as Isfahan in Iran.

Or maybe the Alhambra in Spain.

The floor was similar to the one we saw in the Church of San Cataldo a few days before.

The guidebook says that you can actually hold a wedding here!

I thought about getting married again.

inside Roger II's bedroom in Palazzo Reale in Palermo, Sicily in Italy
the mosaics of the hunting scenes in Roger II’s bedroom

The Norman palace where this chapel is located was originally a Phoenician and Roman fort, and was restored and extensively remodelled by the Normans.

However, after Frederick II’s death in 1250, the palace fell into a state of decline, and then the Spanish governor remodelled it and lived in it, and most of the current appearance is from after the renovation.

In addition to the Palatine Chapel, Roger II’s bedroom still retains its Norman-era appearance.

Roger II’s bedroom is not as beautiful as the chapel, but it is still covered with beautiful mosaics all over.

the ceiling of Sala dei Venti in Palazzo Reale in Palermo, Sicily in Italy
lovely ceiling in Sala dei Venti

This is a mosaic depicting hunting.

It has a rather exotic pattern, with lions and other things.

Another beautiful place was the Sala dei Venti.

The wooden ceiling, which is said to be from the 18th century, was impressive.