Originally founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, Palermo City Centre lies at the heart of the Sicilian capital. It was part of the Roman Empire for more than 1,000 years and later under Arab rule before becoming the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily in 1130. Palermo’s tumultuous history is reflected in its diversity of architectural styles, with everything from Byzantine mosaics to Arabesque domes and Baroque palazzi.
Things to do in Palermo City Centre
Spend an afternoon wandering through Palermo’s Old Town, which is clustered with trattorias, bars and boutiques. Admire the 12th-century Palermo Cathedral and visit the Neoclassical-style Teatro Massimo where operatic performances regularly take place. Don’t miss the Quattro Canti, an octagonal plaza featuring four fountains and watched over by the Palazzo Chiaramonte Bordonaro.
Occupying the 18th-century Palazzo Riso is the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea della Sicilia, which exhibits contemporary artwork by Paola Pivi, Christina Boltanski and Croce Taravella. The building was designed by the Italian architect Giuseppe Venanzio Marvuglia and exhibits a combination of Sicilian Baroque and Neoclassical styles. Nearby is the Chiesa del Santissimo Salvatore with its lavishly decorated interior.
To escape the hustle and bustle of Palermo City Centre, head to the Giardino Garibaldi, which is framed by the palazzi of Piazza Marina. In addition to its ornamental fountains and impressive fig trees (including Palermo’s oldest), it features several busts of influential figures in Palermo’s past. Coincide your visit with the Sunday flea market to pick up vintage treasures.
Getting around Palermo City Centre
Falcone Borsellino Airport is a 30-minute drive from Palermo City Centre and has seasonal flights to destinations across Europe and North Africa. Ferries travel from Palermo to Naples, Tunis and Cagliari. Regular trains connect to the Fiera railway station while buses travel throughout the city centre.