Monday, May 12, 2014

Palermo, Italy

Palermo is the capital of Sicily and is the industrial and commercial center of the island.  The metro area is home to 1.2 million people (about the size of Prague), which makes it the 5th largest city in Italy.

Palermo is about a two hour bus ride from Trapani.

There's a lot of history here.  The city was founded by the Phoenicians in 734 BC.  Over time it was ruled by Carthage, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Arabs, and the Normans.

The Massimo Theater is the opera house dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II and celebrates the unification of Italy.  It opened in 1897 and has a capacity of 1,387.  It's the largest opera house in Italy and the third largest in Europe.

The Palermo Cathedral belongs to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Palermo.  Construction began in 1185 and it was finally completed in the 18th century.

San Domenico is a beautiful Baroque church that was built in 1640.

Mazzara was a port city gate.  It opened in the 13th century.  In the 17th century it was incorporated into a bastion and became useless for transit.  The bastion was demolished in 1885.

Piazza Pretoria is between two churches and the center is taken up by a fountain and numerous white statues.  It dates back to the 16th century and was restored in 2003.

The Politeama Theater was completed in 1891.  The neoclassic theater can accommodate 5,000 people.

Zisa Castle, known locally as the Castello della Zisa, was built in the 12th century.  It was the home of counts until the 1950s but it fell into disrepair.  It was restored in the 1980s.

The city takes its football (soccer) quite serious.  U.S. Città di Palermo is Sicily's top-ranked club.  The "rasanero" (pink-blacks) contributed four players to the Italian team that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

The Mafia is still a serious problem in Sicily.  This monument is in memory of victims killed in the fight against the Mafia.

Quattro Canit (Four Corners) is officially the Baroque square, Piazza Vigliena.  The near-identical facades of the four buildings have fountains and each one contains statues of a season.

Palermo has some beautiful architecture.  The city is actually much bigger than I had imagined it would be.  I'm still glad that we stayed in Trapani, which was very relaxing.  Since Palermo was only a day trip there wasn't enough time to visit Monreale.  Next time I suppose.  However, there was for sure enough time to grab an awesome cannoli.

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