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Cathedral of Santa Maia Assunta

Palermo's main attraction is it's beautiful cathedral, officially the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Originally it was built in the Norman-Arab fashion, but the many additions and alternations have made it a mix of architectural styles and simply enormous. The styles include Norman, Baroque, Arab and Gothic with some additions as recent as the cupola from the 1700s. The cathedral is flanked by four towers of the Norman period and connected to the south to Palazzo Arcivescovile with two large arches and the clock bell tower.
The interior has also been altered with a variety of architectural styles. The building is a Latin cross with three aisles divided by pillars with statues of saints that were part of the decoration of the tribune of Gagini. The crypt and treasury offer a variety of precious objects for visitors to observe, including the golden tiara which once belonged to Queen Constanza.
Roger II, Henry VI of Hohenstaufen, Constanza de Hauteville and Frederick II of Hohenstaufen are all buried in this crypt. Ophamil, the creator of the church is also buried in a sarcophagus in the church's crypt. Another attraction is the heliometer, a solar observatory from the 17th century. This allows the image of the sun to be projected on the floor at solar noon.

Martorana Church

Is famed for its spectacular mosaics. This is one of the most celebrated churches in Palermo. Dating from the Norman-Byzantine era, mosaics cover every surface including on and around the columns that hold up the principal cupola. The mosaics are notable not only for the elaborate designs, but for the vibrant colors of green, ivory, azure blue, and red on a golden background.
One of the most interesting mosaics is that of King Roger II being crowned by Christ. Roger is dressed in a jeweled Byzantine garment, reflecting the Norman court's fascination with everything Byzantine. Another panel shows a kneeling George of Antioch, founder of the church, dedicating La Martorana to the Virgin.
The exterior includes a graceful bell tower from the 12th century. The baroque facade is a cover on the original Norman front.
Visitors can obtain a key from the custodian sitting at a table to the right when entering the chapel. From here entrance can be made to the smaller Chiesa di San Cataldo, also of Norman origin. It was founded by Maio of Bari, chancellor to William I. This church was never finished, but is still famous for its Saracenic red golf-ball domes.

Regiona Archaeological Museum

This is a wonderful archaeological museum of Italy, full of prehistoric treasures. Most of the collection dates from the Roman era, but includes major Sicilian finds from the Phoenician, Punic, Greek, Roman, and Saracen periods, with several noteworthy treasures from Egypt. The building also has beautiful features, such as the hexagonal 16th century fountain bearing a statue of Triton in the courtyard.
One of the most interesting parts of the exhibit is the famous metope, a collection of Greek vases and several mosaics from patrician Roman villas. Located in room 13, these finds were unearthed at the temples of Selinunte, once one of the major cities of Magna Graecia, Freek colonies in Southern Italy. The three metopes from Temple C, a quartet of splendid metopes from Temple E, and a 5th-century bronze statue, Ephebe of Selinunte are all on display.
There are many other exhibits worth examining. A pair of sarcophagi that date from the 5th century B.C. are on display. Etruscan antiquities grace rooms 14 to 17. The Oinochoe Vase, from the 6th century B.C., is one of the most detailed artifacts of Etruscan blackened earthenware. The museum houses the most complete collection of ancient anchors, mostly Punic and Roman. There are several large Roman bronzes, including an impressive Ram, a Hellenistic work from Syracuse. Another notable work here is Hercules Killing the Stag, discovered at Pompeii, a Roman copy of a Greek original from the 3rd century B.C.



Temple of Concord

Is an intriguing archaeological site just outside of the modern city of Agrigento. The structure is large, with an area of 843,38 square meters and a height of 13,481 meters with two intact classic Greek spiral staircases that lead to the ceiling. The temple is listed as a UNESCO National Heritage site, along with the string of five Doric style Greek temples that surround it. This is the best preserved of the five and is one of the primary reasons to visit the city.
The location was ideal for construction and the natural landscape was used to design the building. Ground level formed the basement of the temple, with steps that lead to the heightened upper levels. This is where worship and religious practices took place.
The temple's name comes from an ancient Latin inscription found near the temple. The temple was probably consecrated to the Greek Deities of the sea, Dioscuri, Castore and Polluce. The interior was decorated with different shades of stucco. Medieval tombs are another attraction to the area. Because the temple was once a basilica, tombs are located around the church.




Monreale's greatest feature is it's world-renowned cathedral. With a mix of Arab, Byzantine and Norman artistic styles all on a Romanesque structure, this is a combination of the best of 12th century East and West design. The church is a national monument of Italy and one of the most important attractions of Sicily.
The exterior of the cathedral is fairly plain, with the majority of the decoration on the aisle walls and three eastern apses which have intersecting pointed arches. The interior plan has large triple-apsed choir like one of the early three-apsed churches. Columns of grey oriental granite (except for one notable exception of cipolin marble) support eight pointed arches. There is no triforium, but a high clerestory with wide windows.
The mosaics are one of the cathedral's greatest features. this is one of the world's largest displays of this art, surpassed only by Istanbul's famous Basilica of Saint Sofia. Even after many of the mosaics were destroyed when the Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, there is still 6,340 square meters of the duomo's interior surface covered in mosaic.



Greek Amphitheatre

This ancient theater was the site of various events, including ancient Greek theater. Plays, assemblies, and circus games were all held there. With a diameter of 138.60 meters, this is one of the largest in the world. It was originally constructed by 67 orders of steps, mostly excavated in solid rock and divided into 9 wedge shaped areas. On each of these incised wedges there are names of gods like Zeus, Hercules, and Hera.
Most of the stage is gone and the seats have been greatly eroded. An area for the orchestra is dug out and columns and pillars are merely memories. Above the theater, there is a terrace carved into the rock. At the center of the back wall, many little niches are carved into the wall to house statues. It was important to honor the gods with the plays and there likeness was depicted throughout the ancient theater.
Cast members were always male in the plays of ancient Greek tragedies. Masks, chorus, and satiric character types performed the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Performances were generally held during public holidays as a source of entertainment, culture, and community interaction.



Greek Amphitheatre

This 10,000 seat stadium dates from the ancient Greeks, as indicated in its name. It is the main monument in Taormina and one of the most famous tourist attractions of Sicily. Not only is the theater amazing, there is a phenomenal view of the surrounding landscape. A sometimes snow capped Mount Etna looms on the horizon and the Ionian Sea glimmers brightly. Visitors come to the Teatro Greco for history, leisure, and beauty.
Shows are still performed here by the Taormina Arte, an international festival of cinema, theater, dance and symphony music which takes place every summer. The site still features perfect acoustics. Visitors can explore the stage and backstage areas, or settle into one of the curving rows of seats.
The original theater was erected in the 3rd century BC by the Greeks. Seats were carved out of the hillside and the background of the theater took advantage of the magnificent view over the city and toward Mount Etna. The site was an important center in which Greek artists could hone their craft both as playwrights and actors.
A perfect site for the Greek art of theater, the amphitheater was completely reconstructed when the Romans took over. More interested in a stage for Gladiator events, the Romans deconstructed the orchestra and demolished the first rank of stalls. They also inserted a corridor for the combatants' entry. The entire structure was expanded and the Gladiator events began.
The Greek Theater is now an important tourist site. When not plagued by tourist buses or performance, the theater is quite and serene as it overlooks the rest of the city. It is a stunning piece of history for the city and for Italy.



Saint Anthony basilica

was built around the 10th century in honor of Saint Anthony, patron saint of navigators, and in c.1300 it became the home of the "Confraternita dei Battenti", an heretical confraternity originating from Naples. It was splendidly restored in the C17th by the Theatine Fathers. The crypt holds the tomb of Saint Anthony, where thousands of votive offerings have been made by sailors.

Saint Francis Cloisters

have been restored on numerous occasions over the centuries and hence display a distinctive array of architectural styles that range from late gothic to renaissance, while the refectory retains its original fourteenth century structure.

Museo Correale

Within the 18th–century Palazzo Correale, which has some interesting murals, is the Museo Correale, containing a small collection of 17th– and 18th-century Neapolitan art and an assortment of Greek and Roman artefacts. Steps lead down to the shore while the gardens offer views of the bay.


The gleaming white facade of the cathedral gives no hint of the exuberance housed within. There's a particularly striking Crucifixion above the main altar. The triple-tiered bell tower rests on an archway into which three classical columns and a number of other fragments have been set.

Sedil Dominova

A unique testimony to the ancient "sedile", which was the building in which the city fathers gathered to make laws and decide on economic and administrative matters. A magnificent majolica-tiled dome covers the arcaded loggia of the Sedil Dominova.




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