Palermo Landmarks and Monuments

(Palermo, Sicily, Italy)

Photo showing the Fontana PretoriaThere are an extraordinary number of monuments and historic landmarks, both in the centre of Palermo and in the surrounding districts. These include everything from churches, theatres and palaces to beautiful city squares, fountains and ancient gateways.

Of all Palermo's famous landmarks, the Capuchin Catacombs are perhaps one of the most unusual. Like many of the city's tourist hotspots, visitors may encounter queues during busy periods. On the other hand, many of the main monuments around central Palermo can simply be viewed from the outside and can be easily incorporated into a walking tour through the city.

Fontana Pretoria

Address: Piazza Pretoria, Palermo, Italy, IT
This impressive fountain can be found at the heart of the popular Piazza Pretoria in Palermo. Created in the mid-16th century by Camilliani, a sculptor from Florence, the unveiling of the Fontana Pretoria is said to have caused quite a stir among the townsfolk. The cause of such distress was the number of nude figures that make up the fountain. Indeed, Fontana Pretoria soon became known as the 'fountain of shame', although this landmark is now much-loved by local Sicilians. Other features include animal heads, monsters, ornamental staircases, and gods and goddesses. A good time to admire the fountain is during the evening when it is floodlit.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free

Picture of the Capuchin Catacombs

Capuchin Catacombs

Address: Via Cappucini, Palermo, Italy, IT
Tel: +39 091 212 117
Palermo's catacombs are an unusual and rather eerie visitor landmark of the city, it has to be said. Capuchin monks started mummifying the city's deceased wealthy inhabitants back in the 16th century. A cave underneath the monastery served as a crypt. Today, over 8,000 mummified bodies can still be seen within the Capuchin Catacombs, all dressed as they would have been in their lifetime.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 12:00 and 15:00 to 17:30
Admission: charge

Chiesa di Santa Caterina

Address: Piazza Pretoria, Palermo, Italy, IT
Built in the 15th century and modified a century or so later, this church has become an important landmark in this part of the city and boasts a traditional Sicilian baroque interior. As well as a hall, there is also a presbytery and great dome. The church's decoration of ceiling frescoes is particularly ornate.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

Image of the Porta Nuova

Porta Nuova

This huge gateway to the city was built back in the 16th century in celebration of the entry of Charles V into Palermo after his victory in Tunis. Today an important local landmark and reminder of the past, the Porta Nuova gate was extensively rebuilt during the 17th century and is particularly notable thanks to its massive Hermes columns and loggia.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

La Martorana

Address: Piazza Bellini 2, Palermo, Italy, IT
Tel: +39 091 616 1692
'La Martorana' is a historic Norman church, founded by George of Antioch and built in the 12th century. Baroque modifications were made in the 16th century. Its official name is actually Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio, or St. Mary of the Admiral. Of particular note to visitors are the church's fine Byzantine mosaics, which are featured inside and best viewed in the light of early morning. These mosaics depict religious scenes showing Christ, the Madonna and the Apostles, as well as Sicily's own King Roger being crowned by Christ.
Open hours: Monday to Saturday - 08:00 to 13:00 and 15:30 to 18:00, Sunday - 08:30 to 13:00
Admission: free

Lo Spasimo

Address: Via Santa Maria dello Spasimo 13, Palermo, Italy, IT
Tel: +39 091 616 1486
This atmospheric ruin started out life as the Church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo. In fact, building work on the church was never completely finished. In the mid-16th century, the area was used instead as a bastion to defend the threat of Turkish invasion. Subsequently used as a theatre, hospital and warehouse for works of art, visitors today can wander among the ruins of Lo Spasimo and get a real sense of the history that has been acted out within its walls.
Open hours: daily - 08:00 to 12:00
Admission: free

Monte Pellegrino

This is the mountain that dominates the city of Palermo. A climb to the top of Monte Pellegrino affords visitors some splendid panoramic views, as well as a chance to visit the Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia, housed inside a cave.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free