About Palermo

Palermo, ancient (Latin) Panormus, is the capital of the island region of Sicily in Italy. It lies on Sicily's northwestern coast at the head of the Bay of Palermo, facing east. Inland the city is enclosed by a fertile plain known as the Conca d'Oro (Golden Shell), which is planted with citrus groves and backed by mountains. Mount Pellegrino rises to a height of 1,988 feet (606 m) north of the city.
The present name is derived from the Greek "Panormos", meaning "all harbour". Palermo was founded by Phoenician traders in the 8th century BC, who named it "Zyz" ("Flower" or "Shining"). It later became a Carthaginian settlement until its capture by the Romans in 254 BC. The city decayed under Roman rule but prospered after AD 535, when the Byzantine general Belisarius recovered it from the Ostrogoths. The Arabs conquered Palermo in 831, and it flourished as a centre of rich trade with North Africa. Palermo was thus quite prosperous when it fell to the Norman adventurers Roger I and Robert Guiscard in 1072. The ensuing era of Norman rule (1072-1194) was Palermo's golden age, particularly after the founding of the Norman kingdom of Sicily in 1130 by Roger II. Palermo became the capital of this kingdom, in which Greeks, Arabs, Jews, and Normans worked together with singular harmony to create a cosmopolitan culture of remarkable vitality.
Norman rule in Sicily was replaced in 1194 by that of the German Hohenstaufen dynasty. The Hohenstaufen Holy Roman emperor Frederick II shifted the centre of imperial politics to southern Italy and Sicily, and the cultural brilliance of his court at Palermo was renowned throughout western Europe. The city declined under succeeding Hohenstaufen rulers. It was conquered by the French Charles of Anjou in 1266, but Angevin oppression was ended in 1282 by a popular uprising called the Sicilian Vespers. Palermo then came under Aragonese rule. After 1412 the crown of Sicily was united with that of Aragon, and subsequently with that of Spain. Palermo declined during this long period of Spanish rule. In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi seized Palermo, which the following year joined the united kingdom of Italy. The city was severely bombed in July 1943, when it was taken by Allied troops. Parts of old Palermo, where buildings were destroyed during World War II, remained unrestored into the 1990s.
Palermo has some notable buildings from the Norman and succeeding periods.
The Normans were eclectic, and their fascination with Arabic architecture was matched only by their passion for Byzantine mosaics. They expanded, altered and added to many existing buildings, and, as often as not, used Arab craftsmen for the work.
Today Palermo, with an urban area population of more than 850000, is Sicily's cultural, economic and touristic capital. It attracts many tourists for its nice Mediterranean weather, its renowned gastronomy and restaurants, its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque churches, palaces and buildings, and its nightlife and music.


For additional information about Palermo go to http://www.visitpalermo.it/palermo_eng.html

or http://www.bestofsicily.com/index.htm