Palermo Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Palermo

Palermo is one of the most famous and well visited cities in Italy. Located in the north of the Sicilian Isle and directly on the shore of the Mediterranean, the city is magnificently designed and constructed. Here you will find a plethora of architectural masterpieces such as old churches, governmental buildings, and various monuments. Follow this orientation walk to explore the best attractions of Palermo.
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Palermo Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Palermo Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Palermo (See other walking tours in Palermo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 17
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 Km or 3.2 Miles
Author: Lilly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Cathedral of Palermo
  • Museo Diocesano
  • Porta Nuova
  • Piazza Indipendenza
  • Palazzo dei Normanni
  • Mercato di Ballarò
  • San Cataldo Church
  • La Martorana
  • Fontata Pretoria
  • Quattro Canti
  • Mercato della Vucciria
  • Colonna Immacolata
  • Chiesa San Domenico
  • Teatro Massimo
  • Teatro Politeama
  • Piazza Castelnuovo
  • Capo Market
Cathedral of Palermo

1) Cathedral of Palermo (must see)

The Cathedral of Palermo is an architectural complex, characterized by the presence of different styles, due to a long history of additions, alterations and restorations, the last of which occurred in the 18th century. The church was erected in 1185 by Walter Ophamil (or Walter of the Mill), the Anglo-Norman archbishop of Palermo and King William II's minister, on the area of an earlier Byzantine basilica. The upper orders of the corner towers were built between the 14th and the 15th centuries, while in the early Renaissance period the southern porch was added.

The present neoclassical appearance dates from the work carried out over the two decades 1781 to 1801, and supervised by Ferdinando Fuga. The main façade of the church is on the Western side, on the current Via Bonello, and has the appearance set in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is flanked by two towers and has a Gothic portal surmounted by a niche with a precious 15th century Madonna. The interior has a Latin cross plan, with a nave and two aisles divided by pilasters. In the first two chapels of the right aisle are the tomb of emperors and royal figures moved here in the 18th century from their original sites. The Sacrament chapel, at the end of the left aisles, is decorated with precious stones and lapislazuli. To the right, in the presbytery, is the chapel of Saint Rosalia, patron of Palermo, closed by a richly ornamental bronze gate, with relics and a 17th century silver urn which is object of particular devotion.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Diocesano

2) Museo Diocesano (must see)

Museo Diocesano was founded in 1927 by Cardinal Alessandro Lualdi. The goal was to prevent the destruction of cultural art in the church. The museum was under several different titles until it was destroyed and restored again on December 22nd, 2003.
Porta Nuova

3) Porta Nuova (must see)

Porta Nuove (The New Gate) was erected in the late 14th century by Viceroy Marcantonio. The main idea of the gate was to commemorate the victory of Charles V over the Turkish army. The original gate was destroyed in 1667, but then rebuilt in the second half of the 15th century. Regardless of the fact that it has been reconstructed, Porta Nuova still preserves the neoclassic forms of the ancient triumphal arches.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Piazza Indipendenza

4) Piazza Indipendenza

Piazza Indipendenza is incredibly large and serves as the residence of the Sicilian Regional Assembly. Within a short walk from the piazza is the University of Palermo. The square features a beautiful central garden, as well as a historic defensive wall, known as "murrari".
Palazzo dei Normanni

5) Palazzo dei Normanni (must see)

The Palazzo dei Normanni, or Royal Palace of Palermo, was the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination and served afterwards as the main seat of power for the subsequent rulers of Sicily. Today it is the seat of the regional parliament of Sicily.

The palace stands in what is the highest point of the ancient centre of the city, just above the first Punic settlements, whose remains can still be found in the basement. The first building, the Qasr (in Arabic, castle or palace) is believed to have been started in the 9th century by the Emir of Palermo. Parts of this early building are still visible in the foundations and in the basements, where typical arabian vaults are present.

After the Normans conquered Sicily in 1072 (just 6 years after they conquered England) and established Palermo as the capital of the new Kingdom of Sicily, the palace was chosen as the main residence of the kings. The palace contains the Cappella Palatina, by far the best example of the so-called Arab-Norman-Byzantine style that prevailed in the 12th-century Sicily. The wonderful mosaics, the wooden roof, elaborately fretted and painted, and the marble incrustation of the lower part of the walls and the floor are very fine. Of the palace itself the greater part was rebuilt and added in Catalan times, but there are some other parts of Roger's work left, specially the hall called Sala Normanna.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Mercato di Ballarò

6) Mercato di Ballarò (must see)

Mercato di Ballarò is the oldest market of the City as well as one of the largest. The popular market is the first in Palermo to sell fresh goods and naturally grown products. The voices of the vendors crying out for customers never cease, nor does the fantastic variety of items.
San Cataldo Church

7) San Cataldo Church (must see)

San Cataldo is a church linked to the Santa Maria dell' Ammiraglio church. It was founded in 1160 and is a bright example of Norman architecture. It served as a post office during the 18th century, but now it is restored and ready for religious service.
La Martorana

8) La Martorana (must see)

La Martorana or Santa Maria dell' Ammiraglio is a chapel located in Piazza Bellini. It was built in 1143 and is known for its amazing gold Byzantium mosaics. This is probably one of the most beautiful churches in Palermo, having an exterior that displays Norman architecture, Gothic towers and Baroque facades.
Fontata Pretoria

9) Fontata Pretoria (must see)

Fontata Pretoria (The Fountain Pretoria) is located in the center of Piazza Pretoria. The fountain was erected by Francesco Camilliani in the middle of the 14th century. The fountain is decorated with statues of gods and goddesses, animal heads, nymphs, and monsters. Fontata Pretoria is also wonderfully illuminated at night.
Quattro Canti

10) Quattro Canti (must see)

Quattro Canti, officially known as Piazza Vigliena, is a Baroque square in Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy. It was laid out on the orders of the Viceroy the Duke of Maqueda between 1608-1620 by Giulio Lasso at the crossing of the two principal streets in Palermo, the Via Maqueda and the Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The piazza is octagonal four sides being the streets, and the remaining four sides are Baroque buildings the near identical facades of which contain fountains with statues of the four seasons, the four Spanish kings of Sicily, and of the patronesses of Palermo, (Cristina, Ninfa, Olivia, and Agata). The facades onto the interchange are curved, and rise to four floors; the fountains rise to the height of the second floor, the third and fourth floors contain the statues in niches. At the time the piazza was built, it was one of the first major examples of town planning in Europe.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Mercato della Vucciria

11) Mercato della Vucciria (must see)

Mercato della Vucciria (The Vucciria Market) is one the largest and oldest open door markets in the city. During the Roman era, merchants also used the market to trade slaves. Today, it sells a wide variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish.
Colonna Immacolata

12) Colonna Immacolata

La Colonna dell'Immacolata is a monument situated in front of the San Domenico church, in the neighborhood La Loggia. The column was founded in 1728 in the Baroque style. The monument is composed of a marble pedestal and a bronze statue.
Chiesa San Domenico

13) Chiesa San Domenico (must see)

The Church of San Domenico is the second most important church in Palermo after the Cathedral. The church is located in a square of the same name in the old district of La Loggia. The church was built in 1458 and incorporates baroque style characteristics.
Teatro Massimo

14) Teatro Massimo (must see)

The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele is an opera house and opera company located on the Piazza Verdi. It was dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II. It is the biggest in Italy, and one of the largest of Europe, renowned for its perfect acoustics. For many years there had been talk of building a big new theatre in Palermo, worthy of the second biggest city in southern Italy (after Naples) and designed to promote the image of the city following the recent national unity.

The opera house was designed and overseen by the very genial Italian architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile and, following his death in 1891, construction was then overseen by his highly artistic son, Architect Ernesto Basile. The whole construction, from the foundations all the way up to the theatre's attic structures, including all the external decorations of the same building, were completed under Architect Giovanni Rutelli's technical and constructive direction.

The Teatro Massimo is the largest theatre in Italy (and the third largest opera house in Europe). Basile was inspired by ancient and classical Sicilian architecture and, thus, the exterior was designed in the high neoclassical style incorporating elements of the Greek temples at Selinunte and Agrigento. Realized in the late-Renaissance style, the auditorium was planned for 3,000 people, but, in its current format, it seats 1,350, with 7 tiers of boxes rising up around an inclined stage, and shaped in the typical horseshoe style.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Teatro Politeama

15) Teatro Politeama

The Teatro Politeama Garibaldi is one of the most splendid theaters. It was constructed during the second half of the nineteenth century by the architect Giuseppe Damiani Almeyda. Now it “dominates” the square with the same name, situated in the heart of the modern city.
Piazza Castelnuovo

16) Piazza Castelnuovo

Piazza Castelnuovo is a square of Palermo. Along with the contiguous Piazza Ruggero Settimo, it forms a single urban space, commonly called Piazza Politeama, by virtue of the presence of Teatro Politeama, the second most important theatre of the city after Teatro Massimo. The square is located between Via Ruggero Settimo, Viale della Libertà and Via Dante, near the historic centre of Palermo, and represents one of the most popular city's square.
On Piazza Castelnuovo are located a structure called "Palchetto della Musica" (work of Salvatore Valenti), the monument to Carlo Cottone (work of Giovan Battista Palazzotto and Domenico Costantino), the sculptures "Nautica" (work of Mario Rutelli), "Lavoro" (work of Benedetto Civiletti) and "Senzatetto" (work of Pasquale Civiletti).
Sight description based on wikipedia
Capo Market

17) Capo Market

The Capo market is situated behind the Teatro Massimo, in the center of Palermo. Besides the fresh fruits, vegetables and meat that you can purchase here, there is a large variety of souvenirs. The most renown one are the "pupi" puppets and the Sicilian cart, nowadays produced in almost any size.

Walking Tours in Palermo, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Palermo

Create Your Own Walk in Palermo

Creating your own self-guided walk in Palermo is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Religious Buildings (Part 2)

Historical Religious Buildings (Part 2)

Religion is central to the culture of Italy. Thus, the city of Palermo features a wide variety of religious institutions including churches, cathedrals, and temples. Journey down the part two of Palermo's religious buildings tour and enjoy the sights.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
The Palaces of Palermo

The Palaces of Palermo

The palaces of Palermo were and still are a fine manifestation of the historical life of the Palermo region. Amazingly, some of these great palaces still stand while have struggled to retain their original form from centuries earlier. The story of each palace is a terrific visual behind Palermo's rich cultural heritage.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles
Historical Religious Buildings (Part 1)

Historical Religious Buildings (Part 1)

Religion has always played an important role in the lives of the Italian people. Thus, it is little wonder that the great city of Palermo features a plethora of churches, cathedrals, and temples. Here is the first part of Palermo's religious buildings walking tour.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Palermo Museums and Art Galleries

Palermo Museums and Art Galleries

The Museums and the Art Galleries of Palermo are brilliant venues that adequately conserve the rich and beautiful history of this fine city. Wander through the streets of Palermo, venture into these museums and art galleries, and discover the cultural heritage of the city.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 Km or 2.6 Miles