La Zisa

An Arab-style palace in Palermo

William I's 1165 palace may have been built by a Norman king, but it is entirely Islamic in concept and decor—even its original name, el aziz, is Arabic for "the magnificent."

It is a palace of simple appearance but geometric perfection.

After several baroque-era refurbishments and a long decay, a large section of the palace collapsed in 1971.

By 1990, La Zisa was restored to its original, Arabo-Norman design, and today you can tour the rooms, now largely empty save for some displays of intricately carved wooden window screens and engraved Egyptian metalwork and ceramics from the 14th century BC.

The highlight is the main entrance hall, open to a loggia on one side and decorated with Norman mosaics and intricately coffered stalactite vault niches called mouqarnas.

A fountain in the hall spills into a trough that runs out of the room and down the steps to feed a garden pool and, beyond that, forms the narrow, central canal of the Giardino Belvedere della Zisa, restored in 2005 to reflect a typical Arabic-styled pleasure garden streching in front of La Zisa.

 

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Tips & links

Details

Castello della Zisa
Piazza Guglielmo il Buono/Piazza Zisa (follow signs to Cantiere La Zisa)
tel. +39-091-652-0269
www.regione.sicilia.it/beniculturali
Open Tues–Sat 9am–7pm
Open Sun–Mon 9am–1:30pm
Contacts for admisson prices

Bus: 124; 110, 122; 475

Planning your time

It takes about 30–45 minutes to wander the entire complex—though add another 10–15 minutes each way to get out here.

Cumulative ticket

You can also get into the church grounds on a cumulative ticket that also covers the Palazzo Abatellis art museum, San Giovanni degli Eremiti, the Duomo cloisters in Monreale, and—somewhat less usefully—a nature and archaeology museum in the coastal town of Terrasini.

Tourist info

Palermo tourist office
Piazza Castelnuovo 34
tel. +39-091-605-8351
www.turismopalermo.it
www.provincia.palermo.it/turismo

Also useful:
www.comune.palermo.it
www.palermotourism.com

Buses: www.amat.pa.it
Trains: www.trenitalia.com
Airport: www.gesap.it
Port: www.portpalermo.it

Tours of Palermo
Lodging in Palermo
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Details
Castello della Zisa
Piazza Guglielmo il Buono/Piazza Zisa (follow signs to Cantiere La Zisa)
tel. +39-091-652-0269
www.regione.sicilia.it/beniculturali
Open Tues–Sat 9am–7pm
Open Sun–Mon 9am–1:30pm
Call for admisson prices

Bus: 124; 110, 122; 475
Tourist Info

Palermo tourist office
Piazza Castelnuovo 34
tel. +39-091-605-8351
www.turismopalermo.it
www.provincia.palermo.it/turismo

Also useful:
www.comune.palermo.it
www.palermotourism.com

Buses: www.amat.pa.it
Trains: www.trenitalia.com
Airport: www.gesap.it
Port: www.portpalermo.it


Palermo lodging
Find hotels in Palermo
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Reid's Recommended hotels in Palermo
★★ Centrale Palace Hotel [€€]
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Hotel Posta [€€]
Hotel Cortese [€€]

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