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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Related pages

Castello della Zisa
Piazza Guglielmo il Buono/Piazza Zisa (follow signs to Cantiere La Zisa)
tel. +39-091-652-0269
Open Tues–Sat 9am–7pm
Open Sun–Mon 9am–1:30pm
Bus: 124

Palermo information
Palermo tourist office
Piazza Castelnuovo 34
tel. +39-091-605-8351

Also useful:


Palermo hotels
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Reid's Recommended hotels in Palermo
★★ Centrale Palace Hotel [€€–€€€]
★★ Hotel Letizia [€€–€€€]
★★ B&B Ai Cartari [€€–€€€]
Hotel Grande Albergo Sole [€€€]
Hotel Posta [€€]
Hotel Cortese [€]

» More hotels in Palermo[from €30]
» B&Bs in Palermo[from €30]
» Apartments in Palermo[from €49]


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This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in September 2012. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 2008–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett