La Martorana - Palermo
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PALERMO

The City is situated on the margins of the Conca d’Oro, on the Tirreno Sea, in the ample Golf of Palermo. It is dominated by Mount Pellegrino (on which the Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia is situated, an annual Meta of a huge, popular pilgrimage on 3-4 September).

L’asse viario (the Viario Axis) of historical Palermo is constituted from Cassaro (from Arabic qasr, meaning castle), today’s Corso V. Emanuele (already Via Toledo), which runs from Porta Felice up to Porta Nuova, on the hill, meeting perpendicularly in the small square called “i Quattro Canti” (Piazza Vigliena), to the a large arterial City road: via Mequeda, that from porta Sant’Antonino arrives at porta Maqueda. The crossroads between the two main arterial roads marks the nucleus of the old City, around which, over the years, the Arabian-Norman and Spanish Palermo was developed. Under the Bourbons, the City was amplified outside the old City walls, in the direction of Monreale, beyond Cassaro.

Palermo is the native land of poets and authors (Giovanni Meli, Giuseppe Tomasi of Lampedusa), of architects (G. Amato, the Basile’s), sculpturers and plasterers (the Gagini’s, Procopio and G. Serpotta), of musicians (A. Scarlatti, E. Petrella), of patriots, scientists and politicians, as well as philosophers and historians.

Regardless of its Greek name Pànormos, it was originally a Phoenician settlement and then a Carthaginian one, and thanks to an excellent port, it became the most powerful fortress in Sicily. Apart from the temporary conquest by Pirro (276 BC), it remained in the hands of the Carthaginians until 254-253BC, when it was conquered by the Romans. It therefore took on the status of civitas libera et immunis (an independent and duty-free state) and was established as a colony by Augusto around 20BC, remaining the same with Vespasiano and Adriano.

Christianity reached Africa, probably at the dawning of its civilization: definite confirmation of the first Bishop dates back to the 5th Century.
From the 5th Century, there was a succession of conquests and surrenders: the Vandali of Genserico, Odoacre (476), the Ostrogoth’s (493), Belisario (535); retaken by Totila (549), then due to the decisive victories of Narsete, it returned shortly after (552) to the Byzantines, who reintroduced their institutions and, in the complex, favoured its re-birth. In 831, after a siege of some months, it was occupied by the Arabs, who installed a domination destined to last almost two and a half centuries.
The Muslims left indelible signs of their own civilization in the political-social structure, in fashion and in the City’s look. Around the mid 10th Century, it was the capital of the independent emirate of Banu Kalb, therefore becoming a metropolis of 200,000 inhabitants where industry and commerce, mosques, Palaces and gardens flourished. In this period, the centre of Christian religion, and the Episcopate, transferred to Monreale.

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PALERMO
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Sicily region, Island of Italy

 

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