Black Castle 

The imposing castle at Aci Castello was constructed out of black volcanic rock on top of La Rocca by the Normans starting in the late 11th century. Prior to that time, the promontory hosted both an Arab and Byzantine fortification. The castle was somewhat destroyed in a siege at the turn of the 13th century…

A Tranquil Fountain

At one corner of the Cloister of the Cathedral of Monreale, there is a bubbling fountain surrounded by a few of the 228 unique columns that make up this tranquil, not-to-be-missed site. Built around 1200 AD, William II commissioned artisans from Sicily as well as those from Venice in order to create a unique sanctuary–both…

She Wore a Red Cherry Beret

The red domes of San Cataldo church overlook Via Maqueda and Piazza Bellini in Palermo. San Cataldo was built during the early-Norman era in the 1150s by Maio of Bari, William I’s top emir, or commander. Its red domes and elegant window details illustrate the unique Arab-Norman architectural style found only in Sicily.

Watch Your Step

Every inch of the Cappella Palatina is embellished with intricate mosaics of inlaid marble, colorful stones, and golden glass tiles. This floor detail illustrates the multi-cultural mix (Norman, Arab, Greek, and Byzantine) that existed during Roger II’s 12th-century rule, when the Palazzo dei Normanni’s chapel was built.

Persia or Palermo?

The Cloister of the Cathedral at Monreale is one of my most favorite places in Sicily. 228 uniquely designed columns and a bubbling fountain line the center garden. The Norman-Arab architecture leads you to believe you could be in ancient Persia. It’s beautiful and peaceful and has a story all its own.

Kalsa’s Magione

“La Magione” basilica in the originally-Arab Kalsa district of Palermo is another example of Norman-Arab architecture. Built around 1190, it is one of the oldest churches in Palermo. It’s proper name is the Basilica of the Holy Trinity of the Chancellor. It came to be commonly known as La Magione because “magione” translates to “mansion.”…

That’s Dedication

Among all of the summer-fun of today’s Ferragosto celebration, let’s not forget that today is The Assumption, the feast day that celebrates the occasion when the Virgin Mother ascended into Heaven. This Byzantine-style mosaic, which dates between 1146-1151, is from Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio or “The Martorana” church in Palermo. It shows Admiral George of Antioch…

An Arab-Norman-Greek-Byzantine Star

Every inch of the Cappella Palatina is embellished with intricate mosaics of inlaid marble, colorful stones, and golden glass tiles. This detail illustrates the multi-cultural mix (Norman, Arab, Greek, and Byzantine) that existed during Roger II’s 12th-century rule, when the Palazzo dei Normanni’s chapel was built.