The Zisa: a Norman jewel in the heart of Palermo
A short walk from our Guest House, going from via Dante is the charming castle Zisa, from the Arabic ‘Al Aziz’ or the splendid.
Founded during the Norman period by William I called ‘the Bad’, and completed around 1175 by his son William II ‘the Good’, it is the most representative example of Fatimid architecture in the Norman age. The Zisa Castle was the summer residence of the kings and was built by an architect of the Islamic cultural matrix. There are many architectural features that make the building more comfortable in the summer heat, such as the north-eastern exposure of the windows which allows air to move through the rooms of the palace, and fountains to moisten the air making it cooler and more breathable . Recently the Zisa Castle has been restored with a great example of restoration that reveals the difference between the original and new parts.
Besides the beautiful architecture inside the Castle there are also marvelous mosaics of Norman age and a mysterious fresco of more recent times with many devils, so-called ‘Devils Zisa’. A legend says that it is impossible to count all the devils because they are hiding all the time, the one that one day is able to count them will find a treasure of inestimable value which will cancel all poverty in Palermo.