Posted in Italy

Archtrove travels to Sicily – the toe to the boot

Architecture in Sicily

In the centre of Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island lies an active volcano and the draw for this island. However, there is so much more to Sicily than meets the eye. Its rich history is scattered on the island, reflecting its diversity as the base for many wars and invasions. From the Valley of the Temples, the well-preserved ruins of 7 monumental and the Doric-style Greek temples, to the Byzantine mosaics at the Cappella Palatina and the former royal chapel in capital city Palermo.

Architecture in Sicily and its Landscape

Sicily has been luring passersby since the time of legends, praised by poets from Homer to Virgil and prized by the many ancient cultures – Phoenicians, Romans and Greeks. Whether in the classical perfection of Agrigento’s Concordia temple, the rubble of Selinunte’s columns, reminders of bygone civilisations are everywhere.

Arabian and Norman Influence within Architecture in Sicily

In the first centuries of the second millennium when the Normans invaded the island, at the time under Arab control, rather than destroying the traces of Arab civilization, they adapted their own styles, giving birth to one of the most extraordinary periods both for Sicily and for the Mediterranean. A flourishing of architecture with the cathedrals of Monreale and Cefalù, the church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, the splendid Norman palace of Orleans. Lush gardens, the result of advanced technology and irrigation, palm trees and citrus groves surround the capital. Byzantine, Arab and gothic influences blend in to create a unique experimental style, the symbol of a flourishing culture that saw Palermo at the forefront of Europe, comparable only to Cordoba, Byzantium and Baghdad. The port of Palermo alone saw more trade than the whole of England.

Byzantine and Baroque Architecture in Sicily

As if its classical heritage weren’t formidable enough, Sicily is bursting at the seams with later artistic and architectural gems. In a short walk around Palermo, you’ll see Arab domes and arches, Byzantine mosaics and Norman palace walls. Circle around to southeast Sicily and you’ll find a stunning array of baroque architectural masterpieces, from the golden-hued domes and palaces of Noto to the multi-tiered cathedral facades of Ragusa and Modica. Meanwhile, throughout the island, you’ll find yourself stumbling upon the evocative remains of Arab and Norman castles. This embarrassment of cultural riches remains one of the island’s most distinctive attractions.


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