The Palatine Chapel inside Palermo’s Royal Palace—once the private chapel of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily—is one of the most breathtaking and important attractions in the city. The chapel seems to glow in a golden light, reflected by the ornate mosaics that cover its interior and are considered among the best in Italy.
The original royal chapel inside Palermo’s Royal Palace (also known as the Palazzo Reale or Palazzo dei Normanni) was built during the late 11th century, and the Palatine Chapel (Cappella Palatina) was built on top of it a century later when the art of Byzantine mosaics was at its peak. The shimmering mosaics decorating the chapel interiors combine Norman, Arabic, and Byzantine styles, reflecting the city's cross-cultural history.
The Palatine Chapel is one of the top attractions in Palermo, and is best visited with a guide on a small-group or private tour to appreciate its complex history and important mosaic art. Most walking tours of the historic center of Palermo include a visit to the Royal Palace, home to both the Palatine Chapel and the Royal Apartments. You can also join a hop-on-hop-off bus tour and explore the palace’s chapel and other sights independently.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Walking tours of Palermo largely take place outdoors; a hat and sunscreen are recommended in summer.
- Touring the Royal Palace entails a fair amount of walking, so wear comfortable footwear.
- You must wear modest attire that covers the knees and shoulders to enter the chapel.
- The palace is accessible to wheelchairs and visitors are accompanied by a staff member to guarantee full access to the apartments and chapel (excluding the crypt).
How to Get There
The Palatine Chapel is located inside the Royal Palace in the heart of the city’s historic center, within walking distance of the port and train station. You can reach Sicily from mainland Italy by ferry, train, or plane.
When to Get There
The Royal Palace is the seat of the Sicilian Parliament; when parliament is in session (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday), the Royal Apartments are closed to the public. If you are interested in touring both the apartments and the Palatine Chapel inside the palace, visit between Friday and Monday.
Palermo’s Royal Palace
Palermo’s Palazzo dei Normanni is the oldest royal palace in Europe, an imposing Norman palace that was home to the Kings of Sicily during the Norman occupation. Today, the vast ninth-century building is seat to the Sicilian Parliament as well as the historic Royal Apartments and the Palatine Chapel.