Zisa Castle (Castello della Zisa) is yet another remnant of Moorish reign in Sicily. The Norman castle was built in the 12th century, and it’s worth a visit although the interior has long since been cleared of its original decoration.
The palace of La Zisa was originally designed as part of an extensive park that served as a royal summer retreat. The grounds were stocked with wild animals (and fenced), giving the royals something to hunt. The park, known as the Genoard, also included another Norman-era palace that still stands in Palermo, La Cuba.
There were architectural alterations made in the 14th century, and by the 16th century the building had fallen into disrepair - it was even being used to store items contaminated with the plague. In the 1970s, city officials in Palermo acquired and began to restore La Zisa, a project that took more than 20 years. Today, the palace houses a Museum of Islamic Art on the second floor. The most impressive room is called the “Fountain Room,” a two-storey chamber into which you enter from the main doors, which contains some of its original Moorish decorations.
La Zisa and its adjacent garden are open daily, with hours varying from weekdays to weekends.