The City of Palermo as Seen From the Cathedral Rooftop

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Palermo‘s cathedral is fascinating not just for tourists, but even for the locals who pass by on a daily basis. During the daytime, the Romanesque, Norman, Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical details are all visible, and in the evening, aglow with yellow light, it becomes even more impressive and seductive.

Fortunately for us, the cathedral offers numerous tours in both the daytime and after dark. One of the most spectacular is the rooftop tour.

After gathering a certain number of people inside the church, the group is invited to ascend. It feels a little reminiscent of a Dan Brown novel as you gain access to the roof via a hidden passage behind the chapel.

The sheer amount of stairs, narrow quarters, and height make the rooftop tour inadvisable for anyone suffering from a heart condition or claustrophobia, but for those who can handle it, it is beyond worth it.

On the first few terraces, a guide begins with an introductory explanation of the church’s history and architectural style using a very useful laser pointer. If you are part of a large group, I recommend staying as close to the guide as possible so that you can hear better.

The second part of the visit is walking along the rooftop in autonomy when you’ll be able to admire Palermo by night from above the spectacular city.

The climb alone is exciting as you make your way up the cathedral tower and catch glimpses of the city from various perspectives through the tiny cutout “windows”. 

The visit ends inside the church where some of the royal tombs (from the Normans to Frederick II) are located and tell part of both the cathedral’s and Sicily’s fascinating story.

Overall, the nighttime rooftop tour is a pleasant way to productively spend an hour of your evening learning about Palermo’s history and being seduced by its many charms.  

For more information, visit the Cathedral’s official website

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