Palermo

For other uses, see Palermo (disambiguation).
Palermo
Comune
Città di Palermo
Clockwise from top: Mondello, Teatro Massimo, Cappella Palatina, Zisa, Cathedral, Virgin Annunciate of Antonello da Messina, Quattro Canti in Maqueda Street, Churches of Martorana and San Cataldo, Interior of Santa Caterina Church, Pretoria Square and Mount Pellegrino
Clockwise from top: Mondello, Teatro Massimo, Cappella Palatina, Zisa, Cathedral, Virgin Annunciate of Antonello da Messina, Quattro Canti in Maqueda Street, Churches of Martorana and San Cataldo, Interior of Santa Caterina Church, Pretoria Square and Mount Pellegrino
Flag of Palermo
Flag
Coat of arms of Palermo
Coat of arms
Palermo is located in Italy
Palermo
Palermo
Palermo is located in Europe
Palermo
Palermo
Location of Palermo in Italy
Coordinates: 38°07′N 13°22′E / 38.117°N 13.367°E / 38°07′N 13°22′E / 38.117; 13.367
Country Italy
Region Europe
Province / Metropolitan city Palermo (PA)
Founded 736 BC
Government
 • Mayor Leoluca Orlando ( I)
Area
 • Total 158.9 km2 (61.4 sq mi)
Elevation 14 m (46 ft)
Population (31 January 2013)
 • Total 676,118 (city)
1,300,000 (metro)
Demonym(s) Palermitani or Panormiti
Time zone CET ( UTC+1)
 • Summer ( DST) CEST ( UTC+2)
Postal code 90100
Dialing code 091
Patron saint Saint Rosalia, Saint Agata, Saint Oliva and Saint Benedict the Moor
Saint day 14 July
Website Official website

Palermo (Italian:  [paˈlɛrmo], Sicilian: Palermu, Latin: Panormus, from Greek: Πάνορμος, Panormos, Arabic: بَلَرْم‎‎, Balarm; Phoenician: זִיז, Ziz) is a city of Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Metropolitan City of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old. Palermo is located in the northwest of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The city was founded in 734 BC by the Phoenicians as Ziz ('flower'). Palermo then became a possession of Carthage, before becoming part of the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire and eventually part of the Byzantine Empire, for over a thousand years. The Greeks named the city Panormus meaning 'complete port'. From 831 to 1072 the city was under Arab rule during the Emirate of Sicily when the city first became a capital. The Arabs shifted the Greek name into Balarm, the root for Palermo's present-day name. Following the Norman reconquest, Palermo became the capital of a new kingdom (from 1130 to 1816), the Kingdom of Sicily and the capital of the Holy Roman Empire under Frederick II Holy Roman Emperor and Conrad IV of Germany, King of the Romans. Eventually Sicily would be united with the Kingdom of Naples to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies until the Italian unification of 1860.

The population of Palermo urban area is estimated by Eurostat to be 855,285, while its metropolitan area is the fifth most populated in Italy with around 1.2 million people. In the central area, the city has a population of around 676,000 people. The inhabitants are known as Palermitani or, poetically, panormiti. The languages spoken by its inhabitants are the Italian language, Sicilian language and the Palermitano dialect.

Palermo is Sicily's cultural, economic and touristic capital. It is a city rich in history, culture, art, music and food. Numerous tourists are attracted to the city for its good Mediterranean weather, its renowned gastronomy and restaurants, its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque churches, palaces and buildings, and its nightlife and music. [1] Palermo is the main Sicilian industrial and commercial center: the main industrial sectors include tourism, services, commerce and agriculture. [2] Palermo currently has an international airport, and a significant underground economy.[ citation needed] In fact, for cultural, artistic and economic reasons, Palermo was one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean and is now among the top tourist destinations in both Italy and Europe. It is the main seat of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale. The city is also going through careful redevelopment, preparing to become one of the major cities of the Euro-Mediterranean area. [3]

Roman Catholicism is highly important in Palermitano culture. The Patron Saint of Palermo is Santa Rosalia whose Feast Day is celebrated on 15 July. The area attracts significant numbers of tourists each year and is widely known for its colourful fruit, vegetable and fish markets at the heart of Palermo, known as Vucciria, Ballarò and Capo. [4]

Geography

View of Palermo from Monte Pellegrino.

Palermo lies in a basin, formed by the Papireto, Kemonia and Oreto rivers. The basin was named the Conca d'Oro (the Golden Basin) by the Arabs in the 9th century. The city is surrounded by a mountain range which is named after the city itself. These mountains face the Tyrrhenian Sea. Palermo is home to a natural port and offers excellent views to the sea, especially from Monte Pellegrino.

Topography

Monte Pellegrino pictured at the end of the 19th century; the mountain is visible from everywhere in the city

Palermo is surrounded by mountains, formed of calcar, which form a cirque around the city. Some districts of the city are divided by the mountains themselves. Historically, it was relatively difficult to reach the inner part of Sicily from the city because of the mounts. The tallest peak of the range is La Pizzuta, about 1,333 metres (4,373 ft) high. However, historically, the most important mount is Monte Pellegrino, which is geographically separated from the rest of the range by a plain. The mount lies right in front of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Monte Pellegrino's cliff was described in the 19th century by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as "the most beautiful promontory in the world", in his essay " Italian Journey".

Rivers

Today both the Papireto river and the Kemonia are covered up by buildings. However, the shape of the former watercourses can still be recognised today, because the streets that were built on them follow their shapes. Today the only waterway not drained yet is the Oreto river that divides the downtown of the city from the western uptown and the industrial districts. In the basins there were, though, many seasonal torrents that helped formed swampy plains, reclaimed during history; a good example of which can be found in the borough of Mondello.