Mystical and legendary Palermo

Mystical and legendary Palermo

At short distance from the Quattro Canti, the central place of the city of Palermo, Piazza Pretoria is one of its most fascinating places that, during the itinerary, is enriched with curiosity and is covered with a veil of legend.

Despite the fact that, with its monumental fountain and marble statues, it’s a true architectural masterpiece, Piazza Pretoria is commonly known as Piazza della Vergogna, for Palermo inhabitants a historic symbol of local malpractice and corruption. It seems that the cloistered nuns, in the past, damaged the statues in order to hide their nudity and genitals. This is the reason why the itinerary continues with a visit to the Church of Santa Caterina D’Alessandria, where the cloistered nuns lived.

Not only that: Piazza Pretoria is also the protagonist of a legend that has been handed down for generations in Palermo, and which tells of the lust of the Queen of Naples, Giovanna D’Angiò. In fact, through the streets of the city the buzz told that the queen had a copulation with a horse from the royal stables, and this episode would be represented by one of the statues of Piazza Pretoria, which depicts a woman and a horse.

Beyond any legend and curiosity, what is certain is that Piazza Pretoria is considered one of the most beautiful Italian squares, with its fine decorations and ornamental statues to make it an open-air work of art. To complete the visit of Piazza Pretoria one obligatory step is the visit to the Dolceria of the church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, the Pulcherrima Res Società Cooperativa Sociale. Here, visitors can taste the Martorana fruit and listen to the legend of the Sisters of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio who invented this dessert of the Palermo tradition.

From mystery to mystery, legend to legend, the path moves up to the Church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo, known to be the ancient church without a roof of Palermo. Built during the sixteenth century on the model of the Church of Our Lady of the Spasm in Jerusalem, the Palermitan ‘version’ has never been completed. An unfinished jewel in the city, but where nothing is as it seems. In fact, many believe that the roof was destroyed by earthquakes or bombings, but the reality is that it was never built because the works were interrupted before it was completed.

Today, the Spasimo is a deconsecrated church used above all as a location for events, concerts and cultural events, to which it offers a frame of exceptional charm.

Point of Interest

  • Piazza Pretoria
  • Quattro Canti
  • Santa Caterina D’Alessandria
  • Dolceria della chiesa di Santa Caterina
  • Chiesa di Santa Maria dello Spasimo


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