Palermo is Sicily’s cultural, economic and tourism 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
The capital of Sicily was founded by Phoenicians under the name of “Ziz” (= Flower, but the meaning is still uncertain) and later renamed by Greeks “Panormos”, which means “all port”. It reached its golden age during the Arab domination (9th to 11th centuries AD) when it became one of the most prosperous cities in the Mediterranean and Europe, known as “city of delights” for its marvelous and lavish gardens, as well as for magnificent mosques and palaces.
After being conquered by the Normans (1060-1080 AD), most of palaces and mosques were destroyed, but the new rulers exploited the cosmopolitan environment of Palermo and the artists, architects and masters from different cultural roots giving the birth to a unique architectural style, the so-called “Arab-Norman Style of Sicily”, which is an original mixture of arabesque decorations, Romanesque architecture and Byzantine mosaics.
After being home to one of the most famous emperors of the Middle Ages, Frederik II of Swabia, named “Stupor Mundi” by contemporaries, Palermo began its decadence under the influence of several dominations In the mid-19th century, Palermo was one the leading revolutionary cities in Italy, strongly contributing to the success of the “Mille” (literally “one thousand”), a patriots’ expedition lead by the famous Italian national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi which ended with the reunification of Italy under the Savoy dynasty from Turin (1860).
Nowadays, Palermo faces several problems affecting its economic development, mainly because of the presence of the very powerful criminal organization known worldwide as “Mafia” or “Cosa Nostra”. The city’s economy is based on local government institutions, port, shipbuilding industry and the mechanical industry. It is also seat to some important Sicilian wine making companies (like Tasca d’Almerita, Duca di Salaparuta, Corvo, Planeta, etc.) whose popularity in the world is growing.