How can a bridge be recognized as a World Heritage site?
The reason is simple... In 1113 the Commander George of Antioch, Admiral of Count Roger II, ordered to build a bridge to cross the Oreto River and to have a direct connection between the city and the green spaces that were on the other side of the river, in the area today called " Brancaccio ". The bridge bears enormous loads and has managed to resist the historical events that have followed during the course of the centuries thanks to the use of the very sharp arches and its structure in general.
Do you know why the way that leads to the Admiral's bridge is called "Corso dei Mille"? This is the road traveled by the army of the Mille of General Garibaldi that in 1860 crossing the bridge to defeat the government of the Bourbons and liberate Palermo in the name of Italy’s Unification.
Today, under the Norman Bridge no longer flows the river but a green expanse that stands out its beauty making it the absolute protagonist and witness of stories and events that have followed during the centuries.
MARTORANA - SANTA MARIA DELL’AMMIRAGLIO CHURCH
In the historical center of Palermo, in Piazza Bellini, stands the Church of “Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio” also known by the name “Martorana”. It was built in 1143, commissioned by Admiral George of Antioch as a sign of appreciation for the protection received by the Bless Virgin.
The Church was later assigned to the Byzantine Greek clergy and this is why it is characterized by different styles and religious recalls: the baroque façade and the Norman wall surface, columns supporting the dome decorated with the Christ surrounded byangels, walls with ancient inscriptions repeating the name of Allah while the interior is decorated with fascinating Byzantine mosaics.
The Martorana belongs to the Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi, a community of Arbëreshe origin, and the liturgy is celebrated in Byzantine rite for the Italo-Albanians residing in the city.
n 1400 the church was ceded to the order of Benedictine nuns, the inventers of the typical marzipan sweets "martorana fruit", small works of art consumed during the "commemoration of the deceased", on November 02nd.
CATHEDRAL OF PALERMO
One of the most evocative monuments in the city of the Arab-Norman route. It is the symbol par excellence of the contamination of cultures, styles and peoples that have crossed the city over the centuries, don't you think so?
Cathedral origins date back to the fourth century after the Edict of Constantine. After a century it was destroyed by the vandals and then rebuilt in 590 by the will of St. Gregory the Great and turned into a Qa'ba mosque around 831 to be restored to Christian cult by the Normans. The majesty of the Cathedral as we know it today is owed to Archbishop Gualtiero Offamilio who promotes the construction of the Cathedral in 1184 to demonstrate the supremacy of the clergy to King William who had meanwhile built the cathedral of Monreale in today's Square William II. The succession of these events has given rise to one of the most complex examples of Arab-Norman architecture.
The exterior of the Cathedral strongly recalls a fortress. The main features of the Cathedral are represented by the four towers positioned on the 4 angles of the church and characterised by double windows and columns and by the two pointed arches that link the cathedral to the Archbishop's palace. On the right side of the cathedral there is a portico that overlooks on the opposite square. On the kettledrum there are decorative elements and two coats that symbolize Aragonese and Palermo Senate power. Of great interest is also the inscription on the first column to the left of the portico, a passage of the Koran as testimony of the use of the structure as a place of Muslim cult.
Also the inside of the Cathedral has suffered deep transformations over the time. Its plant is based on Latin cross with three aisles divided from pillars. In the aisle of right there are the imperial and real graves of the Norman ones that have governed the city. Among the most important, we remember Fred II and Roger II sarcophagus. During the modern remaking, on the central aisle floor it was realized a sundial in marble with coloured tarsie that represents the zodiac signs. To the right of the presbytery there is Santa Rosalia Chapel, patron of Palermo, with the relics and the silver urn. The cathedral cherishes a veritable treasure that can be admired in the Treasury room. Here, for centuries, sacred vestments, chalices, the Constance of Aragon Golden Tiara and examples of medieval jewellery have been preserved.