The Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Palermo is popularly called Càssaro and is the oldest street in the city. It runs gradually downhill from the Porta Nuova at the top of the hill to the Porta Felice near the coast. It has a length of around 2 kilometers.
Corso Vittorio Emanuele Palermo
What is now the Corso Vittorio Emanuele is the oldest street of the city. It was originally laid when Palermo was founded by the Phoenicians. At the time it was the main road between the harbor and the necropolis. The latter was located just outside the city walls.
When the Arabs conquered the city it became the connection between the Porta di Mare and the Royal Palace. It is from here that all the other streets and alleys fanned out. It was named Sìmat al balat (“paved street”).
Under the Normans it was renamed Via Marmorea (“Marble Street”, because of its white pavement.
In 1564, the viceroy Garzia de Toledo added the stretch to the Santa Maria di Porto Salvo Church. He also had the name changed to Via Toledo.
In 1581, the viceroy Marcantonio Colonna had the street prolonged all the way to the coast. The Porta Felice was also constructed in that period.
On October 21st, 1860, after a referendum, Sicily became part of the Kingdom of Italy. On December, the new king Vittorio Emanuele visited Palermo and the street was renamed in his honor.
Main points of interest
The Corso Vittorio Emanuele is book-ended by the city gates Porta Nuova and Porta Felice. The most important buildings are the Cathedral and the Palazzo dei Normanni.
One of only two streets crossing the Via del Corso is the Via Maqueda. The crossing is known as the Quattro Canti. It is here that the four main districts of Palermo meet. The building on the four corners are known for their baroque architecture.
Although the Corso Vittorio Emanuele has a length of around 2 kilometers, it is only crossed by two other streets.
The name Casssaro, generally used by the locals, derives from the Arab al-qasr, and means “castle”.