Like almost everywhere else in Italy, Palermo‘s main attractions are located in the city’s central squares. In Palermo, these are primarily the Piazza Ruggero Settimo and the Piazza Castelnuovo, which overlap and together have been nicknamed Piazza Politeama.
Piazza Pretoria is also called the Piazza della Vergogna (“Square of Shame”). It is the central square of the historic part of the city. In 1573, the municipality had a number of houses in the square destroyed in order to install a fountain. From the 18th century until 1860, the square was seen as a symbol of the corrupt municipality, which earned it its nickname.
Piazza Ruggero Settimo
As the city began to develop further north, Piazza Ruggero Settimo became the social center of Palermo. The most important building in the square is the Politeama Theater. The central statue depicts Ruggero Settimo, head of government during the Sicilian revolution of 1848.
Piazza Castelnuovo actually forms one large square together with the neighboring Piazza Ruggero Settimo. This overarching square is known as the Piazza Politeama, because of the theater of the same name. It is located between Via Libertà and Via Ruggero Settimo, the central axis of Palermo. Currently, this square is considered the historical center and most important meeting place of the city.
Piazza San Domenico
Before it was transformed into a square in 1640, Piazza San Domenico was known as Piano Imperiale. The conversions were necessary because it had been decided to raise the façade of the San Domenico Church. It is on this occasion that the huge column with the statue of the Immacolata (“Immaculate”) was placed in the square.
Because of its proximity to a number of tourist attractions and several government buildings, the Piazza dell’Indipendenza is considered one of the most important centrally located squares in the city. It is located just outside the old city walls and is characterized by a central garden and a bastion that belonged to the old wall.
Piazza della Vittoria
The almost perfectly square Piazza della Vittoria is bordered by Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via del Bastione in addition to a number of historic buildings. The center of this square is occupied by the rather large Villa Bonanno garden.
Piazza Marina is located in the historic center of the city. The main attraction is in the middle of the square and is formed by the Villa Garibaldi, which was designed by Giovan Battista Filippo Basile in 1863. Along the square are other historic buildings, including the Palazzo Chiaramonte.
Named after a former viceroy, Piazza Vigliena is located at the intersection of Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele. It is also called Quattro Canti or Ottagono del Sole or Teatro del Sole. The Quattro Canti are the four palaces that make the square perfectly octagonal in shape.
Piazza Bologni was laid out in 1566 and was then called Piazza Carlo d’Aragona, after the then King of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. This rectangular square is intersected by two streets. The statue in the middle of the square depicts Charles V. The plaque on the Palazzo Villafranca refers to Garibaldi’s stay.
Piazza Caracciolo is located in the La Loggia o Mandamento Castello a Mare district in the historic center of the city. It is here that the Vucciria Market, where mainly meat is sold, is held. It was commissioned in 1783 by the then Viceroy Caracciolo, although it has changed considerably since then. In the evening it is taken over by lovers of reggae and rap music.
The oldest, largest and most famous market in Palermo is called Ballarò and is located near the Casa Professa in Piazza Ballarò. The market spreads between Piazza Casa Professa and the bastions of Corso Tukory. Today, the square has gained considerable prestige.
Piazza Casa Professa
Piazza Casa Professa has until recently retained its original 16th century appearance. The main attraction in the square is the Chiesa del Gesù. However, like the other buildings in the square, this has recently been affected by works.
Piazza Garraffello is the heart of the Vucciria Market. At least, this is the case during the day, because in the evening it turns into a kind of open-air drugstore, where mostly reggae, funk, hip hop and rap music can be heard. The fountain in the middle of the square has been there since the 16th century.
Piazza Giulio Cesare
Piazza Giulio Cesare, which was constructed at the same time as the central train station in 1886, is located slightly outside the historic center. It is here that Via Roma begins. The equestrian statue in the middle of the square depicts Vittorio Emanuele II. The monumental entrance to Via Roma was built between 1924 and 1936.
Piazza Magione is named after the La Magione Basilica and its cloister, which forms the central point of the square. Today, it is mainly known as a meeting place for young people.
Piazza Verdi was constructed in the 19th century to create space for the Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele. In popular speech, it is therefore often called Piazza Massimo. To achieve this, the Chiesa delle Stimmate, the Porta Maqueda, parts of the old city wall and some other buildings had to be demolished.
Piazza Vittorio Veneto
Piazza Vittorio Veneto is located at the end of Via Libertà. The monument in this square was originally intended for the 50th anniversary of the liberation tof Palermo, but was later dedicated to the fallen in World War I. Both the square and the statue date back to 1910. The columns surrounding the statue were added later.