History of Palermo







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History of Palermo                                        (Back to Palermo main information page)  

Originally a Phoenician, then a Carthaginian colony, Palermo was long considered a prize worth capturing. Named Panormus (All Harbour), under Saracen and Norman rule in the ninth to twelfth centuries Palermo became the greatest city in Europe, famed for the wealth of its court and for a centre of learning.

It first settlement were however of prehistoric origins and is now worth as one of the most ancient sites of Sicily with painting being discovered in the grottoes of Addaura in 1953.

The origins of the city population seem to have been the one of the Matabei from Jordan.

According to official historic document, the Phoenician established a merchant colony in around 734 B.C, while the Greeks colonized Sicily between the VII and VIII century B.C.

In later time, during the Punic Wars, Palermo conquered by the Carthaginians until the Roman?s rule which gave the city the name of Panourmus.

During this time the city become a flourishing legacy of the Roman Empire providing well known supply for Rome.

Later, the city was under the Byzantines until year 831 when the Arabs captured Palermo and made it the capital of Sicily becoming one of the most important Islamic cities in the Mediterranean world. During this period, Palermo was one of the greatest cities in Europe, with flourishing trade, culture and education.

The Normans entered the city in 1072 ending the Arab rule.

The Normans restored Christianity as the official religion and declared Palermo to be the capital of the island. A hint of cultural cosmopolitanism was although retained and Christianity lived along with Muslims and Jewish.

The wedding between Henry VI and Norman Constance of Hauteville signed the end of the Normans in Sicily which from then was ruled by the German house of Swabia later becoming part of the Holy Roman Empire

Then, Sicily came under the house of the Anjou who transferred the capital to Naples, then the Aragons, under which the Jews were expelled and a state of Holy inquisition established. In 1479 the city was part of the kingdom of Spain.

Due to unsocial unrest mainly for the imposition of heavy taxes, the barons felt free to dominate the city.

After a short hand over to the Savoia, in 1734 the city was confirmed a Bourbon possession with the proclamation of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Although there were some popular insurrections, the Bourbons ruled until Giuseppe Garibaldi and Sicily?s annexation to the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

Onwards, Palermo history followed that of Italy and most graceful the one of the Mafia which from a rural phenomena become an international criminal organization also thanks to its links with the political agenda. Not to be forgotten the Italian civil servant that lost their life in the struggle against the mafia, above all in Palermo, Generale Carlo Dalla Chiesa with his wife, Regional president Piersanti Pattarella, priest Don Giuliani, and the magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino together with their police official?s escort.



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