The Arabs built the Royal Palace in Palermo over the ruins of a Roman fort in the 11th century.
In the following century was enlarged
and became the Royal Palace of the Norman King Roger II,
with Arabs architects and craftsman building towers and pavilions for the King and his retinue.
Not much is left of the Norman age,
partly because the Palace was abandoned when
Frederick the II left his Palermo’s court.
The Spanish viceroys preferred to use the more modern Palazzo Steri di Chiaramonte.
The present-day appearance of the Palace,
now the seat of the Sicilian Regional Assembly,
dates back to alterations made in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The entrance is in Piazza Indipendenza.
After a short walk uphill, you enter the Maqueda courtyard,
built in 1600 with three rows of arcades and a large staircase leading to the first floor
and the Cappella Palatina,
one of the few remaining parts from the original Norman period.
The royal apartments , which now house the Sicilian Parliament,
are on the secon floor.
The most interesting room is the Sala di Re Ruggero,
the walls and arches are covered with 12th-century mosaics
with animals and plants motif
in a naturalistic vein that probably reveals a Persian influence:
centaurs, leopards, lions, deer and peacocks.
The vault has geometric motifs and medallions with owls, deer, centaurs and lions.
The tour ends with the Chinese Room, frescoed by Giovanni and Salvatore Patricolo,
and the Sala Gialla , with tempera decoration on the vaults.