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Sicily’s capital, Palermo, was once the greatest city in Europe. Its charms have tempted Mediterranean conquerors like the Greeks, Romans, Vandals, A>From the 9th to 12th centuries it was famed for its wealth and as a center of learning.

In the 12th century Roger II built the Royal Palace,and today its chapel remains the most magnificent example of medieval art in Palermo. Its grandeur impressed General George S. Patton so much that in 1943 he installed his headquarters in the Royal Palace.

It's the rebuilding of the 16th and 17th centuries that shaped the city as you see it today – the bustling capital city of modern Sicily. The city center is sprawling, with pockets of medieval alleys, 19th century piazzas, 20th century bomb sites and contemporary office blocks all conspiring to confuse the visitor.

The essential sights are all pretty centrally located, however.

There are a number of Norman and Baroque churches of note. The 12th-century Palazzo dei Normanni, once the seat of the Kings of Sicily, houses the Cappella Palatina, a beautiful example of Arab-Norman-Byzantine style.

Quattro Canti, also known as Piazza Vigliena, is a Baroque square that is actually an octagon, with elegant Baroque fountains rising as high as the second floor.

There are also three magnificent museums in Palermo with inspiring collections of art, archeology and ethnography.