New UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sicily

Updated on Jan 18, 2018 by Kathryn Burrington

Blog > New UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sicily

Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale are the latest edition to Sicily's collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

We were delighted to recently hear that a 7th site in Sicily has been added to UNESCO World Heritage list namely, Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale.

“Located on the northern coast of Sicily, Arab-Norman Palermo includes a series of nine civil and religious structures dating from the era of the Norman kingdom of Sicily (1130-1194): two palaces, three churches, a cathedral, a bridge, as well as the cathedrals of Cefalú and Monreale. Collectively, they are an example of a social-cultural syncretism between Western, Islamic and Byzantine cultures on the island which gave rise to new concepts of space, structure and decoration. They also bear testimony to the fruitful coexistence of people of different origins and religions (Muslim, Byzantine, Latin, Jewish, Lombard and French).” UNESCO

Cefalu Cathedral 
Image credit: Captblack76 | Shutterstock



Palermo Cathedral
Image credit: Francesco Ocello | Shutterstock


Golden mosaics in Palatine Chapel
Image credit: Boris Stroujko | Shutterstock

Sicily’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Sicily already had 6 wonderful sites on the list but with so many places of great historic interest and beauty I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the list growing further over the coming years.

So the list of UNESCO World Hertigate Sites in Sicily, in order of being granted World Heritage status, now stands as follows:

1) Valle dei Templi, Agrigento, listed in 1997

The Valley of the Temples holds some of Sicily’s most impressive Greek ruins and possibly the best preserved ancient Greek temples in the world. In particular ‘must see’ Tempio della Concordia, constructed in 430BC, is a remarkably intact temple.

2) Villa Romana del Casale, listed in 1997

The most significant Roman ruins in Sicily, the Villa Romana del Casale in the Casale district, lies at the foot of Mont Mangone. This is a grandiose 4th century Roman villa is home to one of the finest floor mosaics in existence.

3) Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands), listed in 2000

The 7 Aeolian Islands lying off the north coast of Sicily are all of volcanic in origin and are separated from the island of Sicily by a 200 m deep underwater ravine. The study of the islands and the volcanic eruptions that formed them, have proved of great significance in the study of  vulcanology.

4) The Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto, listed in 2002

Eight towns in the South East of Sicily; Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa and Scicli, make up the late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto. These picturesque towns are composed almost entirely of Baroque churches, palaces and houses – an absolute must see for architectural and historical enthusiasts.

5) Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica, listed in 2005

A fascinating and beautiful town, Syracuse has many wonderful attractions but the absolute gem for us is the stunning cathedral on Piazza del Duomo adapted by the Byzantines and later the Normans from a 5th-century BC temple to Minerva. This lovely café-lined, piazza is on the island of Ortgia with its enchanting cobbled streets and many more Baroque churches and piazzas to discover. Be sure to also explore the ancient Greek and Roman part of the city: The Necropolis has over 5,000 tombs, mainly dating back from the 13th to 7th centuries B.C, while the Ancient Syracuse includes Ortigia, the first centre of this city founded by Greeks in the 8th century B.C.

6) Mount Etna, listed in 2013

Mount Etna is one of Sicily’s most famous landmarks. The largest active volcano in Europe and Sicily’s highest peak, Etna dominates the landscape on the North East coast. A tour up to the crater or even the summit is a must for anyone visiting this part of the island.

7) Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale, listed 2015

This recent addition is bound to increase the popularity of the area with tourists and booking your holiday early is recommended. The region is also home to stunning golden beaches, quaint fishing villages, such as Cefalú and of the course, the capital of the island, Palermo, famous for its street food as well as its stunning architecture. Find out more about the hotels and apartments we offer here, Northern Sicily.

What’s missing from the list? We’d love to hear what Sicilian gem you’d add to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Header Image Credit Boris Stroujko | Shutterstock


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