Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio

The church of Santa Maria dell’ Ammiraglio , commonly known as Martorana, is another ornate delight to be found overlooking Piazza Bellini.


It’s a golden, glittering jewel that shimmers with a multitude of religious mosaics.

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The church is a mix of different cultural styles, all culminating in a glittering array of pattern and texture that bombards the senses.


The church was founded in 1143 by George of Antioch, the admiral of the Norman King Roger. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it became known as Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio – St. Mary of the Admiral.


The church’s more common name comes from Eloisa Martorana, who founded a nearby Benedictine convent in 1194.


The nuns of the Martorana convent were famous for their moulded marzipan, which they made in the form of various fruits.

Although the convent no longer exists, frutta di Martorana are still one of Palermo’s most famous and distinctive foodstuffs and can be found in every shop window.

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The glittering Norman-Byzantine mosaics date from c.1150 and cover the interior, including on and around the columns that hold up the main cupola.


Even after hundreds of years the colours still remain vivid and eye poppingly gorgeous. If you get a chance make sure to pop in and enjoy the shiny spectacle.

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Published by collymarples

World traveller, proud auntie, bit of a liability.

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