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Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (La Martorana)

2,631 Reviews

Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (La Martorana)

2,631 Reviews
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Piazza Bellini 3, 90133, Palermo, Sicily Italy
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Most Mt. Etna excursions stop at the Silvestri Craters on the lava-covered slopes, but with this exclusive tour you can reach the top of Europe’s highest active volcano with a volcanologist guide. Take a cable car and off-road vehicle to Torre del Filosofo and then continue on foot about a mile (2 kilometers) to the summit craters. Learn about the volcano’s history from your guide and enjoy sweeping views over the coastline.
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Mairwen1 wrote a review Oct 2020
United Kingdom4060 contributions7902 helpful votes
Confusingly, this church is known equally well by 2 different names - Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio (Church of the Admiral) and also the Church of Martorana. This threw me for a little while, especially because there is another church (San Cataldo) right next door and a third (San Caterina) directly across the piazza. That is a lot of churches in the one small space. I felt like we were swimming in churches. It took us a few minutes to sort out which was which and to realise that Martorana and the Admiral churches were one and the same. It is a curious looking church with a concave front, a flat roofline, a series of columns on the façade, some Norman looking arches and an Islamic-style bell tower. It’s quite a mix of styles. Some mosaics have Greek language yet there are Arabic messages on some columns. This blend of Byzantine, Christian and Norman styles and influences pretty much reflects Sicily’s interesting history. Once we sorted out the mystery of the names we figured out that the ‘Admiral’ in question was George of Antioch who built the church around 900 years ago. He had a reputation as the greatest admiral in the navy and was a devout man. Such was his devotion, he oversaw the construction himself, bringing specialist mosaic craftsman from Constantinople to Palermo to decorate it with stunning Byzantine mosaics, one of which still shows him praying to the Virgin Mary. He and his wife were interred inside. The Martorana name comes from Eloisa Martorana, who founded a nearby Benedictine convent in 1194 which later took over the church. It was here that the nuns invented those little fruit shaped marzipans - frutta di Martorana. Mystery solved. Two tips are worth mentioning: i) DISCOUNT TICKET - the Circuito del Sacro ticket gives you a discount off the entry price for Martorana and a dozen or so other churches. I didn't know about it until the third church when when the person at the desk kindly mentioned it but you can easily get it by asking for it at the first church you visit. ii) CLOSING TIMES - the church is closed for a chunk of time in the middle of the day (between 1 – 3:30pm). This caught us out and in hindsight I wish we’d planned around this a little better because it’s quite common for things to be shut at this time.
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Date of experience: February 2020
10 Helpful votes
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Jazzumbo wrote a review Oct 2020
Campulung, Romania1307 contributions1354 helpful votes
Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio (Church of the Admiral) was built about 900 years ago by Muslim constructors for an Orthodox Christian admiral – George of Antioch, who paid mosaic crafters from Constantinople to come to Palermo and decorate it with stunning Byzantine mosaics. One of the mosaics depicts George of Antioch praying to Virgin Mary, while another one shows the Norman King Roger of Sicily receiving the power and crown directly from Jesus. After the death of the admiral, the church became Catholic and starting from XVI century went under several transformations and restorations. Currently, some of the Byzantine mosaics, displaying messages in Greek language, are still visible near the Catholic frescoes painted in XVIII century, while the high altar is Baroque. Since George of Antioch was fluently speaking Arabic, there are also some Arabic inscriptions on two of the columns, so the mixture of styles and influences in this church is really mind-blowing.
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Date of experience: October 2020
12 Helpful votes
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Ana L wrote a review Oct 2020
Navan, Ireland2682 contributions1086 helpful votes
Unfortunately was closed when we where there. The schedule has changed due to Covid-19. The outside is very beautiful, but we could not admire the interior :(
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Date of experience: August 2020
1 Helpful vote
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Marjolein A wrote a review Sep 2020
Rotterdam, The Netherlands1366 contributions295 helpful votes
Small church which you pass on the pedestrian route. However cute interior not that noticeable. Wouldn’t spring for the 2,50 again
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Date of experience: September 2020
2 Helpful votes
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RMVVN wrote a review Aug 2020
Rotterdam, The Netherlands47 contributions25 helpful votes
We thought the visit to the church was a bit overpriced. Very nice from the outside, the inside is old and not too impressive
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Date of experience: August 2020
1 Helpful vote
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