Climbing the Palermo Cathedral

rooftop of the Palermo Cathedral

I truly believe that Palermo is one of the most underrated cities in Italy. It has a mishmash of architectural styles, plenty of crumbling corners, sunburnt Sicilian colors, and a complicated but intriguing history. And the Palermo Cathedral manages to package all of this into one.

The Palermo Cathedral was built in 1185, which is impressive enough on its own, but it was actually built on top of an earlier church which was itself built on the site of an even earlier mosque.

This is where the Norman kings were crowned, and it still has a treasury filled with jewelry and precious church artifacts.

If you head down to the crypt (which requires a paid ticket), you can see the royal tombs.

While it is absolutely worth exploring inside, the best way to experience the Palermo Cathedral is to pay the small fee to climb to the rooftop.

climb the Palermo Cathedral

After scaling the steps, you can creep along a narrow catwalk that runs the length of the roof and offers some lovely aerial views of the cattedrale itself, as well as of the city of Palermo more broadly.

Climb Palermo Cathedral roof

Few people seem to know to climb the rooftop of the cathedral, which means you can have the vistas all to yourself.

The walkway is narrow but there are railings up and it is all very secure.

Cattedrale di Palermo

But I am not going to lie – even though I did it and I loved it, I definitely felt my pulse race a bit when I looked over the sides. Climbing the Palermo Cathedral might not really sit well with anyone who is scared of heights.

rooftop of the Palermo Cathedral

The Palermo Cathedral is one of the major landmarks in the Sicilian city but even though it is a tourist destination – keep in mind that it is first and foremost a working church so you must dress appropriately with knees and shoulders covered.

I highly recommend a stop here before continuing on to the markets, street food, or even the beaches like Mondello that make Palermo one of my favorite stops!

Ready to go? Here are the best hotels in the city.

6 thoughts on “Climbing the Palermo Cathedral

  1. ELEONORA says:

    I totally loved your article about Palermo. I am born and I’ve been living in there my entire life.
    Unfortunately after I got my degree one year ago, I had to move to London to find a job and do some experience in order to come back one day and have more possibilities to find a good job in my beloved land.
    I totally agree with you when you say that Palermo is probably one of the most underrated cities in Italy, when it should actually be one of the most appreciated and seen all over Italy. I am so proud of my city, so proud of its history and I have the huge hope and wish that one day people is going to see in it all the beauty that I see every time I walk through its roads and buildings.
    Thank you for this little but important eulogy.

  2. Matthew Iannacco says:

    My wife and I were in Sicily last October, and we loved everything about Sicily, from the big city of Palermo, to the mountain town of Erice, over to the island off of Siracusa called ortigia, and then Taromina, The people were just wonderful, the food was spectacular, the fish was as fresh as it could be, and I loved the Arincini, the Street food in Palermo was spectacular the fresh cannolis were excellent and we loved everything about Sicily we can’t wait to go back it’s a beautiful island

  3. Robert Schrader says:

    This is a nice article, but it does not explain the most important piece of information, which is where you go to begin your climb? There is no obvious ticketing or reception area inside the cathedral, where there is usually an active mass going on. I spoke to several parishioners and even priests inside, and none were even aware that you could climb to the rooftop.

    I guess some of your readers have gotten lucky and found it on their own, but a little bit more detail would be helpful.

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