The church and the abbey were constructed at the end of the XII century after the Norman conquest by Roberto il Guiscardo. The abbey was run by cloistered basilean nuns. Queen Costanza d’Altavilla and the patron of Palermo S. Rosalia were part of this group and therefore gave it more prestige because they were very important characters within Palermo. The relationship between the Santuzza and the monastery is marked by a plaque (written in both Greek and Latin) commemorating when an ancient scroll was found stating that S. Rosalia was a basilean nun. The old Norman church was completely rebuilt in 1528. The abbey was transformed many times to suit changing architectural styles, until it was completely destroyed in 1943 by bombing. Only one part of the cloister was saved.
In 1682, the nuns wanted to make the church bigger and they entrusted the architect Paolo Amato with the job. Paolo Amato designed the building with a circular floor and it is the only example of this in Palermo. The inside is decorated with multicultural marble, plaster and fresco. The vault is decorated with a fresco by the Sicilian painter Vito d’Anna, which was seriously damaged by bombing during the Second World War. During the war-raid other marble decorations were destroyed but the 1762 frescoes by D’Anna in the vestibule were saved.
The last change that the Church suffered was in 1959 when the architect Franco Minissi re-adapted the church and the auditorium. Minissi changed the outlook of the church so it was traversal rather than longitudinal.
Everyday 9.30-12.30 15.00-18.00
Closed 25th December and 15th August
24 December 10:00 – 14:00
31 December 10:00 – 14:00
01 January 14:00 – 18:00
Corso Vittorio Emanuele 395 – Palermo
Full ticket: 2.50
Reduced ticket: 1.50
Reduction for groups of 10 and for Circuito del Sacro ticket holders
Special thanks to Laura Williams for her translation