To the Quattro Canti

With Massimo theatre at our back we take to right Via Maqueda, which takes its name from the viceroy Berbardino of Cardine, Duke of Maqueda who had it built in 1600. Almost immediately you see on the right  Sant'Agostino Street, a kind of permanent market full of stalls and crowded with people intent onbuying in the numerous shops.

 

This is the main axis of the ancient quarter of “Il Capo” (which means “the head”): it follows a sinuous path as it lies on the bank of an ancient river, "Papireto", nowdays dry. On  St. Augustine Street a few meters from Via Maqueda,lies the St. Augustine’s Church founded in the second half of 1200 and decorated around 1700 by the great Giacomo Serpotta. As we return to our steps and re-enter in Maqueda Street we can admire the old Baroque palaces, many of which are still waiting to be restored, we come finally to the heart of the city of Palermo: Piazza Vigliena.

 

The octagon formed by the intersection of two most important streets of the city, Maqueda Street and Vittorio Emanuele Avenue is better known to Palermitani as the Quattro Canti (Four Corners or Four Cantons). Each Canto represents one of four districts that extend behind it and has a patron saint: Santa Ninfa, Santa Cristina, Santa Oliva and Sant'agata. The square is also know as Sun theatre for its location, in its center, in fact, the sun is visible at any time of day. Continuing on Via maqueda you come to Pretoria Square with the fountain of the same name, also known as the “Square of shame” because of the nudity of its statues. On the right side of the square stands the “Palazzo delle acquile” (Palace of the eagles), the town hall.



Behind the Town Hall, through the small Bellini Square, stands one of the most beautiful monuments of Palermo: The Church of St. Mary of the Admiral, better known as "La Martorana" 
 founded in Norman times, in 1140 approximately, by George of Antioch , Grand Admiral of King Roger. On the same square as well as the Martorana, the churches of Santa Caterina built in 1153 and San Cataldo by the striking-looking oriental domes.

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