The Castle is part of the Arab-Norman Palermo route and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale UNESCO World Heritage.
The construction of this sollatium (place of pleasure) was undertaken by King William I in the last years of the life and completed by his son William II. It can therefore be dated to between 1165 and 1167. Its name derives from the Arabic Al-Aziz, meaning splendid, and still today it is in fact one of the most magnificent Arab-Norman civil buildings. According to the testimony of the historian Romualdo of Salerno, the king built the palace in the Genoardo park and surrounded it with magnificent fruit trees and beautiful gardens that made it very pleasant, with various waterways and large fish tanks.
Over the years, the Zisa has undergone restorations and renovations that have not always been beneficial, and it has only recently been returned to public use – as far as possible while maintaining its integrity. The castle has in fact been transformed into a museum of Islam and features interesting testimonies of the Arab world in Sicily. In addition, since efforts were to respect the original structure of the building as much as possible made during the restoration, the visit inside it allows you to learn what the architecture of the medieval Islamic palaces was like. Of particular interest is the system for providing ventilation and cooling for the rooms, and the so-called Sala della Fontana is especially fascinating thanks to its mosaics.
Now let’s set out to discover the other castles of this fascinating corner of Sicily!