Altofonte (Park) Palermo

Park - Palace- Chapel and Solatium del Biviere


    Roger II’s park at Altofonte is part of the vast system of adjoining parks which the Norman kings of Sicily created for hunting and leisure activities, combining the Anglo-Norman love of hunting with the Arab-Byzantine penchant for palaces and pavilions in which to relax and take refuge from the summer heat. This was the second such complex (the first was Fawara) created during the Norman period. The palace consists of a number of courtyards surrounded by rooms accessed via porticos, as in contemporary Islamic architecture. On the eastern perimeter there is also a small chapel. Without side aisles, it has a royal gallery and is capped by a spherical vault rising on a tall cylindrical drum above the transept. The vast hunting park was fenced in and also included a small pavilion serving an artificial fishing and boating lake (see Fawara). The lake was formed by damming a narrow valley, which is still known as the valley of the "biviere" (fish nursery). Both palace and fishing lake featured fountains and other hydraulic works, evidencing the advanced development of Islamic engineering techniques. The photographs show the north-west elevation and chapel, one of the surviving arches of the north portico, and a decorative (Fatimite?) disk with two-colour inlay decoration.

Vittorio Noto

L. Anastasi, "L'arte nel Parco reale normanno di Palermo", Palermo, 1935
S. Braida  Santamauro, "il palazzo ruggeriano di Altofonte",
Palladio n.2 Roma, 1973
V. Noto, " Les palais et les jardins siciliens des rois normands", in:
"Trésor romans d'Italie du Sud et de Sicile", Toulouse-Caen ,1995
V. Noto, " Il Palazzo reale di Altofonte nella tipologia degli edifici ruggeriani", in : Altofonte parco dei Normanni",  Altofonte ,1995  ( V. anche le schede di Fawara, della Zisa e della Cuba)

Melo Minnella Palermo