Editors' Picks

Chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (La Martorana)

Piazza Bellini, 6, 90133 Palermo, Italy

Another one of Palermo's Byzantine extravaganzas, this centrally located church was originally conceived as a mosque. The gilded mosaics, created by Greek craftsmen in the 12th century, are devastatingly beautiful, making the fact that half the church was turned in a Baroque showpiece in the 15th century even more criminal (many of the original mosaics were destroyed in the process).

Before entering the church, spend some time taking in Piazza Bellini as a whole: the churches and palazzi lining it hint at Palermo's complex history: the Chiesa Capitolare (on the right) has pink bijou domes that hail back to Arab-Norman times, while the Teatro Bellini is a crumbling but beautiful example of late 19th-century architecture.

Written by Simone Girner

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