Palermo – Day 3 – Part 1 – Around the Church of Saint Sebastian

While up on our rooftop terrace, we had noticed a building behind ours, which was decorated with carved busts of people.  This piqued our interest, and so we headed out to see just what the structure was, making it our first destination on another sunny Sicilian day.

As it turned out, the building we had noticed earlier was the home of the Instituto Cervantes, on Via Argentina, #33.  This is the official center of the Spanish State for the promotion and teaching of the Spanish language.  It is the largest institution in the world dedicated to spreading Spanish and Latin American culture and language.  The center was housed in the Chiesa di Sant’Eulalia dei Catalani, and, at times, it hosts art exhibitions (one of which was taking place during our visit), as well as film screenings and lectures.  Admission is free, or at least it was on the day we visited.  The busts on the front of the building are of Spanish sovereigns, while the coat of arms over the entrance way is that of the Kingdom of Spain.  The building itself dates from 1630.

As we walked the streets, we passed an icon on the facade of a building that had a poem underneath, which I found very touching.  It is pictured below.  The poem is a simple one, speaking of the wind that blows through the city.  The poem talks about how this wind puts the elderly to sleep, while at the same time, waking the children, and how it swells the sails of boats, and tears the curtains in the windows of homes.  Most importantly, it describes how the wind, like the passage of time, begins to take away our memories of the city, until it is changed and becomes even more beautiful than it was, when we first experienced it.

The  former Real Fonderia alla Cala, also known as the Fonderia Oretea,  as well as the Casa del Tarzanà, dates from 1601.   It functioned as a metallurgical industrial plant, which was owned, at the time, by the shipowner and entrepreneur, Vincenzo Florio.  The building later functioned as barracks, until a bombing in 1943 destroyed most of it.  Today, it hosts events and exhibitions.

The Chiesa di San Sebastiano dates from 1516, and was built as an expression of gratitude to the saint, for having saved the city from an epidemic of the plague.  The building was used as a warehouse for grain, during World War I.  Damaged by bombings in World War II, it was restored in 1949, but did not reopen to the public again until 2006.

At Via Giovanni Meli, #7, you will find the Palermo office of INCA CGIL, a union headquarters.


Next up: We visit a few of the city’s beautiful oratories!


Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations that may appear.  If you have enjoyed this post, please, check out our archives for more posts from Palermo, as well as other Italian destinations.  Grazie!


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