Palermo, Italy, the capital, largest city, and one of the principal ports of Sicily. It lies on the island's northern coast, 200 miles (320 km) south of Naples. Palermo has shipbuilding, food-processing, and other manufacturing industries but is largely a trade and export center. Major exports include lemons and oranges from the rich plain bordering the Bay of Palermo. In the city are the University of Palermo, a fine-arts academy, music conservatory, national library, and national museum. Several 12th-century Norman churches here show a mixed Islamic and Byzantine influence. Most noted is the Capella Palatina, with its mosaics and carved ceiling, in the Royal Palace. Muslim style is evident in the 12th-century Palermo Cathedral and Norman castle of La Zisa, and the 15th-century Archbishop's Palace.
The city was once a Phoenician colony and was called Panormus (“All-haven,” for its harbors) in classical times. Carthage, Rome, and the Byzantine Empire held it before the Muslim period, 831–1072 A.D. Among Islam's richest cities, Palermo handled much trade between Europe and Africa. Growth continued under the Normans. They made Palermo capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In 1282 the people rebelled against French rule in a massacre of Frenchmen that spread over Sicily and was named the Sicilian Vespers (because it began at the evening prayer hour). Palermo became part of newly formed Italy in 1861.