The Specola (old word meaning 'observatory'), ancient observatory of Palermo, was founded in 1790-91, converting the old tower of Santa Ninfa, a part of the Norman Royal Palace. Its activity as a research center went on for two centuries with a period of interruption after World War II, and resumed work thanks to the efforts of Giuseppe Vaiana, to whom the observatory is now dedicated. The building hosts an interesting astronomical museum with ancient scientific instruments on display, featuring the collection formerly owned by the prince Giulio Tomasi of Lampedusa. The best of the exhibition is Ramsden’s Altazimutal Circle, dating back to 1787-9, used by Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801 to discover the first asteroid, Cerere Fernandea. This precious instrument is set in its original position, known as the “Circular Room” designed by architect Venanzio Marvuglia. Another point of interest is the “Meridian Room,” whose beautiful marquetries were designed by the famous architect Giovan Battista Basile. The mobile instruments are preserved in their original cases, designed by the French architect Leon Dufourny, whereas the “Refractor Room” hosts the 19th-century Mertz telescope. It is also possible to reserve a night visit, including sky observations from the dome and from the balcony, which offers by day a charming view of the town’s center.
- Open Hours: Monday to Friday from 09:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Attractions & Landmarks, Science & Technology
- Nearest Train: Metro A - Orleans (Piazza Indipendenza)