Villa Palagonia (Bagheria) - The Villa of Monsters (Villa dei Mostri)

 

Villa Palagonia's wonderful double flight of stairs.  Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Villa Palagonia's wonderful double flight of stairs. The villa is a great example of the Sicilian baroque.

 

 

Hall of mirrors, Villa Palagonia.  Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Hall of mirrors, Villa Palagonia, Bagheria.

The construction of Villa Palagonia - famous for the statues of "monsters" that decorate its garden and its wall - began in 1715. The architect was Tommaso Napoli (and Agatino Daidone), and the building is a fine example of the so called Sicilian baroque.

The grotesque statues were created from 1749 by Francesco Ferdinando II Gravina, Prince of Palagonia.

 

Villa Palagonia, entrance facing Piazza Garibaldi.  Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

The main entrance for tourists is facing Piazza Garibaldi.

 

 

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Monsters on the wall at Villa Palagonia.  Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Three of the monsters on the wall. Villa Palagonia is known all over the world as "The Villa of Monsters" (Villa dei Mostri).

 

 

Villa Palagonia: The Hercules room.  Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad (Bagheria)

Villa Palagonia: The Hercules room.

 

 

 

Timeline

1715

The construction of Villa Palagonia begins. Architect Tommaso Napoli (and Agatino Daidone)

1749

Francesco Ferdinando II Gravina, Prince of Palagonia starts creating the grotesque statues

1787

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visits the villa during his Italian journey. 9 April 1787 he writes: "Our entire day has been taken up with the madness of the Prince of Pallagonia [sic]."

12 April 1787: Goethe sees the Prince of Palagonia in Palermo, who is collecting ransom money for the slaves who have been captured by Barbary pirates (“‘Dies ist der Prinz Pallagonia’, sagte der Händler, ‘welcher von Zeit zu Zeit durch die Stadt geht und für die in der Barbarei gefangenen Sklaven ein Lösegeld zusammenheischt.’”)

1885

Villa Palagonia is bought by private individuals

1950

Article about Villa Palagonia in Life Magazine (8 May, 1950)

 

 

Arco del padreterno (God's Arch), via Palagonia, Bagheria.  Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Arco del padreterno (God's Arch) was once the main entrance to the Palagonia estate. It is located at the end of Via Palagonia.

 

Villa Palagonia

Villa Palagonia (Bagheria, Palermo).  Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Villa Palagonia (Bagheria, Palermo).

Villa Palagonia

Many artists have been inspired by this eccentric villa, and many famous people have visited it. Here is a list of some:

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Alexandre Dumas
  • Michelangelo Antonioni
  • Renato Guttuso
  • Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges
  • André Breton
  • Giovanni Macchia
  • Dominique Fernandez
  • Henry Swinburne
  • Patrick Brydone
  • John Soane, the Count de Borde, Jean-Pierre Houël

 

Villa Palagonia: monsters on the gate.  Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Some of the monsters on the wall that goes around the garden.

 

 

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Villa Palagonia garden. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Relaxing in the garden.

 

 

Relief in the garden wall at Villa Palagonia. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Relief in the garden wall at Villa Palagonia.

 

 

Villa Palagonia. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

In my mouth you can leave your light.

 

 

       

 

 

Villa Palagonia appears in several films:

 

 

Homepage and Facebook page

Villa Palagonia - monsters. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Statues on the wall surrounding Villa Palagonia.

Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wonders of Sicily

 

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Eagle, Villa Palagonia.  Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

The eagle on the roof.

 

 

Villa Palagonia statue

This reclining figure was probably part of the lid on a sarcophagus. See the sarcophagus for the nobleman Francesco Perdicaro (died in 1567) in the Norman church La Magione on the page about Death in Sicily.

 

Madonna, Villa Palagonia.  Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

The Madonna outside the small curch in the garden.

 

Villa Palagonia, chapel.  Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

 

 

 Photo: Kåre Bunlar Jacobsen

Photo: Kåre Bunlar Jacobsen

 

 

The coat of arms on the rear side of Villa Palagonia

The coat of arms, Villa Palagonia. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

The coat of arms on the rear side of the villa.

 

 

 

the Golden Fleece - coat of arms, Villa Palagonia. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Detail of the coat of arms showing the Golden Fleece. In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-haired winged ram, which was held in Colchis. It figures in the tale of the hero Jason and his crew of Argonauts, who set out on a quest for the fleece by order of King Pelias, in order to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus in Thessaly. Through the help of Medea, they acquire the Golden Fleece.

 

 

coat of arms, Villa Palagonia. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Detail of the coat of arms on the rear side of the villa.

 

 

Literature about the Sicilian Baroque and Villa Palagonia

 

 

 

Villa Palagonia, painting in ceiling. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Painting on the ceiling.

 

 

Villa Palagonia. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wonders of Sicily

Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wonders of Sicily

Relief, Villa Palagonia. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wonders of Sicily

 

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CLICK HERE to see more photos!

 

 

 

Villa Palagonia. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wonders of Sicily

One of the many statues on the wall surrounding Villa Palagonia.

 

 

Monster Villa Palagonia. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wonders of Sicily

Statue on the wall.

 

 

Sicily

The "marble" walls in the Hall of Mirrors are actually only painted glass. (Detail.)

 

 

Sicily

Painted glass looking like marble.

 

 

Palermo (main page)

The Abatellis Museum, Palermo

Palermo Cathedral

The Church of the Gesù (Casa professa)

Fontana Pretoria

La Cuba

La Zisa

La Martorana

The Monreale Cathedral

The Monreale Cloister

The Museum of the Inquisition

Norman Palace

Cappella Palatina

Ponte dell’Ammiraglio

Quattro Canti

San Cataldo

San Giovanni dei Lebbrosi

San Giovanni degli Eremiti

Santa Maria della Catena

Villa Palagonia

 

 

 

Sicily in the Movies

  • The Godfather I-III (Francis Ford Coppola)
  • L'avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni)
  • Kaos (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani)
  • Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (International title: Cinema Paradiso), (Giuseppe Tornatore)
  • Baarìa (Giuseppe Tornatore)
  • Malèna (Giuseppe Tornatore)
  • The Star Maker (1995) "L'uomo delle stelle" (Giuseppe Tornatore)
  • La terra trema (Luchino Visconti)
  • The Big Blue (Luc Besson)