Thursday, August 11, 2011

Quattro Canti

I Quattro Canti are a set of four architectural elevations (prospetti) located in the Piazza Vigliena: it also serves as an intersection for Via Maqueda and Il Corso Vittorio Emanuele (formerly known as Il Cassaro).

Palermo can be a difficult city to get your bearings, but you can mitigate this by using the Quattro Canti as a reference point as you move around the centro storico of the city.

The four corners of the square contains these architecturally facades, each of which are divided into three levels. The square is a perfect octagonal - the four architectural facades and the four outlets created by the criss-cross of the two streets just mentioned. The four architectural fronts serves as boundaries for the various quartieri in Palermo (indicated in parentheses below), all of which converge at this piazza which also serves as an intersection. The seasons, which occupy the first level, are done in the Doric style, the sovereigns done in the Ionic style, while the city's saints (which occupy the high level on the structures) are not flanked by any columns and sit atop the structures, almost as if watching over the city.

The various levels contain statuary which represents the seasons, sovreigns and saints of Palermo.

south (Albergheria): spring, Carlo V, Cristina
west (Seralcadio / Capo): summer, Philip II, Ninfa (pictured)
north (La Loggia): autumn, Philip IV, Oliva
east (Kalsa): winter, Philip III, Agata

The square is difficult to photograph, especially during the day when the light is best because of the immense pedestrian and vehicle traffic that remains in the square for a great part of the day.  It is immensely difficult to get enough time to snap some unobstructed photos of these monuments.  You might have luck on Saturday and Sunday mornings, when the crowds are few, or, as is often the case, when the city might close several of the main thoroughfares to traffic to create temporary pedestrian zones.

The Quattro Canti are a great way to orientate yourself when you're in the city and should be easy to locate on any map of the city!

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