Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Discovering Palermo: The historical market "Ballarò"

The historical markets of Palermo are a "must-see" for tourist routes proposed to visitors. visiting these markets throw you into an unknown and timeless dimension; the products, the shouts of sellers, the colors and fragrances are still the same for centuries.
The oldest market of Palermo is the Ballarò in the popular district "Albergheria". The origins of this market can be traced back even to the tenth century at the time of Arab domination in Sicily. Balhara was the name of a village of Arab traders who used to sell spices and precious goods at the market. That was the Suq Al-Balhara, converted from Palermo in Ballarò.
Unlike other ancient city markets, Ballarò is still very popular in Palermo and still very alive in spite of the spread of shopping malls.

Among the Ballarò stalls and shops you can buy meat and fresh fish, fruit and vegetables from the Sicilian countryside, cheese and candies.
According to many Palermitans, there is an excellent relationship between market prices and the quality of the goods that you can buy.
Visiting the Ballarò it is possible to discover some treasures of rare architectural beauty as the Chiesa del Carmine Maggiore, dating back to 1600, with its splendid dome covered with colorful tiles. The church is one of the emblems of the Sicilian Baroque style, with elaborate stucco work on the external facade.
Inside the church there are important sacred works of art placed in various chapels along the aisles. Many of them were made by masters Serpotta.
Other treasures are the silver statue of the Madonna del Carmine, exposed only during the month of July to celebrate the feast of the Virgin, and the magnificent wooden choir in the apse of the church.
The many alleys within the intricate web of Ballaro inspired Luigi Natoli and the market is the setting of the famous novel "The Beati Paoli".

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