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The Monsters of Villa Palagonia

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Bagheria Impressions

Without a doubt, the top touristic sight in the town of Bagheria is Villa Palagonia. A architectural masterpiece and ode to eccentricity, this building is most famous for its flock of “monsters”: an army of gargoyles who adorn the garden walls.


The house was built in 1715, and immediately hailed as an architectural achievement, and one of the finest works of Sicilian Baroque on the island. But the Villa didn’t acquire the strange touch which made it world-famous until 1749, when the deranged Prince of Palagonia ordered a set of gargoyles to line its garden walls. Legions of dragons, soldiers, hunchbacks and freaks of nature look down on visitors from atop stony perches. According to legend, the most freakish faces are meant to caricature the many lovers of the prince’s promiscuous wife.

Inside, the villa is less eccentric but equally impressive. Paintings of the trials of Hercules line an oval-shaped vestibule, and you can step inside a room intriguingly named The Hall of Mirrors. This was the ballroom, and its marble walls are decorated with colorful birds and portraits of the various lords of Europe.

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November 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm
  • November 26, 2011 at 3:45 pmrebekah

    stunning pictures!  nice documentation of history.

  • December 1, 2011 at 11:42 amLesley Peterson

    I loved Villa Palagonia!  Great photos, you caught a lot of details I missed…

  • September 22, 2013 at 12:43 amJulia Russo

    My grandparents were custodians at the villa.  I lived there for 13 yrs and have seen every angle of it, played  on the stairs and sat on those marble seats around the villa. I remember I was always afraid at night, but then I was very young, and I have lots of good memories. I have 2 old sconces that my dad gave me, unfortunately he painted over them, he told me they where from the villa. One is broken and reglued  y don’t know if they are worth anything and if they are the real deal.

    • October 6, 2013 at 10:12 pmMike Powell

      What an enchanting place this must have been, as a child! Thanks for sharing your memories 🙂

  • April 25, 2015 at 11:46 amDiana

    We just returned from Sicily. Seeing this villa was a high point. Your images are wonderful. Thank you.

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