Palermo is the regional capital of Sicily, which is the largest and most populated island in the Mediterranean. For centuries various peoples, including the Romans, the Carthaginians, the Byzantines, the Greeks, the Arabs, the Normans and the Spanish, dominated the island. Nowadays the city remains an exotic mix of many cultures. Palermo reflects the diverse history of the region and the city contains many masterpieces from different periods, including Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture as well as examples of modern art.
The historical city centre of Palermo is one of the largest in Europe, full of references to the past. Palermo also features a rich array of vegetation including palm trees, prickly pear trees, banana trees and lemon trees. The world-famous German writer Goethe, who visited the newly opened botanical gardens in April 1787 and described them as “The most beautiful place on earth”, also noticed the large variety of exotic specimens.