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The old cloister

The old cloister

The old cloister (about 250 sq. m), pride and joy of the Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa.

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The conservatory recreates the fin de siecle sensibilitythat inspiredmuch of the Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa.

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The beginning...

foto linizio1At the start of 2005, a major project began to take form. The idea was to merge three adjacent buildings in the historical centre of Palermo into one large hotel structure. 

The central part of the structure used to be the convent and the large church of Mercedarian Fathers, a monastic order that enjoyed great fame and prestige in Palermo at the end of the 16th century. In that period, the European powers made Palermo into a Pearl Harbour of Christianity united in the war against the Turks.
In this context, the Mercedarian Fathers oversaw exchanges of prisoners between the opposing sides, at no small risk to themselves. After Lepanto (1571), there was a general sigh of relief: the enormous financial resources that had poured into the town were for the most part redirected to colossal projects of urban renewal. It was at this time that the monks left their modest abode near the harbour, to acquire the site, which is now the Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa. Both the cloister, characterised by daringly high porticos, and the old convent door have remained practically unchanged. Above the latter is the effigy that the Mercedarians chose as symbol of their mission: a Pelican feeding its baby, an image that still evokes memories of the Christian spiritual tradition. Finally, the monumental staircase, although partially restored over the course of the centuries, still boasts in most of its steps the now unobtainable red marble from the nearby Piana degli Albanesi.

foto linizio2During the early 18th century, the rising prestige of the Monks made them also gain the adjacent building of the princes of the Cattolica Briuccia family. Three bridges about twenty metres long spanned the space between the two buildings. 
They were supported by elegant columns of grey Billiemi marble. These bridges are still well known in Palermo, as the "Passetti" of Palazzo Briuccia and they also form part of the courtyard, which leads to the famous monumental staircase of Palazzo Briuccia, a masterpiece of Baroque art attributed to the architect Giacomo Amato. During the early 1800s, the prestige of the order of Discalced Mercedarians declined, resulting with the monks leaving the town before the second fall of the Kingdom of Sicily in 1860.

Nella prima metà del ‘700, l’accresciuto prestigio dei Monaci portò loro in dote l’attiguo palazzo dei principi Cattolica Briuccia. La distanza fra i due edifici, fu colmata mediante tre ponti in pietra lunghi una ventina di metri e sorretti ognuno, da eleganti colonne di grigio marmo “Billiemi”. I ponticelli sono ancora oggi famosi a Palermo, come i “Passetti” di palazzo Briuccia. Questi concorrono a formare l’ampio cortile porticato, che conduce al celebre scalone monumentale di Palazzo Briuccia. Capolavoro dell’arte barocca, attribuito all’architetto Giacomo Amato. Dopo i fasti dei primi due secoli, dall’ ‘800 in poi l’ordine dei Mercedari Scalzi visse un ridimensionamento della sua importanza a Palermo. Tanto che, la seconda caduta del Regno di Sicilia del 1860, trovò i monaci già lontano dalla città.

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