Palazzo Steri (Chiaramonte), at Piazza Marina, was the seat of the Inquisition in Palermo from 1605-1782. Now owned by the university, it has recently opened its doors to tourists. For 5 euro I got a personal guided tour by a student (in Italian, but she said they do English too). We started in the prison in the building next door, the Carcere dei Penitenziati. Here you can see the cells, the walls of which are almost totally covered by drawings and poems done by the prisoners (accused of heresy or witchcraft), some of which referred to what they went through at the hands of the inquisitors.There are no gruesome instruments of torture on display as after the Inquisition was abolished they destroyed all the equipment and records of both the inquisitors and prisoners to avoid any attempts at vengeance. But the drawings and poems themselves are very powerful. There were also a couple of crude maps of Sicily. The only piece of furniture was a copy of the chair that the priest Diego La Matina was tied to for months of torture before being burned at the stake. After that we went into Palazzo Chiaramonte itself and saw other rooms before passing through a room with Guttuso's masterpiece 'La Vucciria' on display. Seemed a strange place to stick a work of art but I was delighted to see it. A fascinating though rather grim addition to the tourist sights of Palermo.
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