, the Colosseum
, and amphitheaters. Despite the little knowledge that we have of Cefalù; a coastal town in the province of Palermo, north of Sicily, it attracts millions of tourists from around Sicily, and all over Italy and Europe. Read on to discover what Cefalù has in store for Muslim visitors.
Islam in Cefalù
The Arab takeover fit in well with the people of Cefalù as the teachings bore resemblance to the Jews and Christians already living there. Churches and synagogues survived the reign, although new ones couldn’t be built, and they were treated with respect. Many women married Arab men, and the laws of Islam is said to have influenced the early development of English common law, which then spread to Europe. Palermo
hosted over a hundred mosques and Qur’an schools, and had over a hundred religious leaders of Islam.
Halal Restaurants in Cefalù
With a population of only about 14,000 people, finding a Halal restaurant in Cefalù proves to be a hard task. The closest option for Halal food in Cefalù is in Sant’Ambrogio
- in the province of Palermo.
Even though there may not be any Halal restaurants in Cefalù, it is rich in history – Arab history being one of the many, along with Norman, Byzantine, Spanish and Italian. The Arabs left their mark in terms of culture, laws and architecture in this small region.
Mosques in Cefalù
Muslims built mosques over churches, but when Cefalù was taken over by the Normans, they changed them back. With the exile of Muslims, many of them remaining converted to Christianity, and the Muslim population dwindled until the only trace of their existence was seen in the architecture. Muslim tourists will therefore be unable to find any mosques or prayer facilities in Cefalù.
Since many of the churches were built on the sites of mosques, it had a unique Norman-Arab architecture, and one of the churches was recently handed over to the now-growing Muslim community in Palermo. While this might seem unusual, what is even more peculiar to see is a pillar inside Palermo Cathedral inscribed with the words: God is Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet
Must-sees and Must-dos in Cefalù
The attraction of Cefalù lies in it being a seaside town
– sandy beaches, a picturesque town and old charm being the perfect ingredients to such a holiday. However, this means that the beaches get pretty crowded in the months of July and August.
The beach isn’t the only excitement however. What Cefalù offers most is rich history and architecture – beautiful places to visit and beautiful things to see. Due to its changing history, cathedrals are a major attraction, Duomo
being the main one. Dating back to 1131, its two imposing towers are intimidating from outside, while its Byzantine mosaic interiors leaves one amazed.
If you prefer natural wonders, a climb up the Rocca
is in order. It shouldn’t be attempted in hot weather and is a bit of a steep climb, but it is well worth it. Sights near the top include ruins of the so-called ‘Tempio di Diana’
, reconstructed battlements and breathtaking views.
In the town itself, the Museo Mandralisca
is a delight for women with its sparkling jewels as part of its historic display; the picturesque harbor, alleys and medieval buildings are ones to be admired; and the Saracen wash-house
, and Osterio Magno
are must-sees, with the latter offering a little adventure in exploring it.
Lastly, around Cefalù, the Monti Madonie mountains
treats holiday-makers to skiing in the winter and good hiking in spring and summer.
There may not be as many Muslim-friendly facilities in Cefalù as other places, but there is a lot of history and culture that should not be missed!