Qanat: the cathedral under the city

Back in the Middle Ages, when Palermo was the capital of the Muslim Emirate of Sicily, the Arabs adornedĀ the city with their elegant palaces and castles, but they also built one of the most impressive works of engineering ever accomplished at the time: the Qanat.

Have you ever heard the word qanat? It’s Arab and it’s the name of the majestic underground structures used as aqueduct in the ancient emirates or in the Persian cities, where they were called kaniz. The qanat were built to bring groundwater to remote areas, to use itĀ for irrigation or for other needs.

Three of the original qanat of Palermo can be visited today joining one of the guided tours planned throughout the year. You’ll walk for 1 hour and a half inside a water tunnel to discover what Sicilians call the cathedral under the city, referring to the maze of tunnels leading to big chambers where the water is collected.

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