Visiting the castle of La Zisa in Palermo on our first day in Sicily provided an initial glimpse of the immense amount of cultural integration we would witness on this trip. La Zisa was a palace initially built for the Norman kings of Sicily and was designed as a summer hunting resort for these rulers. However, the architecture of the castle shows a unique blend of various influences. The central hall (seen in the picture above), which contains an elaborate fountain that connects to the surrounding gardens, epitomizes this blend of artistic movements. The mosaics and the marble Corinthian columns that frame the fountain are distinctly Classical. However, the pattern of sculpted niches on the roof as well as the geometric borders lining the walls demonstrate the presence of Islamic influence. Finally, the elaborate, gold mosaics above the fountain seem more Byzantine in character and composition. The many styles encompassed in this one architectural entity further exhibit how control over Sicily often shifted between many competing powers, who all managed to leave their mark on the island.