The area has been under numerous dominators over the centuries, including Roman, Carthaginian, Byzantine, Greek, Arab, Norman, Swabian and Spanish masters. Due to this past, to the cultural exchange that for millennia has taken place in the area, the city is still an exotic mixture of many cultures. Many of the monuments still exist giving the city somewhat unique appearance.
The city of Palermo, including the province of Palermo, has around 1,300,000 inhabitants and has about 200 Km of coastline. The old town of Palermo is one of the largest in Europe, full of references to the past.
Palermo reflects the diverse history of the region in that the city contains many masterpieces from different periods, including romanesque, gothic, renaissance and baroque architecture as well as examples of modern art.
The city also hosts it's rich vegetation of palm trees, prickly pears, bananas, lemon trees and so on. The abundance of exotic species was also noticed by the world-famous German writer Goethe who in April 1787 visited the newly opened botanical gardens, describing them as "the most beautiful place on earth".