The actual name of the square is Piazza Vigliena, after the viceroy who commissioned it, although locals refer to it as Quattro Canti. Via Maqueda dates from the 1580s, when it converged with the ancient Via Càssaro, now called Vittorio Emanuele. The square is also known as Theater of the Sun, because at any given time of day, the sun will shine on one of the four corners. Here was the starting point of each of the historical neighborhoods of Old Palermo.
Each of the corners is decorated with a niche in three tiers. The first tier of each niche contains a fountain and a statue representing one of the four seasons. The second tier of each niche displays a statue of one of the Spanish Habsburg kings, while the third tier of each niche is a statue of the patron saint of each mandamento: Starting from the southeast mandamento of the Albergheria and in clockwise order, they are Cristina, Ninfa, Oliva, and Agata.
Unfortunately, Quattro Canti is no longer the meeting place of Palermitani as it was in the old days. Instead of creamy white facades, think soot- blackened gray -- even if they are cleaned off from time to time. And be careful when admiring the former beauty of the place, or you might be run down by a king of the road on a speeding Vespa.