Only the shell of the former Moorish palace remains, yet an aura of Arabian Nights still lingers about the place. With a little imagination you can conjure up dancers who entertained the various sultans centuries ago.

Moorish craftsmen started the palace in 1166 under William I; it was finished in 1175 for his son, William II. La Zisa (from the Arabic "al-aziz," meaning "the splendid") was the major building in a royal park that also embraced La Cuba. This beautifully landscaped park was called "Genoard," meaning "terrestrial paradise," and was celebrated throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. The park was fenced in so that wild animals could roam about. Unfortunately, by the 16th century, the palace's heyday was all but a memory, and it was used as a depository for objects contaminated by the plague. When the north wing of the building collapsed in 1971, the local government finally decided to intervene. It was fully restored in 1992.

The structure you see today is high and compact. Two square towers flank the short sides of the castle. With its richness long stripped away, the interior is no longer remarkable, but you can still get some impression of the former sultan's palace. On the ground floor as you enter is the Fountain Hall, built on a cross plan and still embellished with a strip of mosaics. On the second floor is the Museum of Islamic Art, which houses a good collection of Arabic art and artifacts.