The Inquisition was put in force in Sicily from about 1600 to 1780 as a means for the Roman Catholic church to stifle the aristocracy and control the populace. Accused were held in this palace, built in 1307 for the powerful Chiaramonte family, when it was headquarters of the Aragonese/Spanish viceroys of Sicily. The lower floors housed prisoners from all levels of society in miniscule cagelike cells that were left untouched through the centuries, preserving a wealth of graffiti: hearts, caricatures, maps, initials, and verse inscribed by the hapless souls who were left here to rot or, worse, tortured and hung. An antidote to all this misery is a bright gallery that houses the exuberant Le Vucciria, a scene of the nearby market saturated with color and realism, by Palermitano painter Renato Guttuso (1912–1987). Even more refreshing are views of the sea and the old city from the top-floor Sala Magna, with an elaborately painted ceiling that depicts scenes from the Bible and mythology. You can only visit on guided tours, offered in English.