Monreale Cathedral
the chystro

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Monreale, together with Cefalù, represents an example of Church-Cathedrals with an annexed convent cloister , rare in Europe.In the Middle Ages, it became the beating heart of monastic life by combining spiritual and functional aspects, while at the same time fulfilling a liturgical function for the processional ceremonies held in the adjacent Cathedral. Inside the aisles, the east side housed the chapter house, in contrast to the refectory located to the west. The south side housed the dormitory, while the body of the church still forms the northern front.
In this space, the sculptural Romanesque decoration becomes the interpreter of the courtly language which, in the East , was represented by the magnificence of the mosaic ornamentation.
The  multicultural expansion of the Norman kingdom introduced not only Byzantine East and Islamic languages to Sicily, but also Provençal artistic forms.
Unlike the Cefalù cloister, whose position on the north side of the cathedral is a result of the land’s orography, the Monreale cloister is located, according to canonical rule, against the cathedral’s southern front. However, some similarities can be found in the architectural composition of the lanes, in which twin columns are used in both cases.

CLOISTER GARDEN
The central courtyard of the cloister is canonically defined as a garden, in which no flower essences are planted because they are deciduous; instead, the flowers are sculpted in the capitals, in the eternal nature of the stone. The garden, according to tradition, is divided into four parts where four symbolic trees are planted, the fig, the pomegranate, the olive and the palm. The first two plants, the fig and the pomegranate, refer to the Old Testament, as they are considered to be historical. The fig tree is located in the south-east and symbolises the Garden of Eden. The pomegranate tree is located in the north-east the garden of the Song of Songs. For the New Testament, the presence of symbolic plants is notable. The Olive tree, an allegory of Gethsemane and the future Easter, is located to the north-east, while the Palm tree, in the garden of the Apocalypse, is located to the south-west.

A fundamental and highly symbolic role in the cloister, a green space imbued with peace, silence and spirituality, is played by the plants in the garden and the water. The garden does not contain flowers, which are instead carved into the stone of the capitals, but, divided into four parts, it is an oasis for four “biblical” plants: the fig, the pomegranate, the olive and the palm.
The first two plants, the fig and the pomegranate, refer to the Old Testament, as they are considered to be historical. The fig tree is located in the south-east and symbolises the Garden of Eden and therefore the place of creation.
The pomegranate tree is located in the north-east, in the garden of the Song of Songs, where the groom meets the bride. For the New Testament, the presence of symbolic plants is notable. The Olive tree, an allegory of Gethsemane and the future Easter, is located to the north-west, while the Palm tree, in the garden of the Apocalypse, is located to the south-west.
Water, a fundamental element of the cloistered space, a sign of salvation and purification, spouts from the lion and human mouths of the singular fountain , located at the corner between the western and southern aisles, a palimpsest of different stylistic characters. The fountain, named after the king, gives the cloister the image of an enclosed garden, an allegory of Paradise.

A Northern population

The side Portico: a combination of elegance and lightness of form

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Thirteenth-century iconography decorates the nave’s wooden ceiling, designed with new solutions

The cultural substrate through time

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Worship services

The Great Restoration

The columns of the nave: the meticulous study of the overall order

Roger II’s strategic design

The rediscovered chapel

From the main gate to the aisles: an invitation to a journey of faith

Mosaic decoration

The original design

Survey of the royal tombs

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The area of the Sanctuary

The side aisles

A new Cathedral

The Cefalù cathedral: a construction yard undergoing a change between a surge of faith and control over the territory

The mosaics of the apses

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The chapel of the crucifix: an artistic casket based on a previous model

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The southern portico

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

A space between the visible and the invisible

The Cathedral over the centuries

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

A controversial interpretation

The links between the hauteville family and the monastic orders in Sicily

The marble portal: an intimate dialogue between complex ornamental aspects and formal structure

Ecclesia munita

The paradisiacal “Conca d’oro” that embraces Palermo: a name with countless faces through time

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

A compositional design that combines nordic examples with new artistic languages, over the centuries

Transformations over the centuries

A tree full of life

The chapel of St. Benedict

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Biblical themes enlivened by the dazzling light of the stained – glass windows overlooking the naves

The decorated facade

Beyond the harmony of proportions

Squaring the circle

A remarkable ceiling

The architectural modifications ti the cathedral building after the death of Roger II and the transformations of the cloister

The mosaics of the presbytery

The plasticism of the main portico and Bonanno Pisano’s Monumental Bronze Door

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The king’s mark

The senses tell Context 1

Palermo: the happiest city

The cemetery of kings

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The Chapel of the Kings

The balance between architecture and light

A palimpsest of history

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The Gualtiero Cathedral

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The towers and the western facade

The lost chapel

The longest aisle

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The stone bible

The Virgin Hodegetria

Tempus fugit: a strategic project implemented in a short period of time

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Under the crosses of the Bema

The beginning of the construction site

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Interior decorations

The Bible carved in stone

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power