Palermo Cathedral
St. Mary Magdalene

A controversial interpretation

This document, written by Gualtiero, was mistranslated in the past, leading to errors made by later historiographers and scholars who interpreted the chapel as having been demolished, failing to identify its exact location. A careful reading and translation of the above-mentioned petition shows that Gualtiero was not asking the King for permission to demolish the Chapel, but to grant it to the Clerics of the Cathedral and their liturgical services. At the same time, he wanted to be able to move the mortal remains of the nobles of the royal family which were kept there to another place, by building a new chapel dedicated to Mary Magdalene. It should also be noted that the document is dated 1187, the 21st year of William II's reign , when the work of transforming the church had already been completed. It was reopened for worship on 6 April 1185, with a solemn consecration ceremony dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of the Assumption . The thesis that supported the belief in the chapel’s demolition was also based on a presumed rebuilding ab fundamentis of the Gualtierina Cathedral, shifting it a few metres from its former location as a former mosque and Byzantine basilica to the southern front.

A Northern population

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Roger II’s strategic design

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

The rediscovered chapel

The Bible carved in stone

The Virgin Hodegetria

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

Survey of the royal tombs

Transformations over the centuries

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

A tree full of life

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The towers and the western facade

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

The mosaics of the presbytery

Worship services

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The Great Restoration

A space between the visible and the invisible

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The Chapel of the Kings

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

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The balance between architecture and light

The longest aisle

Beyond the harmony of proportions

Under the crosses of the Bema

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The original design

The decorated facade

The cemetery of kings

The king’s mark

Palermo: the happiest city

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

The side aisles

A controversial interpretation

Interior decorations

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

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

The area of the Sanctuary

The Cathedral over the centuries

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

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

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The chapel of St. Benedict

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

A new Cathedral

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

A remarkable ceiling

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The beginning of the construction site

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The senses tell Context 1

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

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

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The southern portico

The stone bible

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

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Squaring the circle

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The mosaics of the apses

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

A palimpsest of history

Ecclesia munita

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The cultural substrate through time

The lost chapel

Mosaic decoration

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

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

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

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

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