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 controversial interpretation

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The decorated facade

The rediscovered chapel

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

A remarkable ceiling

A new Cathedral

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

Beyond the harmony of proportions

A palimpsest of history

The beginning of the construction site

The area of the Sanctuary

Worship services

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

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

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

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

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

Under the crosses of the Bema

The longest aisle

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

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

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The Virgin Hodegetria

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The Kings’ Cathedrals

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

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The senses tell Context 1

Survey of the royal tombs

Ecclesia munita

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

A space between the visible and the invisible

The original design

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The southern portico

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

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

The balance between architecture and light

The king’s mark

Mosaic decoration

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

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

The side aisles

The chapel of St. Benedict

Transformations over the centuries

The stone bible

The towers and the western facade

A Northern population

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The lost chapel

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

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The Great Restoration

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The mosaics of the apses

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Palermo: the happiest city

Squaring the circle

The cemetery of kings

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

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The Chapel of the Kings

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Roger II’s strategic design

The Bible carved in stone

The mosaics of the presbytery

The Cathedral over the centuries

Interior decorations

A tree full of life

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The cultural substrate through time

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety