Monreale Cathedral
the Great Presbytery

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Amidst a mixture of different classical, Byzantine and Arab artistic influences, the temple’s magnificence religiously evokes the sumptuousness of a domus aurea with its one hundred and thirty paintings with a gold background, which are spread throughout the rooms of the Cathedral. In the splendour of this temple, charm and beauty are also found in the mosaic floor.
Unfortunately, few examples of its original layout have survived, as it was subject to renovations, first during the 16th century, and then following the fire of 1811. This can be understood from the words of Abbot Domenico Benedetto Gravina, in his essay on the Monreale Cathedral, dating back to the second half of the 19th century: “However, it should be noted that most of those that exist today were made after the fire of 1811.
There are very few examples from earlier times, and perhaps none from the Norman period. A detailed testimony dating back to the 1540s reported by friar Leandro Alberti recalls the previous presence of anthropomorphic and phyto zoomorphic themes populating the floorboards of the Basilica. The latter are no longer visible, except in the motif featuring four hares, inscribed in a circle in front of the prostheses and in some parts of the stone facing that occupies the Campata di San Luigi, or the St. Louis bay, on the left side of the presbytery, up to the entrance of the magnificent Chapel of the Crucifix.This area of the cathedral contains most of the ancient stone material, including figured stone, which can probably be traced back to the work of masters who worked during William II ’s time.
The dominant style is Byzantine-Cassinese , unlike the Islamic , which is the undisputed protagonist of the mosaic carpet in the other rooms of the religious building, alternating with the Roman-Cosmatesque components present in the bands and backgrounds.
In the great presbytery   and the post presbytery , the floor decoration is almost entirely composed of Islamic motifs, skilfully combined with the Cosmatesque style impressed in the geometric decoration of the remaining areas.The right wing of the presbytery, where the Campata dei Gugliemi, or the Williams’ bay, is located, echoes the floor panels of the Palatine Chapel .This space, affected by restorations carried out between the 15th and 16th centuries, probably contains reused elements of the original floor.
In the floor strip in front of the presbytery , there is once again a mixture of Islamic designs and Cosmatesque geometry.

Under the crosses of the Bema

Ecclesia munita

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The rediscovered chapel

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

The king’s mark

The area of the Sanctuary

The cultural substrate through time

The senses tell Context 1

A space between the visible and the invisible

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The cemetery of kings

The Kings’ Cathedrals

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

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The longest aisle

Squaring the circle

A palimpsest of history

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

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

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

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

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

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The lost chapel

The mosaics of the apses

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The decorated facade

Roger II’s strategic design

Survey of the royal tombs

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

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Worship services

The towers and the western facade

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

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

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

The stone bible

The Great Restoration

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

The southern portico

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The chapel of St. Benedict

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

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

The beginning of the construction site

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

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

Transformations over the centuries

A tree full of life

The mosaics of the presbytery

The balance between architecture and light

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The original design

A new Cathedral

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

A Northern population

The side aisles

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

A remarkable ceiling

The Chapel of the Kings

Palermo: the happiest city

The Virgin Hodegetria

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The Bible carved in stone

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

Mosaic decoration

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Interior decorations

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

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

The Cathedral over the centuries

A controversial interpretation