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.

The longest aisle

Palermo: the happiest city

The southern portico

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

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

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The cemetery of kings

The Bible carved in stone

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

The stone bible

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The rediscovered chapel

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

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

The beginning of the construction site

Survey of the royal tombs

The decorated facade

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

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

A tree full of life

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

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Under the crosses of the Bema

Transformations over the centuries

The towers and the western facade

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The cultural substrate through time

A palimpsest of history

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The side aisles

A Northern population

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

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The mosaics of the apses

The balance between architecture and light

Ecclesia munita

The king’s mark

The senses tell Context 1

A controversial interpretation

Roger II’s strategic design

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

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

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

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

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

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

The area of the Sanctuary

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

A remarkable ceiling

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

The mosaics of the presbytery

The Chapel of the Kings

Worship services

The lost chapel

Mosaic decoration

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

A new Cathedral

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

A space between the visible and the invisible

The Cathedral over the centuries

Interior decorations

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The Great Restoration

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Squaring the circle

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The original design

The chapel of St. Benedict

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral