Palermo Cathedral
The Context 1

A Northern population

The Normans, a Viking population from Normandy, landed in Messina in 1061 and conquered Palermo in 1071 under the leadership of two great leaders of the Altavilla family: Robert Guiscard and his brother the Great Count Roger found a prosperous and rich city.From here they continued their quest to conquer the island, which lasted about 30 years, until 1091, when the city of Noto, the last Muslim stronghold in Sicily, was conquered.
The military operation was preceded by a pact, known as the Treaty of Melfi , in which Pope Nicholas II gave Robert Guiscard, of the Norman Altavilla family , the mandate to proceed to conquer the regions of southern Italy, giving him the title of Duke of Apulia, Count in Sicily and Duke of Calabria, even before the conquest of such territories.
The Norman presence in Sicily was not accidental, it was strongly backed by the Church, to somehow balance the Byzantine presence in Southern Italy and free Sicily from the Muslim occupation, which had lasted over 250 years, thus being able to bring Christianity back to the island.

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

The beginning of the construction site

A space between the visible and the invisible

Squaring the circle

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

A new Cathedral

A Northern population

The cultural substrate through time

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The stone bible

The cemetery of kings

The mosaics of the apses

The Cathedral over the centuries

Transformations over the centuries

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The towers and the western facade

The southern portico

A palimpsest of history

The original design

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The senses tell Context 1

The chapel of St. Benedict

The lost chapel

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The Great Restoration

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The balance between architecture and light

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The Virgin Hodegetria

Mosaic decoration

A tree full of life

A remarkable ceiling

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

Interior decorations

The king’s mark

The Bible carved in stone

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Under the crosses of the Bema

Palermo: the happiest city

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

Survey of the royal tombs

Worship services

The Gualtiero Cathedral

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

The longest aisle

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

A controversial interpretation

The area of the Sanctuary

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The Chapel of the Kings

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

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

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

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

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

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

Ecclesia munita

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

The decorated facade

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

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

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

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

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

The rediscovered chapel

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

The side aisles

Roger II’s strategic design

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

The mosaics of the presbytery

The Kings’ Cathedrals