Monreale Cathedral
the Great Presbytery

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

With its volumes, the chapel dominates the area above the passageway and extends, with a central plan, covered by a hexagonal dome resting on a square and adorned with pairs of pilasters , alternating with the small windows inserted in the lantern .
The area’s layout consists a rectangular room containing an altar , flanked on the right by the sacristy and on the left by a transit area leading to a small bell tower.
The extraordinary decoration inside is introduced at the entrance by the imposing double-leaf yellow copper gate, designed by Angelo Italia and produced by Gaetano Signorello , as if to accompany the faithful on a journey of wonder.
The graceful dynamism of the ornaments and architecture that enliven the Chapel of the Crucifix is permeated by multicoloured inlays and sculptures representing the theme of Passion.
A courtly mysticism composed of rich forms, inscriptions and sculptures is also underlined by the emergence of biblical and theological meanings, visible immediately after crossing the red marble steps into the chapel. We seem to be witnessing the daring vision of a single project in which the decoration of every surface, even the smallest, is not spared by the heterogeneous inspiration of the artists, permeated by the rigorous approach of its client.
In contrast to the whiteness of the bare plaster of the dome, now stripped of the frescoes that once adorned it, as if interrupting a symphony of artistic combinations, four life-size statues of Old Testament prophets stand out in this sacred space, in the act of pointing to Christ and, implicitly, to his passion and death..
The Crucifix becomes the vanishing point of the entire environment and the centrepiece of various figurative cycles.

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Ecclesia munita

The stone bible

A tree full of life

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

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

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

The towers and the western facade

The cemetery of kings

The area of the Sanctuary

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The Chapel of the Kings

The side aisles

Survey of the royal tombs

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

A controversial interpretation

The longest aisle

Mosaic decoration

The Bible carved in stone

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Worship services

The senses tell Context 1

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

A new Cathedral

The Gualtiero Cathedral

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

The balance between architecture and light

The lost chapel

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The Virgin Hodegetria

The original design

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

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

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The mosaics of the apses

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Palermo: the happiest city

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

A Northern population

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

Under the crosses of the Bema

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The southern portico

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The Great Restoration

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

A space between the visible and the invisible

The mosaics of the presbytery

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The rediscovered chapel

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

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

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

The decorated facade

A palimpsest of history

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Transformations over the centuries

The chapel of St. Benedict

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

The beginning of the construction site

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

Interior decorations

Squaring the circle

The cultural substrate through time

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

Beyond the harmony of proportions

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Roger II’s strategic design

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

A remarkable ceiling

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

The king’s mark