Monreale Cathedral
the Context 1

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The balanced system of luxuriant Islamic gardens in the plain of Palermo, with the advent of the Norman kingdom in Sicily , maintained its splendour thanks to the presence of Arab craftsmen and architects, to whom the sovereigns entrusted the creation of new luxuriant areas as a backdrop for their residences.A heritage not only aimed at visual gratification, due to the variety of colours of the tree species, such as fruit, that surrounded the avenues and pavilions, but also characterised by peaceful oases in which time moves with gentle flow of water that filled fish ponds, fountains and basins.
Just as the profile of the mountains encircled the Conca d’Oro, wrapping around it like a necklace, the Muslim pilgrim Ibn Jubayr also used the metaphor of the necklace wrapped around the neck during a visit to Palermo between December 1184 and January 1185, referring to the layout of the extra-moenia buildings . However, the image of Sicily “as an earthly paradise”, in addition to the harmony that could be perceived when observing the landscape, was well suited to the peaceful social balance that had been established between sovereign and subjects during the reign of William II , also mentioned by Dante Alighieri in the 20th canto of Paradise .During the Norman period, a synthesis was achieved between the Arab-derived structure of the Palatial Riyadh and the circumscribed universe of the hortus conclusus in the monastic cloister. The architecture interacts over the centuries, as if to reinterpret the inner courtyard of the Roman domus , with a fresh look, in a way that anticipated the patios of Spanish homes.

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

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

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

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The Bible carved in stone

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

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

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

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

The senses tell Context 1

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A new Cathedral

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

A Northern population

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The original design

Worship services

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The Kings’ Cathedrals

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

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

The southern portico

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

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Squaring the circle

The mosaics of the apses

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The longest aisle

The beginning of the construction site

The king’s mark

The mosaics of the presbytery

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

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

A space between the visible and the invisible

The side aisles

The balance between architecture and light

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

Beyond the harmony of proportions

Ecclesia munita

The Great Restoration

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

The towers and the western facade

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

A palimpsest of history

Under the crosses of the Bema

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

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The area of the Sanctuary

Survey of the royal tombs

Roger II’s strategic design

The lost chapel

Transformations over the centuries

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The decorated facade

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

The rediscovered chapel

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Interior decorations

The cultural substrate through time

Mosaic decoration

A controversial interpretation

The Chapel of the Kings

The stone bible

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

A tree full of life

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The cemetery of kings

A remarkable ceiling

The chapel of St. Benedict

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Palermo: the happiest city

Two initially similar towers, varied over time