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.

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

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

The original design

The Virgin Hodegetria

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

A Northern population

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The senses tell Context 1

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The chapel of St. Benedict

A controversial interpretation

A palimpsest of history

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The beginning of the construction site

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Survey of the royal tombs

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

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

The Bible carved in stone

Roger II’s strategic design

The longest aisle

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

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

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

The towers and the western facade

A new Cathedral

The stone bible

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

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

Under the crosses of the Bema

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

Interior decorations

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

The mosaics of the apses

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The balance between architecture and light

The Chapel of the Kings

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

Ecclesia munita

The Cathedral over the centuries

A tree full of life

Mosaic decoration

The southern portico

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

Palermo: the happiest city

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

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

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The lost chapel

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The area of the Sanctuary

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

The side aisles

A remarkable ceiling

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

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

The mosaics of the presbytery

The cultural substrate through time

The cemetery of kings

Worship services

Transformations over the centuries

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The king’s mark

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The decorated facade

The Great Restoration

The rediscovered chapel

A space between the visible and the invisible

Squaring the circle

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers