Cefalù Cathedral
context 1

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

We must go back in time, to the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., to go back to the original city. It was a fortress surrounded by the expanse of the sea and enclosed within powerful walls placed on top of a rock, which still marks the perimeter of what was a military outpost, known as phrourion of Kephaloidion , today.
Thanks to archaeological investigations which have provided a valid contribution compared to the meagre ancient literary sources, it is possible to reconstruct the history of the settlements, starting with the Sican-Phoenician one which, in Roman times, became a decuman city .
Reflecting a quotation from Diodorus Siculus , dating back to 396 B.C., stratigraphic reports have identified the remains of a Hellenistic Roman structure concealed by other structures from the Middle Ages, superimposed, respectively, on a regular, chequered urban plan, known as Hippodamia . The fortified walls made up of a megalithic facing with large blocks, dating back to the 5th century BC, and placed along the cliff, surrounded the city on four sides, with turrets distinguishable from the coast. A precious testimony, written by the Cefaludese scholar Benedetto Passafiume in the first half of the 17th century, describes the architecture within the walls, which is still visible today. For example, reference was made to the four doors and the posterns, small hidden openings, located far from the main entrances, intended as emergency passages. Such was the importance assumed by Cefalù through the centuries, that during the 700 A.D., it became an Episcopal seat, maintaining the episcopate even after the first years of the Arab conquest.
Of this period of domination, which lasted about two centuries, no significant evidence has been preserved, except in some areas of the city, in alleys and neighbourhoods located north of Corso Ruggero. The Norman conquest of 1063, the work of Great Count Roger of Hauteville , set the bases for the political and cultural rebirth of the city, carried out by his successor Roger II .
During his reign, the Norman king introduced a series of privileges granted to the Church and his subjects, as well as actions related to an organic renewal of the territory, still tangible in the modern age.

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The mosaics of the presbytery

The mosaics of the apses

A Northern population

The balance between architecture and light

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The stone bible

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

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The area of the Sanctuary

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The cemetery of kings

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The Bible carved in stone

A palimpsest of history

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

The side aisles

A space between the visible and the invisible

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

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

The lost chapel

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

The senses tell Context 1

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The towers and the western facade

Squaring the circle

The Chapel of the Kings

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

Roger II’s strategic design

The cultural substrate through time

Ecclesia munita

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

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

A remarkable ceiling

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

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

Survey of the royal tombs

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

The chapel of St. Benedict

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The king’s mark

The beginning of the construction site

Under the crosses of the Bema

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

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The original design

The Gualtiero Cathedral

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

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The longest aisle

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

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The Great Restoration

Palermo: the happiest city

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Worship services

Mosaic decoration

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

A controversial interpretation

A new Cathedral

The Virgin Hodegetria

Transformations over the centuries

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

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

A tree full of life

The southern portico

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

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The rediscovered chapel

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Interior decorations

The decorated facade