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 stone bible

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

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

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The towers and the western facade

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The area of the Sanctuary

The cemetery of kings

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The original design

The Bible carved in stone

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Interior decorations

The balance between architecture and light

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

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

The beginning of the construction site

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Mosaic decoration

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

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

A palimpsest of history

Roger II’s strategic design

Ecclesia munita

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

Squaring the circle

The Chapel of the Kings

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

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

The Great Restoration

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

A remarkable ceiling

Transformations over the centuries

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

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

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

A space between the visible and the invisible

The lost chapel

Survey of the royal tombs

The longest aisle

A new Cathedral

A Northern population

The mosaics of the apses

The Gualtiero Cathedral

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The chapel of St. Benedict

The side aisles

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

Worship services

The senses tell Context 1

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

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The king’s mark

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The southern portico

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

A tree full of life

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Under the crosses of the Bema

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

A controversial interpretation

The decorated facade

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

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The Virgin Hodegetria

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The mosaics of the presbytery

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

The Cathedral over the centuries

The rediscovered chapel

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

Palermo: the happiest city

The cultural substrate through time

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work