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.

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

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

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The beginning of the construction site

A palimpsest of history

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

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

The king’s mark

The Bible carved in stone

The area of the Sanctuary

Mosaic decoration

The stone bible

Transformations over the centuries

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The cemetery of kings

The senses tell Context 1

Interior decorations

The southern portico

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Roger II’s strategic design

The lost chapel

The Chapel of the Kings

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The Cathedral over the centuries

Under the crosses of the Bema

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The Virgin Hodegetria

The mosaics of the presbytery

A new Cathedral

A controversial interpretation

A space between the visible and the invisible

The cultural substrate through time

The balance between architecture and light

Survey of the royal tombs

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The Gualtiero Cathedral

Squaring the circle

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

A Northern population

The rediscovered chapel

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

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

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

Worship services

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Ecclesia munita

The decorated facade

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

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

Palermo: the happiest city

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

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

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

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

The towers and the western facade

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

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

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

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

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

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

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The original design

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The Great Restoration

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The side aisles

The chapel of St. Benedict

A tree full of life

The longest aisle

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The mosaics of the apses

A remarkable ceiling

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

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