Palermo Cathedral
The Context 2

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

When the Normans arrived, the Gami Mosque in Palermo, which was immediately converted into a Christian church, was entrusted to the care of the bishop Nicodemus , who had taken refuge with the Byzantine clergy in the small church of Aghia Kiriaki , in the Monreale area during the period of Muslim domination.
For a considerable period of time, Palermo Cathedral, which was the largest of the Norman cathedrals in Sicily, retained the structure of the great Gami Mosque, even though it was adapted and re-consecrated for Christian worship. The church underwent extensive renovation and adaptation to meet liturgical requirements. On 15 May 1129, Roger II had a chapel built ‘in cornu evangeli’ dedicated to the Mother of God, the ‘Deipara coronata’.
In this particular Cathedral chapel, Roger II , son of the great Count and first King of Sicily, was crowned on Christmas Eve in 1130: Rex Siciliae, ducatus Apuliae et principatus Capuae, thus becoming Palermo: Prima Sedes, Corona Regis et Regni Caput .
The following year, Roger II’s wife Albiria had the Magdalene Chapel built against the southern wall of the church, ‘ in cornu epistolae ‘, opposite the place where Roger’s coronation took place. The chapel was built as a family mausoleum, to provide a proper burial place for the Norman Dukes and Princes.

The lost chapel

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The Virgin Hodegetria

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The southern portico

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

A remarkable ceiling

The balance between architecture and light

The decorated facade

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

A space between the visible and the invisible

Ecclesia munita

The cemetery of kings

Squaring the circle

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The original design

Palermo: the happiest city

Transformations over the centuries

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

The senses tell Context 1

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

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

The beginning of the construction site

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

A palimpsest of history

The side aisles

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The longest aisle

The towers and the western facade

The Cathedral over the centuries

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

A controversial interpretation

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

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

The mosaics of the presbytery

The rediscovered chapel

The mosaics of the apses

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

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

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

A tree full of life

The cultural substrate through time

The area of the Sanctuary

Under the crosses of the Bema

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

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

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The Great Restoration

Worship services

Survey of the royal tombs

The Bible carved in stone

A Northern population

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

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

Interior decorations

The king’s mark

The stone bible

The Chapel of the Kings

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

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

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Mosaic decoration

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

The Gualtiero Cathedral

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

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

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

Roger II’s strategic design

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

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

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

A new Cathedral

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The chapel of St. Benedict