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 beginning of the construction site

The rediscovered chapel

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

The longest aisle

Beyond the harmony of proportions

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The senses tell Context 1

Squaring the circle

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The cultural substrate through time

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

Palermo: the happiest city

A Northern population

Roger II’s strategic design

The king’s mark

The Gualtiero Cathedral

Under the crosses of the Bema

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

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

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

Survey of the royal tombs

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

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

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The original design

The mosaics of the apses

The Bible carved in stone

The chapel of St. Benedict

A remarkable ceiling

A new Cathedral

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

A palimpsest of history

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

A space between the visible and the invisible

Interior decorations

Worship services

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

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

The cemetery of kings

The lost chapel

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Ecclesia munita

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

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

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Mosaic decoration

The southern portico

The area of the Sanctuary

The balance between architecture and light

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The Great Restoration

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Transformations over the centuries

The Chapel of the Kings

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

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

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

A controversial interpretation

A tree full of life

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The stone bible

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The towers and the western facade

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

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

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

The decorated facade

The mosaics of the presbytery

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The side aisles

The Virgin Hodegetria

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

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

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

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