Monreale Cathedral
the Context 1

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

For over two centuries, the Arab domination in Sicily gave the island a cultural climate and a level of civilisation still unknown in other regions of Italy. At the same time, in Europe, after the decline of the the Carolingian renaissance , European kingdoms began to fragment around the year 1000. The knowledge, embedded into Arab culture, starting with the development of science, mathematics and extending into the intangible world of philosophy and alchemy, also involved the reorganisation of the layout of the Palermo area. The region thus became an area where studies on water channelling systems, including underground systems, known as the quanāt , gave impetus to the construction of parks and suburban gardens, enriched by the presence of surface pipelines, known as saie, and water collection tanks.New fruit trees such as cedars, lemons and oranges were introduced into these endless expanses as part of a diverse cultivation system. In addition to the pleasant view enhanced by a rich palette of colours, there was no shortage of the spicy scents of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and jasmine, which permeated the air with a mixture of Middle Eastern aromas.
Architecture of undoubted geometric purity stood out in the regular proportions of the paradise gardens, echoing those of Persia and Samarkand. An example is the castle, probably of Islamic origin, which can be traced back to the Kalbite Emir Ja’farn in the district of Maredolce , at a time when Muslim power on the island was already in decline.

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

The original design

Interior decorations

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

Roger II’s strategic design

The mosaics of the presbytery

The side aisles

Mosaic decoration

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The chapel of St. Benedict

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

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The cemetery of kings

Ecclesia munita

The cultural substrate through time

A space between the visible and the invisible

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

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

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

Worship services

The senses tell Context 1

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

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

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The southern portico

The Great Restoration

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The Chapel of the Kings

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

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

A Northern population

The Bible carved in stone

The decorated facade

The area of the Sanctuary

The king’s mark

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

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Under the crosses of the Bema

The mosaics of the apses

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

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

The towers and the western facade

The beginning of the construction site

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Survey of the royal tombs

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

The Gualtiero Cathedral

A controversial interpretation

The rediscovered chapel

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

A new Cathedral

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Squaring the circle

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

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The longest aisle

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

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

A palimpsest of history

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Transformations over the centuries

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The lost chapel

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

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Palermo: the happiest city

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

A tree full of life

The balance between architecture and light

A remarkable ceiling

The Cathedral over the centuries

The stone bible

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