the mosaic cycle
The Palatine Chapel

Gold and light: the splendour of the mosaics in the Royal Chapel

The mosaic cycle of the Palatine Chapel, as in a biblia pauperum , tells the story of Salvation, through representations taken from the Old and New Testaments, which culminate in Christ Pantocrator , surrounded by an angelic court, in the dome.The mosaic work is part of King Roger II ‘s political and ideological programme. Immediately after his coronation in Palermo, he planned to build a chapel, reserved for the sovereign and his family, inside the Royal  Palace.The mosaic cycle is the result of a mixture of different classical artistic influences, especially Byzantine. The craftsmen, probably from Byzantium, created a domus where the shining gold of the tiles becomes an allegory of the glorious reign of Roger.
The representations, in an motionless and unnatural style, narrate timeless scenes, in a blaze of gold and bright colours where the King of Kings, Christ, the centrepiece of the entire mosaic cycle, recurs several times: blessing and within a tone in the dome; stern and half-length in the central apse; in majesty between Saints Peter and Paul in the part above the royal throne and in the space in front of the apsidiole dedicated to Saint Paul. Scenes from Genesis, stories of Peter and Paul, the life of Christ, saints, angels and prophets, cover the entire surface of the hall, the arches, the vaults and the sanctuary, creating a solemn atmosphere that still lingers inside the church today.
And even the Norman sovereigns could admire and enjoy the splendour of the mosaic cycle from the royal throne , aimed at glorifying Christ and the King.Work began in the presbytery area and continued, at two different times, throughout Roger’s reign until 1154. His successor, William I , known as the Bad, who reigned from 1154 to 1166, was responsible for the mosaics of the three aisles. During the reign of William II , the Good, from 1166 to 1189, the scene on the western façade of the Chapel was created, with Christ between Saints Peter and Paul, located above the royal throne, decorated in opus sectile .
The Palatine Chapel’s mosaics have undergone numerous restorations and some renovations and additions, always ordered and supervised by the Ciantro of the time.

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell the flooring

The senses tell the historical context

The loca solatiorum: dwellings for recreation, well-being and hunting

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

The senses tell the historical context

An architectural crescendo

The interior of the church

The senses tell the ceiling

The birth of the Norman kingdom


The mosaics of the naves

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

The senses tell the interior


The mosaics of the transept and the apses

The architectural space

Different styles and transformations of “one of the most beautiful monuments in the world”

The senses tell restorations

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

The Norman conquest of Sicily and the birth of a new Latin kingdom

A building constructed in a short space of time

The Royal Throne

The senses tell the architecture

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

the Baroque interior

From earthquake to collapse

The ancient convent of the Martorana, a history of devotion and tradition

The senses tell baroque decoration

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

The return of water

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

The Palace of Kings

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

The rediscovered palace

the Baroque exterior

The beautiful Zisa and its garden: solacium regi among sounds, colours and scents

Gold and light: the splendour of the mosaics in the Royal Chapel

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

The Admiral’s dedication

The decorations on the bell tower

The Cassaro

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

The architectural envelope: the Greek cross layout oriented towards the light

the roof of Paradise: one of the most representative works of medieval art