Apses and transept
Cefalù Cathedral

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

EXTERNAL APSES
The external architectural decoration of the three apses features twin columns dividing the semi-spherical surface, ending in the central apse with a fringe of elegant single-light blind arches, arranged in an alternating rhythm of evident Romanesque origin. The oculi were inserted in the space dividing the columns, in the middle position. The side apses, on the other hand, are influenced by Islamic architecture with their typical intertwining arches. The presence of large oculi, both in the central apse and in the transept, is reminiscent of Burgundian architecture, confirming the activity of workers of different origins on the site.

The decoration of the external architectural part of the three apses has the common feature of paired columns, which divide the semi-spherical surface, ending, in the central apse, with a fringe of elegant blind single-lancet arches , arranged in an alternating rhythm of evident Romanesque origin. The oculi were inserted in the space between the columns, in the middle position, according to a plan that was abandoned after a few years because the internal mosaic decoration concealed their presence. The side apses, on the other hand, are influenced by Islamic architecture with their typical intertwining arches .
The presence of large oculi , both in the central apse and in the transept, is reminiscent of Burgundian architecture , confirming the activity of workers of different origins on the site.
The distinctive feature at the end of the outer transept is the lively decoration, with small columns and blind arches corresponding to the internal walkway and loggia.
The roofs of these areas of the complex are different in relation to the rooms because of the many disruptions in construction affecting some parts of the Cathedral. The most evident defect, probably the result of a fire in the 16th century, concerns the southern arm of the transept, because of the presence of a high barrel vault , made of bricks and featuring with false ribs on the inside.

Worship services

A new Cathedral

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The stone bible

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

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

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

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

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The chapel of St. Benedict

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The Virgin Hodegetria

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The balance between architecture and light

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The towers and the western facade

The beginning of the construction site

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The king’s mark

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

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

The southern portico

Squaring the circle

Interior decorations

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

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

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Transformations over the centuries

The lost chapel

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

A controversial interpretation

Palermo: the happiest city

The mosaics of the presbytery

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

A tree full of life

Ecclesia munita

The rediscovered chapel

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The Great Restoration

Survey of the royal tombs

The Chapel of the Kings

A palimpsest of history

The cemetery of kings

A space between the visible and the invisible

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

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

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

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

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

The side aisles

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

The area of the Sanctuary

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The cultural substrate through time

The mosaics of the apses

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

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

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

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The longest aisle

A remarkable ceiling

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The senses tell Context 1

A Northern population

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

The Cathedral over the centuries

The original design

The Bible carved in stone

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Mosaic decoration

Under the crosses of the Bema

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The decorated facade

Roger II’s strategic design