Palermo Cathedral
The Kings’ tombs

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Four sarcophagi are placed in corresponding areas of the chapel, that of Roger II and Constance of Hauteville in the background, the funerary monuments of Frederick II and Henry VI in the first position. The first King of Sicily rests in a sepulchre, with a rectangular case, covered with slabs of red porphyry with a sloping lid, supported by a sculptural group of four male figures. Queen and Empress Constance of Hauteville lies in a red porphyry sarcophagus, bearing the epitaph “Romanorum imperatrix, semper augusta et regina Siciliae“. Both sarcophagi are surmounted by marble canopies; those for Roger II and Constance of Hauteville are in white marble, supported by columns decorated with mosaics with geometric motifs, together with the entablature.
The two sarcophagi of Henry VI and Frederick II have grey marble and porphyry slab roofs, supported by six porphyry columns. The entablature of the canopy covering the emperor’s sarcophagus contains anthropomorphic protomes. The sarcophagus, which contains the remains of Frederick II, is decorated with very complex Islamic iconography. In fact, the similarity between the lions painted on the ceiling of the Palatine Chapel and those which are sculpted to support the sarcophagus can be seen. Other classical and Byzantine references, recurrent in Norman iconography, include the clipei on the lid with the Pantocrator, the Madonna and Child and the Symbols of the Evangelists. The iconography alludes to the triumph of imperial power while the lion-shaped supports echo the beasts depicted in the original Hauteville arms.
Frederick II’s first wife, Constance of Aragon rests in a late antique white marble sarcophagus, decorated with an exciting hunting scene, set into the right wall of the Chapel of the Royal Tombs. In the sarcophagus, covered with sloping roofs, there is the inscription “Sicanie regina fui Constantia coniux augusta hic habito nunc Federice tua”.

The Sarcophagus of Constance Aragon
Frederick II’s first wife, Constance of Aragon, daughter of Peter of Aragon, rests in a white marble sarcophagus from the late Antiquity period. The sarcophagus, built into the right wall of the Chapel of the Royal Tombs, has a gable decoration with an exciting hunting scene and a sloping roof. The tomb also bears an inscription identifying the queen, who died in Catania in 1222: “Sicanie regina fui Constantia coniux augusta hic habito nunc Federice tua”. The interior of the tomb was inspected in 1491 at the behest of Viceroy Ferdinand de Acuña. Numerous jewels were found, which are now kept in the Cathedral treasury: the sumptuous crown, crafted in Palermo Tiraz, five rings and a silver plaque.
The Cathedral over the centuries

The decorated facade

Ecclesia munita

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

The cultural substrate through time

The balance between architecture and light

The Bible carved in stone

The mosaics of the presbytery

The Chapel of the Kings

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The stone bible

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Worship services

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

A remarkable ceiling

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

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

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

The Gualtiero Cathedral

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The senses tell Context 1

The original design

The rediscovered chapel

The cemetery of kings

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The Virgin Hodegetria

The mosaics of the apses

A tree full of life

Roger II’s strategic design

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

The longest aisle

A controversial interpretation

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

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Survey of the royal tombs

The area of the Sanctuary

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Under the crosses of the Bema

A palimpsest of history

A new Cathedral

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Interior decorations

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

A Northern population

The lost chapel

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

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The towers and the western facade

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

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Palermo: the happiest city

Transformations over the centuries

The chapel of St. Benedict

The king’s mark

The southern portico

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The beginning of the construction site

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

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

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The side aisles

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The Great Restoration

A space between the visible and the invisible

Mosaic decoration

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

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

Squaring the circle

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

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