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.
From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The mosaics of the presbytery

The stone bible

Interior decorations

Ecclesia munita

The Bible carved in stone

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

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

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

The lost chapel

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The original design

The southern portico

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

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

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

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The Cathedral over the centuries

The towers and the western facade

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

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

The area of the Sanctuary

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

A new Cathedral

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

The rediscovered chapel

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The chapel of St. Benedict

The cemetery of kings

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

Under the crosses of the Bema

The Great Restoration

A palimpsest of history

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

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

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

Survey of the royal tombs

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

A space between the visible and the invisible

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

A remarkable ceiling

The senses tell Context 1

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Worship services

Palermo: the happiest city

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

A Northern population

Roger II’s strategic design

A tree full of life

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

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Squaring the circle

The cultural substrate through time

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

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

Transformations over the centuries

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The mosaics of the apses

The longest aisle

The side aisles

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The balance between architecture and light

The king’s mark

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The Virgin Hodegetria

The Chapel of the Kings

Mosaic decoration

The decorated facade

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

A controversial interpretation

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The beginning of the construction site

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