Cefalù Cathedral
context 1

Roger II’s strategic design

The particular position of Cefalù, situated on the most important passes between the Val di Mazara and the Val Demone , as well as being a decisive transit area for the Madonie and Nebrodi valleys, became the basis on which the sovereign began the rebuilding of the city, which is almost halfway between Palermo and Messina. Roger II’s project of organic and unitary renovation took shape following the foundation of the Cathedral in 1131.
From an account by the Arab geographer Edrisi , dating back to the middle of the 12th century, the strategic, political and commercial importance of the city was accurately described as follows: “Gafludí, a city-like fortress, lies on the seashore, with its markets, baths and mills, situated in the same town, overlooking sweet and fresh water that rises up (from the rock), giving its inhabitants something to drink. The fortress of Cefalù (was built) on rocks, washed by the sea.” It has a beautiful harbour, where ships come from all over.
The country is very populated. A fortress overlooks it from the top of a steep mountain, very difficult to climb because of the high and steep coast”. The Norman sovereign made significant changes to the urban space, creating a new road layout, built over the previous Hellenistic-Roman era.The new design of via regia, today’s Corso Ruggero, was not left to chance, but gave life to geometric directions at right angles to the longitudinal axis of the cathedral. The order that distinguishes the comb-shaped street pattern that joins the bottom of the road contrasts, however, with the obvious tortuosity of the urban fabric still of Islamic matrix, located upstream of the same. In this heterogeneous palimpsest of actions, also dictated by a far-sighted desire for political consensus, numerous privileges granted to the Church were aimed at integrating the Latin population in a city still populated by Byzantine and Arab ethnic groups.

The senses tell Context 1

The mosaics of the apses

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Under the crosses of the Bema

A controversial interpretation

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

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

A Northern population

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The longest aisle

The lost chapel

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

Palermo: the happiest city

Transformations over the centuries

Survey of the royal tombs

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

The mosaics of the presbytery

The Bible carved in stone

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The Kings’ Cathedrals

A tree full of life

The cemetery of kings

The balance between architecture and light

The original design

The stone bible

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Worship services

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The area of the Sanctuary

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

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 decorated facade

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

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

The cultural substrate through time

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The beginning of the construction site

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

A remarkable ceiling

The Great Restoration

A palimpsest of history

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

Squaring the circle

Ecclesia munita

The Chapel of the Kings

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The king’s mark

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

Roger II’s strategic design

The Cathedral over the centuries

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The side aisles

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

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

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

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The chapel of St. Benedict

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Mosaic decoration

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

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The rediscovered chapel

A new Cathedral

A space between the visible and the invisible

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The towers and the western facade

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

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

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

Interior decorations

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