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 beginning of the construction site

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

The Gualtiero Cathedral

A new Cathedral

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

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 lost chapel

Interior decorations

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The mosaics of the presbytery

The mosaics of the apses

The area of the Sanctuary

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Transformations over the centuries

The senses tell Context 1

Roger II’s strategic design

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

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

A Northern population

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Squaring the circle

The stone bible

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The chapel of St. Benedict

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

A palimpsest of history

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The rediscovered chapel

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

Mosaic decoration

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

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

A remarkable ceiling

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

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The Bible carved in stone

A controversial interpretation

A tree full of life

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The decorated facade

Under the crosses of the Bema

A space between the visible and the invisible

The towers and the western facade

Palermo: the happiest city

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The longest aisle

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The king’s mark

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The Chapel of the Kings

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

The southern portico

Ecclesia munita

The cemetery of kings

Worship services

The side aisles

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The original design

The cultural substrate through time

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

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The Great Restoration

The balance between architecture and light

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Survey of the royal tombs

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

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The transformations of the hall through the centuries