the church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio
the external architecture and the original layout

The architectural envelope: the Greek cross layout oriented towards the light

Following construction, which began around 1140 and was completed in 1143, work resumed three years later and continued over the years, at least until 1184, when the church was provided with an atrium in the form of an uncovered and porticoed trapezium, welcoming the faithful, a narthex and an external bell tower in axis with the central apse of the church.The narthex, in particular, which has been completely destroyed, had a rectangular layout and was leaning against the west wall of the church and enclosed within two walls along the north and south sides. The two mosaics were located in the narthex and then moved in the 16th century, with the dedication of George of Antioch and Roger crowned by Christ.
Numerous craftsmen, both local and from the East, worked in the various stages of construction during these decades. The original layout of the Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, whose structure is made of squared stone, with a simple and compact volume, typically Byzantine, had a triapsidal Greek cross layout, set in a square and oriented with the apse facing the light, and therefore the east, and the façade to the west.The Syrian-style Byzantine Orthodox dome still stands in the centre of the church, whose dimensions were 12.5 x 12.5 meters, on a high octagonal drum, with cylindrical corner niches embellished with concentric rings. Thanks to the dome, the church reaches a total height of 15.5 metres.

DOME AND FAÇADE WITH RECESSED RINGS
Despite the layering of styles, the external architectural features of the Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio still boast many distinctive elements, typical of Norman architecture, of Islamic origin, such as the articulation of the façade with niches with recessed, ogival arches, which give the masonry a vibrant rhythm. The Syrian-style Byzantine Orthodox dome stands in the centre of the church, on a high octagonal drum, with cylindrical corner niches embellished with concentric rings.

Although today the exterior is characterised by the striking Baroque façade, corresponding to the north side of the church, it had another structure, which has been erased over the years by numerous renovations and restorations. In order to adapt the church to the needs of the Latin rite, the interior was also modified: the floor plan was lengthened, creating the classic three  naves and the space in front was covered and incorporated into the building. During these works, at the end of 1600, the central apse, uniform to the two lateral ones, was replaced with a square chapel.Restoration work by Giuseppe Patricolo dates back to the 19th century, when the church was freed of some unsuitable additions.

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

An architectural crescendo

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

The senses tell the interior

The birth of the Norman kingdom

The senses tell the flooring

the Baroque exterior

The senses tell the historical context

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

The Cassaro

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

Decorations

The senses tell restorations

The Admiral’s dedication

The senses tell baroque decoration

The mosaics of the naves

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

The rediscovered palace

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

The senses tell the historical context

The return of water

The architectural space

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

Gold and light: the splendour of the mosaics in the Royal Chapel

The Royal Throne

The interior of the church

Restorations

Different styles and transformations of “one of the most beautiful monuments in the world”

The Norman conquest of Sicily and the birth of a new Latin kingdom

The loca solatiorum: dwellings for recreation, well-being and hunting

The senses tell the ceiling

The decorations on the bell tower

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

The ancient convent of the Martorana, a history of devotion and tradition

the Baroque interior

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

The Palace of Kings

From earthquake to collapse

the roof of Paradise: one of the most representative works of medieval art

The architectural envelope: the Greek cross layout oriented towards the light

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

The senses tell the architecture

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

The beautiful Zisa and its garden: solacium regi among sounds, colours and scents

A building constructed in a short space of time

The mosaics of the transept and the apses