Cefalù Cathedral
the chystro

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

After 1154, the architects and craftsmen worked to reduced the height of the nave and, consequently, that of the side aisles with their respective windows, with respect to the original design, which was followed until the construction of the triumphal arch in the transept .

The monumental arch, dating back to Roger’s reign, which can still be seen outside the building, is raised above the roof covering the lowered nave, which began being built in the second half of the 12th century, at the same time as the roof. These design changes involved the construction of an internal counter-arch , connecting the western front of the transept with the nave. There is no doubt at this point that if the original unitary project was intended to reflect a unitary design, it should have included the architectural development of the entire complex without creating the current difference in height between the church and the cloister. However, the project was addressed the area from the apse up to the end of the transept, as well as the great triumphal arch, part of the foundations and the first elevation of this area. It is assumed, from these changes that occurred over time, that the cloister was built at a later date, concomitant with the construction of the aisles, as it must have stood on the outside front of the northern aisle.The entrance to the cloister, contemporary with the work of Roger II, was located, in accordance with liturgical rules, on the left side of the transept and had to coincide with the floor level of the naves, which at the time were already laid out but had not yet been completed. The transformations made to the volumes of the architecture after the death of the king of Sicily never allowed the original door to be used in its complete form. In a first phase, in order to reach the level below, the ogival-arched room was lowered with the creation of an architrave. Steps were created inside the imposing masonry, from which a lateral staircase, of which traces remain in the stone, descended to the level of the porticoed courtyard, in the eastern aisle. Subsequently, the initial opening was abandoned, and a new door was opened in the 16th century, located in the left aisle, close to the tower. A wide stone staircase departed from this room, towards the western aisle, largely cluttering the space. Following recent restoration work, the first large door can now be better seen. Inserted in the western front of the transept, it was certainly designed to lead into the adjoining cloister, even though it was placed on the exit level of the transept floor. It is now about three metres higher than the current walkway of the cloister aisles. The direct connection between the Cloister and the Cathedral, originally intended to be coplanar, was irreparably compromised during the construction of the left aisle. The reduction in the heights of the walls and the setting of the relevant windows resulted in a strong inconsistency with the heights of the door and the position of the windows in the aisle. The idea of creating an embankment in order to level Cloister with the Cathedral was never considered.

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

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

The senses tell Context 1

Mosaic decoration

The beginning of the construction site

The southern portico

The Kings’ Cathedrals

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

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The Chapel of the Kings

A controversial interpretation

Survey of the royal tombs

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Under the crosses of the Bema

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

The towers and the western facade

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Transformations over the centuries

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

A tree full of life

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

The lost chapel

The mosaics of the apses

The Gualtiero Cathedral

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

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The mosaics of the presbytery

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Roger II’s strategic design

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

The chapel of St. Benedict

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The side aisles

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

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

The original design

The longest aisle

Beyond the harmony of proportions

Ecclesia munita

The Bible carved in stone

The king’s mark

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

A Northern population

The cultural substrate through time

The cemetery of kings

A palimpsest of history

The Cathedral over the centuries

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The Great Restoration

The area of the Sanctuary

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Palermo: the happiest city

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

A new Cathedral

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The decorated facade

Worship services

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

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The rediscovered chapel

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

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The stone bible

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

Squaring the circle

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

A remarkable ceiling

The balance between architecture and light

A space between the visible and the invisible

Interior decorations

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship