Palermo Cathedral
The great Presbytery and the apses

The area of the Sanctuary

Due to the modifications and transformations carried out in the second half of the 12th century at the behest of Archbishop Gualtiero , the medieval layout of the Cathedral remained almost unchanged until the end of the 18th century, when the sacred building underwent a complex renovation , profoundly changing its original stylistic features, both inside and out.
During the period of Gualtiero, the ancient church, which had been used as a mosque at the time of the Muslim occupation, was radically restructured, and the double transept or great Presbytery system was created in the area of the sanctuary, composed of Titulo and Antititulo, according to the same construction scheme adopted in the contemporary Monreale Cathedral .The renovation transformed the area at the end, towards the east, where the large central apse was created, as well as the two lateral ones. The right apse was used for Diaconic services, while the left one was used for Prosthetic services.
In the area in front of the three apses, the Antititulo was inserted. This is a transverse space with respect to the axiality of the church, functioning as an ambulatory in the area of the sanctuary. The Antititulo, as reported in the chronicles, was covered by a muqarnas ceiling, similar to that of the Palatine Chapel. This environment thus divided the area of the apses from the Titulus , a large square area including the choir, the bishop's chair and the royal seat, with the tombs of the Bishops and the cemetery of the Kings located on the left and right sides.
All these liturgical spaces formed the “great Presbytery”, separated from the naves, reserved for the faithful, by an iconostasis , according to the Greek rite , officiated in churches at that time, together with the Latin one. The Titulo area was lit by four large single-lancet windows, on the south and north fronts, with the outer frames decorated with Islamic-style “cushion rings”. After the great transformation in the 18th century, only three remained on the southern side.
The Antititulo received light from a triad of lights, consisting of a large oculus and two single-lancet windows, open in the short walls to the north and south.
The Oculus was closed during restoration work carried out at the end of the 18th century and the two single-lancet windows were partly concealed beforehand.
Recent restorations have restored the original openings, on the southern and northern fronts, although they have now lost their original function due to the changes made to the interior of the building.

The Kings’ Cathedrals

A remarkable ceiling

A controversial interpretation

The mosaics of the presbytery

Palermo: the happiest city

The mosaics of the apses

The beginning of the construction site

The cultural substrate through time

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

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The Bible carved in stone

The decorated facade

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

Under the crosses of the Bema

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

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

Transformations over the centuries

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

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

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

Beyond the harmony of proportions

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Survey of the royal tombs

The Chapel of the Kings

The cemetery of kings

The rediscovered chapel

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

The longest aisle

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The southern portico

A palimpsest of history

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

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

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The chapel of St. Benedict

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

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

A new Cathedral

The Gualtiero Cathedral

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The lost chapel

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

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

The side aisles

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The original design

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

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

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

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The Virgin Hodegetria

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

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Squaring the circle

The senses tell Context 1

A tree full of life

The balance between architecture and light

Roger II’s strategic design

Worship services

The towers and the western facade

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Mosaic decoration

Ecclesia munita

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

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

The Great Restoration

The stone bible

The area of the Sanctuary

The Cathedral over the centuries

A space between the visible and the invisible

The king’s mark

Interior decorations

A Northern population

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

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon