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.

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The area of the Sanctuary

The towers and the western facade

The Great Restoration

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The Kings’ Cathedrals

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

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The king’s mark

The southern portico

The stone bible

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

The balance between architecture and light

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

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

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The cemetery of kings

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

Worship services

Palermo: the happiest city

A remarkable ceiling

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The side aisles

Ecclesia munita

A Northern population

The Bible carved in stone

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The chapel of St. Benedict

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

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

The cultural substrate through time

The mosaics of the apses

The original design

Roger II’s strategic design

The rediscovered chapel

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

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

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

A tree full of life

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

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

A palimpsest of history

The beginning of the construction site

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A controversial interpretation

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

The lost chapel

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

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

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

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

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Interior decorations

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The Chapel of the Kings

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

The decorated facade

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

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

A space between the visible and the invisible

The Virgin Hodegetria

Survey of the royal tombs

The longest aisle

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

Transformations over the centuries

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Mosaic decoration

The senses tell Context 1

The mosaics of the presbytery

A new Cathedral

Under the crosses of the Bema

Squaring the circle