Apses and transept
Cefalù Cathedral

The beginning of the construction site

News of the construction of the Cefalù Cathedral must have reached all the lands of the Norman kingdom rather quickly.
As was the case for the construction of all great cathedrals, stone masters, builders, master masons and axe masters came from all over and, together with their families, flooded the small fishing village of Cefalù. The building, like any respectable medieval work, started from the east, with the first work being the construction of the most sacred area of the church. Initiating the construction of the Cefalù Cathedral was certainly not an easy task; one of the few large churches and perhaps the only cathedral to be built with staggered levels in its foundations . The area on which the grandiose temple was to be built was identified as a steep cliff that sloped down towards the sea from the slopes of the great Rocca above the town.
The first activity that the master builders carried out was the construction of the laying surface and the underlying foundations, built in steps with substructure walls .
Once the floor level had been obtained, the building’s wall perimeter plan was able to be drawn up and construction could begin.
The construction site opened with an organic and unified plan, which involved the creation of the main apse, the two service apses , the Diaconicon on the right and of the Prothesis on the left, together with the large transverse body of the transept.
The construction technique used for the foundations is evident in the plinths of the apses.
These are built in steps on different levels. The architectural composition of the high walls was strongly influenced by the Nordic style; in fact, Burgundian and more classic Romanesque stylistic features are visible.

Squaring the circle

A palimpsest of history

Worship services

Survey of the royal tombs

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

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

The cultural substrate through time

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

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

The beginning of the construction site

The cemetery of kings

Interior decorations

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

A Northern population

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

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

The southern portico

The Chapel of the Kings

The lost chapel

The longest aisle

The rediscovered chapel

The area of the Sanctuary

A space between the visible and the invisible

The chapel of St. Benedict

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The Bible carved in stone

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

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

Transformations over the centuries

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

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

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

The Great Restoration

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The mosaics of the apses

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The Virgin Hodegetria

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

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

A remarkable ceiling

Under the crosses of the Bema

The towers and the western facade

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The king’s mark

A tree full of life

The decorated facade

Mosaic decoration

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

The balance between architecture and light

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

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

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Ecclesia munita

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

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

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The side aisles

Roger II’s strategic design

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

A controversial interpretation

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

A new Cathedral

The senses tell Context 1

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The mosaics of the presbytery

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The original design

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

The stone bible

Palermo: the happiest city