Monreale Cathedral
the internal areas

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

From the right-hand side aisle of the cathedral, passing through a portal which may date back to William II’s era, located symmetrically on the opposite side of the side entrance, we enter the chapel of San Castrense , located in the north wing of the cloister.Even from the representations appearing in relief on the walnut shutters, decorated with foliage, we can see the image of the chapel’s namesake Holy Bishop on the left, at the front, wearing a mitre, holding a crosier and giving a blessing.This is followed, on the right, by the frontal figure of Archbishop Ludovico II de Torres , who commissioned this space and who, stripped of his iconographic attributes and bareheaded, holds only a cross-shaped staff to emphasise his mission as Pastor. The founder’s noble lineage is commemorated in the coats of arms below, where five skilfully inlaid towers stand out.
The geometric profile of the squares, lightened by iron grilles adorning the central area, are interrupted by the sinuous design of the bronze ring-shaped handles, each decorated with putti holding the Torrese coat of arms, supported by a cherub.
Work on the construction and decoration of this first important Renaissance work inside the cathedral lasted from 1588 to 1609. This project was carried out to contain the relics of the patron saint of the city and the archdiocese, which had arrived in Monreale on 29 December 1596 at the behest of Alfano, Bishop of Capua, as a wedding gift for the sovereign.
As well as fulfilling the desire already expressed by Ludovico I de Torres, the construction of the chapel was also intended to fulfil a personal wish of his successor. He wanted to make it his own burial place, a wish that remained unfulfilled, as his remains remained in Rome in the Church of San Pancrazio, where he was appointed patron, when he died in 1609.

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

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

Transformations over the centuries

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

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

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

The decorated facade

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

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

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The lost chapel

The stone bible

The mosaics of the presbytery

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Worship services

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The chapel of St. Benedict

The balance between architecture and light

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

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The rediscovered chapel

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The side aisles

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Ecclesia munita

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

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

Mosaic decoration

A space between the visible and the invisible

The Great Restoration

The beginning of the construction site

Squaring the circle

Under the crosses of the Bema

The Cathedral over the centuries

Survey of the royal tombs

A Northern population

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The southern portico

A remarkable ceiling

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

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

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

The cemetery of kings

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A palimpsest of history

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

Roger II’s strategic design

The towers and the western facade

The mosaics of the apses

Interior decorations

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

The Bible carved in stone

Palermo: the happiest city

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The senses tell Context 1

The longest aisle

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

The area of the Sanctuary

A new Cathedral

The Chapel of the Kings

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The Virgin Hodegetria

The cultural substrate through time

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

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

A controversial interpretation

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

A tree full of life

The original design

The king’s mark

The Gualtiero Cathedral