Monreale Cathedral
the Great Presbytery

The chapel of St. Benedict

A symbol of the splendour of Baroque art, St. Benedict ‘s  Chapel is located between the right arm of the transept and the nave , adjacent to the northern wing of the Benedictine cloister . Originally dedicated to San Cataldo, in 1569 Cardinal Alessandro Farnese had the altar of the founder of the Benedictine Order, after whom the chapel was named, placed in the chapel during the restoration and reconstruction of the large nave and the flooring .In the following centuries, the chapel was richly decorated according to current styles. In 1607 Antonio Novelli , father of the more famous Pietro Novelli , painted an altarpiece and frescoed the entire room. It was not until the following century, in 1728, that the frescoes were replaced with ten marble reliefs, by the artist Giovanni Marino, narrating the life of St Benedict. The medallions are made of white marble and have gilded frames, decorating the rich marble surface of the wall which is marked by pilasters with Corinthian capitals.
In 1776, Novelli’s altarpiece was also replaced with a magnificent depiction of the Apotheosis of St. Benedict, commissioned as early as 1760 by Ignazio Marabitti . The priest Antoninus Romanus , also appears in the contract as a witness.
Entirely made of Carrara marble, the piece depicts the Saint looking upwards, towards the Holy Trinity, in a blaze of pomp and glory.
Saint Benedict is depicted with one hand on his chest, wearing a golden halo and a draped tunic, complete with a long beard. He is surrounded by angels supporting him, playing the flute and the violin and holding his symbols: the mitre, the crosier and the rule. The whole relief is typically baroque and is characterised by a very animated scene, rich in pathos and embellished with gilded metal inlays. The funeral monument of archbishop Francesco Testa can also be found. It was also built by Marabitti in 1785 after being commissioned by King Ferdinand.The monument depicts the archbishop kneeling and praying towards the altar, with one hand on his chest and surrounded by cherubs, one of whom is holding his mitre. The bishop’s coat of arms and, lastly, the sarcophagus with the inscription are placed on the lower section.
The Chapel’s ceiling is barrel vaulted, featuring lunettes carved into the vault and an oval medallion bearing the symbol of the Holy Trinity.

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Under the crosses of the Bema

Palermo: the happiest city

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Ecclesia munita

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

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

The mosaics of the apses

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

Roger II’s strategic design

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

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

The beginning of the construction site

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

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The Gualtiero Cathedral

A space between the visible and the invisible

The Great Restoration

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

Worship services

The original design

The senses tell Context 1

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The chapel of St. Benedict

The king’s mark

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

A Northern population

Mosaic decoration

The longest aisle

The mosaics of the presbytery

The cemetery of kings

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

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

A remarkable ceiling

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

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The rediscovered chapel

Interior decorations

The cultural substrate through time

The lost chapel

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The Chapel of the Kings

A new Cathedral

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

The side aisles

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The stone bible

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

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

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

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

Squaring the circle

The balance between architecture and light

A controversial interpretation

A tree full of life

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

Transformations over the centuries

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The towers and the western facade

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The Virgin Hodegetria

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

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Survey of the royal tombs

The area of the Sanctuary

The decorated facade

The southern portico

The Bible carved in stone

A palimpsest of history